Reverse Trees/Laddering?

Who else out there is doing reverse trees/laddering? If you don't know, a reverse tree is doing the opposite of your original course. For example, I have finished the "German for English speakers" course, so now I'm doing "English for German Speakers". Also, laddering is practicing one foreign language through another. For example, I'm learning German and Spanish, so I've started the "German for Spanish speakers" course.

Currently, I'm doing reverse trees for Russian, Spanish and German. I'm probably going to end up doing it for Chinese, and maybe a few other languages. Also, I've begun laddering Spanish to German, and I might do something with French. Who else has done this?

October 5, 2014


I'm going to start doing the reverse tree for French as soon as I finish the tree, I've heard it really helps.

After I finish the French tree I will work on my Italian (with my French reverse tree as well), and then ladder with Italian for French speakers.

October 5, 2014

You might want to consider doing the forward and reverse tree at the same time. They reinforce each other and speed up the learning.

October 6, 2014

I didn't know it was called laddering, but that's exactly what I'm doing right now! I have just begun to learn Spanish through French a few days ago. I figured it's a great way to learn Spanish and at the same time strengthen my French. It definitely is more of a challenge than learning through English, but I think it will be very rewarding. I also intend to finish my reverse French tree sometime too, but for now my priority is the Spanish for French-speakers tree. :)

October 5, 2014

i just found out laddering too and it gave me the idea to learn Spanish through French!

i've always wanted to learn spanish and tried learning both SP and FR at the same time but it gets tiring and confusing. so i don't know how people do it. now i'm kinda bored learning french (i'm hesitant to do the reverse tree because i'm not even done with my french tree and i'm already bored) and decided to try Spanish from French.

i agree learning SP/FR is very challenging. i just tried the first lesson and completely blanked on translating 'la nina'. i already knew some spanish words from Spanish/English so i was like ok that means girl but wtf is 'girl' in French? took me so long that i just gave up and used the hint.

i'm almost to the end for french, so finishing it is my priority. then i'll move on to Spanish/English and Spanish/French.

March 26, 2015

[deactivated user]

    Well, I just started doing my reverse tree also( even though I am not done with Spanish). It's kind of difficult but still fun and on the English( from Spanish) page, it is all in a Spanish so it helps me improve my Spanish

    October 5, 2014

    ¡Buena suerte!

    October 5, 2014

    Well, you know I did my reverse tree :P

    I'm also laddering French from German, but I'm not focusing too hard on that at the moment. Good luck!

    October 5, 2014

    I am doing the reverse tree for Spanish. It has been very helpful. I recently started German for Spanish speakers but also the German for English (my Spanish skills aren't strong enough to understand the grammar instruction in the Spanish) I plan to progress very slowly through the new language because I want to keep Spanish learning a priority. I am hoping one day Duolingo will offer a Spanish for German speakers. Then I will be able to practice German and Spanish with four different trees.

    October 5, 2014

    I'm doing the French for English and English for French speakers courses at the same time. It's fun and challenging because I apply what I learned in one course to succeed in the other and learn new words that I find in one course but not the other.

    October 6, 2014

    It's fun and useful, but at times also quite challenging (studying French in German! - I just can't beat the clock when strengthening skills). Currently I'm also "studying English" in Russian (actually vice versa) since the Russian tree is not yet available in English.

    October 6, 2014

    Same here w/the Russian. How's it going for you? I've actually found it pretty slow.

    October 6, 2014

    Slowly, slowly... The biggest problem for me is typing. I'm using Free Virtual Keyboard for typing, or rather clicking, in Russian, but to access the Cyrillic layout, I have to change the (Windows) language preference first (Russian keyboard). And then change it back to English for English translations. Timed practice is totally out of the question :). Another problem is the 'advanced grammar'. For example if the phrase requires using plural genitive in Russian (The girls have newspapers), I have to check the correct inflection first (genitive, feminine, plural).

    October 7, 2014

    I think you can add language options for your keyboard, and use Windows+space button to alternate between them, I have enabled Romanian and Chinese keyboards and it is very useful :)

    August 2, 2015

    It works, thanks!

    August 2, 2015

    Let me also add that if you're using Windows 7, pressing Alt+Shift should switch between keyboard languages. That's what I use when typing in Duolingo, and it's extremely quick.

    October 13, 2015

    What happens when you're learning several different keyboard layouts? Timed practice is difficult when I have to switch through English, Cyrillic and Hebrew keyboards. So far Duolibro hasn't worked for me.

    April 3, 2017

    I would really like to try laddering but I can't with the languages I'm learning now or would want to learn -_-

    I'm gonna start doing the reverse course once I finish these trees.

    October 5, 2014

    I'm doing the reverse french tree (actually, I took a pause from that to golden-up my forward tree.) I started laddering Spanish because it's the only other French->?? course available, but when I realized that they're getting pretty close to finishing French->Italian, I decided to abandon that and just wait until I can ladder Italian. My plan is to get French golden, then eventually do every French->?? tree that they have (starting with Italian), and in the unlikely event I ever finish those, maybe do those in reverse too.

    But, of course, my plans are subject to change..

    October 6, 2014

    Laddering is very useful to contrast languages, but reverse trees into languages you are already fluent can quickly become boring. For reinforcement, of a tree you already conquered, I think it is best to: 1) Keep it golden, and 2) Get other non-DUO practice (News, TV, etc)

    Laddering is good if you are not fluent yet in the source language. When I finished the EN = FR tree, I thouhgt about FR = EN, or even FR = ES (ES is my L1 and EN my L2), but having a language that I was already fluent as destination seemed rather boring, In particular, the audio excercises seem like a waste of time.

    For that reason I decided to do EN = IT and FR = IT (at the same time), that is, I do a skill on EN = IT and then I switch to FR = IT. That reinforces Italian and allows me to directly compare IT/FR. I tried the FR = IT route w/o EN = IT but I did not felt comfortable making questions. (And the FR = IT tree is relatively new, so not a lot of comments posted there yet)

    Edit: Reverse to a language that you are already fluent can be rewarding if you focus on providing clarifications on the discusions.

    BTW, The general recomendation that I found somewhere is that you can learn two languages at the same time, but, if they are closely related, then you MUST first develop a solid core on one language and then you can start learning the second one.

    May 7, 2015

    To make reverse trees less boring I turn off the speakers/mic. Then it is mostly translation to/from the target language. Only occasionally you get a "fill in the blank" in the language you already know.

    September 19, 2016

    Yes good idea, and above all, providing comments from the native (or fluent) speaker point of view is great. And an excellent opportunity to practice your writing skills in that language. Everybody wins.

    September 19, 2016

    There's also this "reverse tree enhancer" userscript:

    October 9, 2016

    I find that the reverse trees often introduce new vocabulary to me. I was surprised how much new vocabulary I learned doing the reverse tree from German. A lot of this has to do with alternate translations in the hover-over hints. When doing a forward tree, you get a lot of words introduced in the foreign language, with several English translations. This is great for thoroughly learning English words, but it limits the subset of foreign words you are exposed to.

    In the reverse tree, I find that because the focus is on "learning" English, there are a much broader range of foreign words that you get exposed to in the hover-over hints. Even though the "forward" course does expose you to some of this, I found the "backwards" course exposed me to a broader range of alternate vocabulary in the language I was trying to learn.

    I found this useful...although I think it also requires you to consult external resources to get the nuances...because the "reverse" course isn't focusing on thoroughly exploring each word, a lot of these words only appear in passing.

    October 28, 2016

    [deactivated user]

      Stupid question but I started doing reverse laddering for Turkish, that is, learning English through Turkish, but now I think I've lost access to the other languages I was learning when my account was through English? How does one flip back and fourth between different versions of the website so I can continue with all of my courses? I'm a bit confused...

      July 19, 2015

      You haven't lost access, just go into Settings and then change which language it says you're learning. Also, how did you find a 9 month old discussion? Just kind of curious

      July 20, 2015

      [deactivated user]

        Thank you. And Google.

        July 20, 2015

        Switching back and forth between source languages in the website can be cumbersome, take a look at the DuolingoCourseSwitcher by andrewmof, at the Duolingo Userscripts, it makes a huge difference!

        July 21, 2015

        I'm doing the regular Italian and Portuguese trees and recently tried out the Italian reverse course. It's been tremendously helpful, so I started the reverse tree for Romanian just to see whether I could learn a language just from the reverse tree and so far it has been working very well. Any other English speakers trying out Romanian?

        October 6, 2014

        By George, I'm going to try the Spanish reverse tree now!!

        January 7, 2016

        [deactivated user]

          English from Indonesian

          January 10, 2017

          how do you access reverse trees? I reached level 11, got my "Golden Owl" and can't seem to find level 12. Can anyone help?

          February 13, 2017

          Currently, I am learning Catalan from Spanish. I find it an excellent way to access lessons for languages not available for a native English speaker like me, as well as to boost my Spanish skills during a high school year of no Spanish. Until today, I did not know that it was called "laddering," though!
          ¡Muchísimas gracias por su publicación!

          November 15, 2017

          I might try Polish/Spanish... hmmmm!

          July 24, 2018
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