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How are people finishing the french course so fast?

People talk about finishing the course in a matter of months...how? I've been doing it for over a year and am not even halfway yet. Does everyone take the placement tests or only go up to level 3 on some skills or what?

June 28, 2020



Well, I am French and I am doing the course because I wanted to help people so I needed to do it myself before, to be in the same conditions. I did the placement test. So maybe some people do like me.


I have to assume the people who say they "finish" the course are only taking each skill to level 1. I don't think they'll have learned very much. Some of them might even just be taking each test-out and using google translate to pass it. I don't get the point.

I've been here for years, and although I'm doing multiple languages I spend most of my time on French and Spanish. I have finished the French tree but only have gold to about 1/3 of it and the last couple checkpoints are only at level 1. Haven't finished the Spanish tree yet, though I've only had maybe 15 skills to go for awhile, because I'm still working on strengthening earlier lessons instead of flying through them.


I think it's best to learn at your own pace. Even if you're most comfortable with learning a single word each day. It's fine as long as you're accomplishing something. Best of luck xoxo -btw I'm learning french too, it's quite the beautiful language :)-


I put quite a bit of time into it but it should take me about 18 months I reckon.

I do pick it up constantly... a few weeks in and I really pretty much replaced my favorite phone game (1010) with duolingo because I just find learning more fun.

Duolingo has struck some sort of magic balance between learning and playing a game that is on pointe for me at least.


I learnt French for my GCSEs and A-levels so I just test out each skill. Since I’ve studied French already, I only use Duo French to “relax” when the other languages I’m learning from scratch are driving me nuts (Danish And German will be the death of me)!

Not everyone using Duo is a beginner, so don’t compared yourself with others and just learn at your own pace :)


People still in lockdown?

I've got well over halfway in just over three months. Most of my skills are at gold and I feel I've learned them quite well - I also go back and revise old skills fairly often. I do Duolingo every day - usually for about an hour or so (more recently).

I'm at the stage where I can now read French stories for intermediate students, watch Tintin etc and browse French news sites and comprehend enough to make those activities enjoyable.

If it hadn't been for lockdown, however, I'd never have had enough time to get to this stage so quickly. In fact, I don't think it's so much that people are doing the course quickly as that they're doing it A LOT.


Do not bother with others - do your best in your tempo - learning languages is a long-longterm task


Maybe they just spend more time each day?


You're putting a fair bit in - 22 day average of 90-odd XP... but with three 10XP practices (top tip: spend a few lingots on timed practice), that's about five lessons, one crown a day.


I'm doing it quickly because I do not have a job and therefore no time constraints. I love doing it because it makes me so happy, so on days I can do it, I do it nearly all day.


I definitely won’t be finishing the French tree in a few months. French is the main language I am learning on Duo, but I am slightly OCD and I level-up each skill to gold before going to the next one. I have been learning on Duolingo for about a year, and I am only like 7 skills past checkpoint 1. Now, I have been learning off an on, so a total of only few months really.


Your "slightly OCD" is actively slowing your learning down and making it harder.

Why not say to yourself "My OCD is happy if I get each checkpoint the same level before I go back and level it up"?

So aim for...
checkpoint 1 - all gold
checkpoint 2 - all L4
checkpoint 3 - all L3
checkpoint 4 - all L2
checkpoint 5 - all L1

Then go through and bring it to... checkpoint 1&2 - all gold
checkpoint 3 - all L4
checkpoint 4 - all L3
checkpoint 5 - all L2
checkpoint 6 - all L1
and on...


Doesn't even have to be that extreme.

I keep mine consistently at 2 'lines' of topics in each level. Then, starting from the top, level up one 'line' of each colour until I unlock a new 'line' of skills at the bottom then start again from the top.

Gives a good mix of old and new stuff without having to go back to anything that's maybe become too basic for you.


Indeed - as many or as few.

Checkpoints might be a well-defined block to keep OCD happy, though.


this is the worst method to use - duolingo and everyone else recommends going through a few topics at a time at level 1, getting the first couple to level 2 etc. you shouldn't have any at level 5 before most of the course is at least at level 1


I'm not sure it’s necessarily the worse method to use, you have to experiment and see what’s best for you. Personally (for example) I find the vocabulary and usages don’t really stick just doing level 1s and level 4 is the most challenging and interesting.


you're on level 24, that's a really great achievement!


Maybe because they've already finished the tree before? I've just finished the French tree i.e. got all the skills to level 5, but it's the second time I've done it. I finished the first time in December. Then the tree was updated and I've just finished for the second time so I suppose it took 6 months but the first time I finished it took a lot longer. I'd worked in a very focused way for 18 months and in a very half hearted way for a couple of years before that. It's much easier the second time as your language skills have improved and some of the previous crowns are retained. I dont have the updated tree 16 but when I do get it I'd aim to finish in a few months.


My estimate is per level (each individual item like "travel" that go up to level 5) takes me about 2 hours. So you could get through a section of 10 levels in 20 hours, which is 4 hours a day, 5 days a week.... or 1 hour a day for 20 weeks. It just depends on your own time commitments. I did a rough count of 170 levels, so if you spent 2 hours a day at my speed, that's about 85 days to do the entire course (give or take, of course, and YMMV).


I'm a bit confused by your terminology.

Duo's official terminology:

Each round icon is a skill.

Each skill has six colour-coded levels - L0 (grey unless unlocked, then purple), L1 (blue), L2 (green), L3 (red), L4 (orange), L5 (gold).

One level for one skill is one crown.

Each level consists of a number of lessons, which vary by course and by skill.

Courses have several checkpoints through them.

English -> French has 8 checkpoints, 158 skills, 792 crowns, and somewhere around 4,000 lessons.

The recommended way of progressing is not to take a skill from L0-L5, then the next from L0-L5, etc - but to "waterfall" through the course. Get a bunch of skills to L1, then go back and get them to L2 while moving on with L1. Then L3, L4, L5.

Because of the way each skill builds on previous ones, that means that you're constantly reinforcing then revising the material, rather than simply cramming then moving on.



Thanks for clearing the technical terms and helping Casey.

I just get an headache when people constantly use the terms very wrong ;)



Course: https://duolingo.fandom.com/wiki/Language_tree

As you pointed out: Level is the crown level.
Section (with checkpoint) stays a section.

Sometimes I see people talking about "level" which also is not correct but instead of actually they mean a "section".


I think it's a verrrry rare person who spends 2 hours doing lessons every day without fail, though.



Looks like you are very motivated :-)

In most cases, for the traditional learners, more than 20-30 new words per day are probably too much.

See this FAQ: https://www.languagecourse.net/vocabulary-trainer.php

On Memrise my web default is 20 words per session.
Quite often this is the max per day.

It is more important to catch up with due words, low strength skills and to regularly review what you have previously learned and old skills (including tips).

1-2 Duolingo crown L0 sessions (=lessons): ~7-14 new words

With ~4-6 lessons per skill not many people will be able to complete a skill on a L0->L1 crown level or multiple skills on a day.

I had more luck with Duolingo and my last 1/3 Portuguese tree (with longer lessons like 8-10) with some "vocabulary skills" where I pre-learned all the words on Memrise for multiple weeks and only then I came back to Duolingo and completed 1-n skills per day.

I definitely did not do it for more complicated "grammar / verb tense" stuff.

In the end, it does not count how MANY words you have learned per day, but:

  • how many you can remember or recall the next days (or 4h / 12 hours afterwards)
  • if you know how to write them
  • being able to RECALL them with 100% typing or self-rating answer buttons with a L1 EN -> L2 target language translation direction
  • and all hints (tapping, word banks, multiple-choice) turned off

The more new words you learn per day, the more you will be bombed the next days and the quicker your (Memrise) course backlog queue will refill.

It is no real fun having to do any "Overdueness" reviews.

So I try to clear my backlog queues and do some classic (typing) reviews BEFORE I learn (20) new words on Memrise.

For every answer you give a wrong one, the SR interval will be reset to 4h or 12h (not necessarily on Duolingo).
This will also increase your course backlog queue when those words (from the wrong answers) quickly come back.


No I finish the full lessons but to the point where the word sounds like I'm coughing is kinda hard. So I just go from not sounding like that to just practicing it. I just started a couple of weeks ago!


Quote: Does everyone take the placement tests or only go up to level 3 on some skills or what?

Do you try to push to the highest L5 crown level without even having completed your 158/172 skills on a L1 crown level or L1-L3 pyramid system?


My math says -- based on my previous Portuguese experience and first Romance language -- that the quite long CEFR tree (158) can easily take you:

~1,8-2,3 years

Even on a L1 crown (+ regular L1 practice) or L1-L3 pyramid system.

This would 1-2 lessons on unlocked L0 skills on average.

If you try to push to the higher crown levels too fast, it will take even longer.

And then you will also run into the "L5 crown level bug" which brings back all the beginner stuff when you hit the PRACTICE button (single words, pictures, easy / shorter sentences).

The latest A/B tree update with 172 skills would take even longer than those above estimate.


During my first year and my shorter EN->PT tree (69 skills, 406 lessons) I did not only use Duolingo exclusively (reading the "tips and notes", for Portuguese / Romance grammar learning and practice) but also Memrise in PARALLEL on a daily basis and I regularly reviewed my learned words.
I did re-strengthen completed L1 Duolingo skills (first 67% of my tree).

I had the chance to start learning with a user-created "Duolingo PT BR vocabulary" course and 8 more official PT BR courses by "Memrise staff" (1-7 series + "Learn BR PT Basics").
With a bit of Mondly and 50languages on top.

Memrise pushed me into the recalling and 100% typing (in Portuguese) direction so my Duolingo learning also benefited so much from it when the DL "crowns updates" started to throw longer and more difficult sentences (from 4-6 years ago) back at me which had been suspended previously because of the higher user error rate.

With a good Romance background in the basics, you can start to learn phrases on 50languages, Clozemaster and other learning websites or practice more construction of longer sentences in the L2 target language (free typing).


IMHO you can't "win the race" with Duolingo alone:

  • as the spaced repetition (SR) now lacks more than it was partly (better) working back in 2018

  • you see the wrong translation direction (reading in French and translations back to your native or English language do not make that much sense as this is too easy)

  • and you won't get the required RECALLING tests with 100% typing in your L2 target language and turned off multiple-choice questions.

So please do not make the error to only use Duolingo for 1,8-2,3+ years (exclusively), even if you want to and can invest more XPs on a daily basis (for new L0 lessons and old 1-3 crown skills).


New A/B tree with 172 skills: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/39663574

With the constant updates it may happen that you never "complete" your tree (earning the golden owl, getting a tree at 100% strength, reaching crown level 5).

"Tree updates" usually remove crowns on some (not all) earlier completed skills, including higher L3-L5 crowns!


I finished it before. Took me a long time. Then more lessons were added so I’m not finished anymore. So I’m just not as motivated as I was the first time to get it finished. Because Duolingo keeps adding more lessons and you never really finish.


Isn't new content a good thing?

It's either a rehash of stuff you already know - so a good practice, and easy to tick through - or it's new material completely - so definitely a good thing!


Indeed. Definitely a good thing. After I posted my comment I thought it would come across as complaining. I am not complaining. It’s a good thing - just exhausting attempting to finish something that doesn’t end.


Moving targets are more fun...!


because we are fast


With later updated tree versions I already had to increase my math for ~2.5-3.5 years.

FYI: Tracee Miller from staff uploaded a screenshot about new Schools V2 and her French classroom course had 324 skills up to Cefr B2 level but with only 8 checkpoints (not 9 or 10).


I wanted to quickly test the Schools V2 "curriculum tab view" as it now shows the related CEFR levels for each unit.

Interestingly my new classroom removed French section #10 and limited total skills to 202 so this thread https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/50586446 is still up-to-date about A/B testing.

Sections #6-9 show B1 on that new schools view for my stable tree.

Looks like staff is still working on new content and adding more skills ;)

So even 3.5 years won't be sufficient in the future with added content to complete the French tree with a slower daily progress.


I tried learning French 9 years ago, and then again, 3 years ago, it was difficult for me both times, I had to learn Turkish because I moved to Istanbul and some how my brain became flexible, I am learning French now, and it makes more sense. I grasp the language easier. I think you should start on something else. Maybe something you can practice with people around you and then get back to French. I am on 21 day strike and I can't get enough of French learning, the language somehow finds its way to you by time.

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.