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How conversational can you expect to be?

How conversational can you expect to be after completing the whole tree for a language? Assuming you retain most of what you learn? I know its going to depend, but just trying to see what people have experienced.

May 28, 2013



Thank you! YEs, I obviously don't expect to be anywhere near fluent(which is why I specified conversational in the title). i was just curious if i could order some food in a restaurant and perhaps carry on a basic exchange with someone. I mean, right now I could say hello and ask how someone is doing, but then there would be awkward silence after that. I was just curious how much I would theoretically be able to converse.


Duolingo does not really teach you topics like ordering food or buying tickets. It gives some basic vocabulary and drills grammar (however, in many cases you have to figure out or find the rules first). For example, for me Duolingo proved the best for learning German cases; I use correct articles now almost without thinking.

If you need some vocabulary for particular traveling situations, I'd suggest podcasts. For German, there is Coffee Break German (still in progress of recording) that covers a lot of such situations and GermanPod101 that deals with different scenarios including traveling to Germany.


Well, If I can learn "I would like..." and then read from a menu, and order a drink. That would be a good start. However, I am hesitant to ever start conversing in the language, because I am worried I won't know what the response will mean. I guess I am worried to start speaking German because then the person will assume I know it. Currently listening to German podcasts or radio/TV is too fast for me so i don't understand most of it. If I am reading, I can understand a lot of the basics. I guess what I am really wondering, is upon finishing the tree here, if I will understand enough to then listen to podcasts/radio/TV and not be completely lost like I am now. Becasue right now it just seems so out of reach. Thanks again.


I meant not exactly German podcasts, but podcasts for German learners with explanations and comments in English. Those are quite easy to listen.

Duolingo course by itself is by no means enough to listen to the radio or TV. You will need a lot of listening practice with podcasts for German learners, news in slow German, news with text transcripts and so on. It takes a lot of work to be able to understand fluently spoken language.

As for conversation, try text chats first, then you'll be able to use a dictionary if you don't understand something.


I see. Thank you for the help!


In general, Duolingo is not designed to teach conversational foreign language. However, from prior forum discussions. (Apologies to olimo as I didn't read his linked discussions. So, please correct me if need be because I'm going from my memory), people say that Duolingo gives you a lot of confidence in using a foreign language in a practical situation.

Indeed, the next time I go to Subway (restaurant), I plan to order my sandwich in Spanish (in my area, the Subway employees almost always speak Spanish). I may not know the exact phrases, but I know that I can stumble my way through ordering. I expect that afterwards I will know the phrases.

I guess the difference is that Duolingo gives you the tools and the building blocks so that you can put them together and communicate. I'm not dependent on memorizing a set of phrases. Currently, I can cobble together the phrases, and I know that as long as the other person is slightly willing to work with me that I will be able to successfully communicate and order my meal.


Yes, that is what I am hoping for. Because right now, i dont even feel confident enough to try, even for basic greetings. Because I am pretty sure I wont understand the response. So hopefully once I get to the bottom of the tree, i will know enough words where I can understand enough phrases used in a normal basic conversation, That will at elast give me the confidence to try speaking.


Ifyou go to coffee break German, it will help you with conversation. I do the Spanish, and it is in English and Spanish. Just like Olimo said.


I think if you combine Duolingo with a specifically conversational tool like Pimsleur and a good grammar website/book, the results would be pretty great. Pimsleur's main problem is that it doesn't teach you grammar or rules at all, making sentences difficult to parse and leaving you to find patterns as a child might. Duolingo drills you on grammar specifics and vocabulary, but doesn't really teach grammar rules either. Grammar sites alone are worthless, but they will help you understand what you're learning with Pimsleur and drilling/recombining with Duolingo.

I would say you'll be in a pretty good position to read elementary school chapter books and have simple conversations - maybe a high-level textbook will still do you some good, but you'll also be in a good place to learn through immersion and conversation.

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