how has duolingo helped you learn?
I'm just wondering how much duolingo can/has teach you and what to do after I finish, I'm roughly 1/3 of the way done with it and I think I'm doing pretty well, but I read that learning strictly with translation is a bad idea. So what else can I pick up to help me improve?
Due to Duolingo's business modell it is mainly about understanding sentences in the foreign language and less about actually expressing things in that language. So Duolingo mainly teaches you passive knowledge (understanding) which is useful, but for active knowledge you need to complement Duolingo with other resources.
I began with Duolingo (in fact, I liked the beauty of Duolingo so much that I was suddenly inspired to learn something and I picked French), but then I added other resources: Michel Thomas's audio course, busuu.com which is great for giving corrections from natives and finding conversation partners, books, grammar sites, textbooks, podcasts.
I was answering a question, but when I posted my answer, the question disappeared O_o so I have to quote it:
May I ask you right back: how was it for you? How much did you learn? are you able to comfortably hold a basic conversation with a native speaker? can you understand simple french text/audio? I just started about a month ago and am also curious about how much can you learn once you reach the top of the tree.
Yes, I can hold a basic conversation in French provided it is a text chat. I can read with a dictionary (or without it, but then I will only get the core meaning). I've read "Le Petit Prince" going slowly through it with a dictionary and working on every piece of grammar I encountered there. Now I'm reading "Sans famille" by Hector Malot on my Kindle. I'm glad I can read at least children's books for my pleasure :) but I still have to use the dictionary and I'm still not very good at profound understanding of grammar because there are a lot of tenses in books that are not often used in conversations (like passe simple and past subjunctive). This does not affect my understanding of the meaning, though.
I'm not very good at listening comprehension, but I intend to improve by listening to podcasts. And finally, I don't talk aloud because I don't have French friends in "real world" and I don't have much opportunities to use voice chats.
I learn French just for the fun of it, so I don't care much about speaking. I am not sure if I would ever have the need or the opportunity to speak in French (I am Russian, by the way). Of course, if you want to talk, you should find conversation partners as soon as possible.