What is the US college course equivalent of finishing Duolingo Spanish tree?

Hello - can anyone give a general idea of what level college course (100-level, 200-level, etc.) is equivalent with finishing the Duolingo Spanish tree? I am in a college program the requires me to complete a language test that is equivalent to a Spanish 203 course in order to get my degree. Does anyone think this Duolingo program would sufficiently prepare me for that test? More specifically, where does Duolingo put me as far as course equivilency? Would finishing the tree put me at a 100 level (first year) or a 200 level (second year)? Sorry if this is worded very badly, I'm not sure how to express the question very well!

September 28, 2014


Hmm, there really is no official consensus. You can take this Duolingo study with a grain of salt, but other than that, it's purely opinion down below.

Duolingo may be around the 100 level in regards to college classes. Not entirely sure. People usually tout it as being better than any class they took, so it may empower you more than you think.

In terms of CEFR, if you complete the tree and use other resources, you can expect a B1 or low B2 in writing/reading, and a high A2 or low B1 in speaking/listening.

September 28, 2014

link go the study appears to be dead. Can you provide an updated one?

May 8, 2016

That study is very interesting. I'm thinking that it might place me around the end of the 1st year, maybe slightly into the second year. Luckily I had a great high school teacher (years ago) who drilled in much of the basics, which may or may not make me a different case than other learners. Thanks for your input!

September 29, 2014

Then it sounds like you are set. :) You're welcome!

September 29, 2014

Just as an update to this thread - I was able to finish the duolingo tree and pass a translation test that served as an equivalency test to finishing a second year of college-level spanish courses. Mileage may vary, obviously.

May 9, 2016

Reading and discussing novels was a major part of my senior level Spanish class in high school, and my college friends who took language classes talked about their reading list and discussion classes as well. Are we anomalies and most language classes mostly just press pure grammar and translation?

Or is it just that the placement tests do a poor job of assessing your ability to read and discuss literature, or hold a conversation?

September 29, 2014

I'm not really sure what you mean by your test is not so much a "placement" test, but I have to translate a document in Spanish that would be around the 200 level. This test isn't distributed by the Spanish department, but it my own department-specific test. So mine is a little more tailored to my degree and not necessarily to placing me in a Spanish language program.

September 29, 2014

You probably had a better high school Spanish class than many of us. I got through 4 years of high school French and a semester of intensive French for reading without ever actually reaching the point where I could have had much hope of reading a novel.

September 30, 2014

In college, we were taught words and sentence structures (and some characters, because I took Japanese), and then tested on them. That was about it. We absolutely could memorise it all before the tests, and pass without learning the language. It was an accreditation checkbox the school needed filled, and everyone was expected to pass.

Some languages had a 300- or 400-level "conversation" class that sounded to me like paying tuition for a few hours of practice, but I never took one. Maybe that's more like what you're thinking of. I never understood how we were meant to get from the 200-level, still pretty basic material, to being close enough to fluent to start those classes. Anyway, only the three 100-level classes were required for graduation. I don't believe you could major in linguistics or any specific language there.

Most schools are probably in between yours and mine. Yours sounds much more in-depth than I've heard of, and mine was blatantly dumbed down.

October 1, 2014

My high school French class was a lot like what you describe. By 4th year, it was more like a high school English class than a foreign language class. We read and discussed books, wrote essays, watched movies, etc. The main difference was we also had a lot of "talking 'bout stuff" time. I discovered describing a dream in a foreign language can really push your language abilities.

April 3, 2017

My experience is that most classes do focus on the rote out-of-context stuff, not on the literature and practical stuff, unless you take a class that specifically specializes in literature or a subject.

I had 4 years of Spanish in high school, most of it with native teachers, and I entered university able to hear a sentence in Spanish and tell you what the words were, even when I didn't know what they meant, and able to recognize by ear when verbs were (or were going to be) irregular. This was the opposite from all my classmates in university's 2nd-year Spanish classes (which I'd tested into), who knew what the words meant but couldn't understand them spoken.

I was the one who got the job at the ESL center.

June 9, 2017

Can you get ahold of the 203 syllabus and then compare the class goals with Duolingo objectives?

For example:

September 29, 2014

Where I went to college it would contain at least as much material as the end of the second year, possibly farther. There may not be as much vocabulary, discussion or conversation, but the grammatical rules are here. Just keep adding more of those on your own and practice other places, too!

September 29, 2014

Everything covered in high school Spanish (1 through 4) is covered by the tree. If Duolingo had existed when I took the placement test in freshman orientation, I probably would have placed into college Spanish 4 instead of 3 (my school only required 6 credit hours so I still tested out of the foreign language requirement). The placement test we took seemed to focus on verb conjugations.

September 29, 2014

Ok, thank you. That makes sense, that it might push you to the end of the first "year" and maybe into the beginning of the second.

September 29, 2014
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