300 Days, 3 Languages!
DL is an excellent tool and a fine community.
EDIT, August 28: In reply to questions: (1) The most important thing is to do SOME practice EVERY day. That's because the goal is to install (burn in) the "practical grammar" and a "working vocabulary" of several thousand words in your LONG-TERM memory. How much is enough? It depends on the individual, but I think 30 minutes of quality time (not when you're exhausted, nor when you're "multi-tasking") each day should be adequate for most people. (2) You need to practice all four aspects — reading, listening, speaking, writing — every day. DuoLingo is a very useful motivational tool, and the Immersion feature helps enormously with reading. But DL can't do everything. In order to develop advanced listening and speaking skills, you have to use other tools — such as the many videos and audio broadcasts available for free on the internet — and seek out opportunities for conversation. And sometimes you have to pay real money.
I assume you are a native English speaker, so I will answer in English; let me know if you prefer another language ... Some tips are added in today's edit at the top of the stream. Yes, I worked very hard at finding native speakers. Sometimes that's difficult in the USA, but persistence pays off, and in the end it's like any other kind of 'networking' -- the first steps are the hardest, then the thing builds on itself. Foreign travel is a great tool -- I do as much as my work schedule and wallet can handle. Skype chats with people you meet on DL are another possibility.
Thank you Professor01 for your advice.
I am Australian and English is my first language, but I used to work for a Spanish company and have kept in contact with numerous friends I had made in the head office. Unfortunately a lot of Spanish speakers in Australia are primarily South American and as I understand it they speak a diverse range of slang compared to "Castellano." I will try to set up Skype and Viber with them so I can converse with my old colleagues.
Prof John: THANK YOU for the "edit" you posted today at the top of this discussion stream, answering the many questions you received from other admirers. As a professional interpreter, I wholeheartedly agree with your advice about how to master a foreign language efficiently. There is truly no limit to the capacity of a human being to learn another language. Yes, if you learn a new language after age 15, you will speak it with a foreign accent. But anyone can achieve fluency and clarity of expression/comprehension in a new language at ANY age by Disciplined Daily Drilling over a period of months. The benefits of being comfortable in languages other than your maternal one are so immense that I couldn't begin to itemize them. Cheers, Andrea
thumps up if you actually started working out how many months it took him. Answer; 365 days in a year so just over 10 months. Very Impressive
My next target is to learn Arabic, but that would not be that start forward since the availability of Arabic resources is very limited, but you are my inspiration!!!!!!!!!!!!! Saludos
I was gonna give up learning languages, in China people just speak Chinese, it's pretty hard for me to keep learning kinds of languages, reading this gave me hope, thank you so much for sharing this to us
Well done. When did you finish the trees? How far in? I'm aiming to finish my three primary trees by 100 days, although that might slip by a few days due to my determination to keep the trees golden in the process. I would like to think I could get to 25 in each by 300 days but as immersion doesn't work on my kindle I doubt that will happen.
A vital part of learning a language involves translating from your native language into the new one. DuoLingo's "Immersion" platform is deliberately based on translating only INTO your native tongue (because Duo is primarily about translating, and the best translations are usually those done by people who are native in the language INTO which the text is being translated) and it may seem somewhat unfriendly toward writing in a foreign language. However, it is actually simple to carry out the task. Just go to "Add a new course," change the "I speak" language to one DIFFERENT from your native tongue, select your native language (English, for me) as the language to "learn," and then "add new course." Of course you aren't going to learn English, but you can then translate OUT OF English into whatever foreign language you want. You can then revert to your original learning program any time you like, without losing scores.
Professor01, Would you explain how to do this a bit more? I don't quite understand. I do write out flash cards of sentences with my native language on one side and the foreign language on the other side. Then I always practice by looking at my native language side of the card while trying to guess the foreign language sentence on the other side. Is this the same process?
Congrats prof. It's a great success to complete 3 languages simultaneously. And by looking at your profile picture, it's triple great success to make it at this age. I want to ask a few question. First, did you keep all skills full always or tried to complete a tree as soon as possible? Did you make translations or just do the skill tree? Second, I speak English and Spanish in addition to my native language. Now I'm learning French in a language course and following on duolingo. While learning French, I don't want to lose my other languages. What can you suggest to keep alive both Spanish and English?
In my opinion, recognizing the distinction between short-term and long-term memory is crucial for language acquisition. What matters is the latter, not the former. The most efficient way to embed "critical mass" of a new language in long-term memory is to invest months in daily drilling, always working with phrases/paragraphs rather than just with words. However, once something is truly stored in long-term memory, maintaining it does not require daily drill -- in fact, one can neglect it from time to time. My approach has always been to focus my practice time on desired skills or knowledge that are not yet in long-term memory. As it happens, the French language established itself in my long-term memory easily and naturally, whereas I originally found Spanish more difficult. My strategy was to devote considerably more time on Spanish than on French, and to keep both of those significantly ahead of Italian, because my hypothesis was that mastery of French and Spanish grammar and vocabulary would eventually smooth the way for Italian. That hypothesis turned out to have been right. Although I managed to complete three trees in 200 days, I was always at VERY different spots on the trees for the different languages, finishing Spanish first, with Spanish getting the largest share of my attention until the telltale signs emerged that Spanish had found its way into my long-term memory. The best way to keep your Spanish and English alive while learning French is to do two things: read a couple of stories that interest you in one excellent newspaper (and/or contemporary literature) in each of those languages every day; search out opportunities to converse in each of those languages at least once per week. I have found that doing so is no burden. For example, I always find interesting and important stories in the European and Asian press that are absent from the best newspapers that are published in my home country (USA). You mention age as a factor. I have always found that I learn languages considerably faster than people under 25. I don't think the reasons are very complicated. Just look around at our DuoLingo community, in which certain people hide behind internet anonymity, chase points, and invest their time in flirting while others disclose their actual identities, come here to learn, and actually have something useful to say on the rare occasions when they post messages. Bonne chance!
Hello again prof. Thanks a lot for your long and explanatory reply. I completely agree with you about the importance of paragraph's meanings instead of struggling with words. For me I started to really love English while reading around 15-16 thousand pages of novels. Then I followed the same process in Spanish, after 2 or 3 thousand pages, I saw myself more competent. Sometimes i found myself being unaware in which language I'm reading. I think that builds the longterm memory. Even if you don't do anything daily, you won't lose. If you don't mind may I ask your profession? Is it related to etymology or completely different? Probably you should find learning languages quite motivated for you leisure times. And keeps your mind fresh.