It's finally happened, I can hardly believe it! I have a totally golden, finished tree.
I am so excited; it's something that at times I thought I would never achieve. A year ago my friend and I (average age 65) decided we ought to learn something new to stop our brains decaying with old age. I can't remember how we decided on Italian but we both enrolled on a beginner's Italian course and so began our journey.
Last November one of the other students mentioned Duolingo and I started my tree that night. As you will see from my streak it has taken me nearly a whole year to complete my tree and there have been a few times when I nearly gave up in frustration. Thanks for all the help and friendship I have received from the Duolingo community which got me through those hard times.
I have to say that I have taken my time, in fact I once did so many strengthening exercises that the DL message of 'you have no more words to strengthen, why not try something new' appeared! (A paraphrase because I can't remember the exact words). However, all that strengthening kept my tree golden the whole way through which is something I am quite proud of.
In fact, thank you DL for really improving my self confidence. Last week I went to Rome and was brave enough to speak to many Italians and ask lots of questions. It was something I would never have thought I could have done. Not only that but I actually understood most of the answers!
Sorry for the length of this post......put it down to my over excitement! Thanks DL community and good luck to everyone. :)
Congratulations on your major accomplishment!!!!
By the way, I spent almost three weeks in Italy last month, and I was really glad for the time I spent using Duolingo beforehand. (Sadly, I didn't keep up with my Duolingo lessons while I was there, and so I broke my streak.) Anyhow, the biggest kick for me was when I went to the Duomo in Naples. The docent was very eager to explain about the history of the cathedral .... except that he didn't speak any English. He gave us a wonderful 20 minute tour. It was so exciting to be able to understand what he was saying, and I never would have been able to do it without Duolingo. Yay Duolingo!
I read recently about a fellow who was having problems remembering little things, as he aged. Like where he left his car keys, or did he lock his door when he left. Minor, but annoying things.
He went to see some professional, and took a test of his cognitive abilities while he was there. That test showed that his score was around average for his age, but on the lower side of average for everyone else.
He then (independently) decided to try to learn French. He bought books, and worked on lessons on his own, and after six months he decided that... he was never going to learn to speak French.
He did notice, though, that his memory had improved greatly since he started the French lessons. His car keys weren't forgotten any more. Curious, he went back and took another test, and guess what? His scores, this time, put him above average for his age and for the general population as well!
So even though he failed at learning French, his brain responded to the stimulation and it was a positive experience in his life.
So don't give up, anyone who is currently discouraged! You're dong your brain a favor just by being here.
Cognitive research shows that cognitive speed declines at a steady rate over time but cognitive ability can continue to increase throughout life with cognitive exercise. It's nice to know that we aren't doomed to have our brains rot and that we can instead continue to improve our minds.
That's awesome! It's sad how many people think they are too old to learn a language.
You can't really blame them, we're all brainwashed into thinking that the best time to learn languages is before age 7 or so. Whether or not the fact is true, it's pretty damaging knowledge to have, since it makes you think 'Oh well, why bother'. The worst thing is, that people repeat this fact, but no one every seriously gives a satisfying answer as to Why that is the case. It's just one of those aggravating ''truths' that people simply pass around without really questioning. It's probably more damaging in itself than the actual aging process could ever be...
That age restrictive brainwashing is put on a lot of other things too, like playing an instrument, learning ballet, and doing martial arts. There becomes an attitude that if your parents didn't start you on it when you were young then you'll never learn it with any proficiency so why bother? I agree that it's easier to learn when you're younger and your brain is still developing, but I hate that it stops adults from pursuing language learning or other meaningful pastimes.
Yes, I agree. I have been learning italian a lot faster than I ever learned French at school. What I would say, though, is that when I am trying to think of things to say in Italian, it often comes out as French or even German (which I learned only very briefly) and I wonder if that is to do with childhood learnin being more firmly anchored, or whether it is simply time. The experiment continues...
This happens quite a lot to me. I studied a bit of Russian at exactly the same time I started with German, using the same method (pimsleur tapes), German I kept going with and Russian I put on hold, but occasionally random Russian words pop into my train of thought. Languages you have studied previously dont ever really go away, they just go to sleep. I think your brain is probably indifferent to what language a phrase is in when you are trying to say something, so all this really is is the effect being unable to say something in Italian, but experienced through the lens of a second language instead of your first.
When you can only think of how to say something in your own language, it seems normal, but when you can only think about something in another language than the one you are trying, its strangely disorientating, and you get the impression that one language is trying to block out the other, when it is not - it just happens to be a similar strength to your first language, for that particular phrase. Though there isn't anything bad about that, it just means you need more time with Italian.
In my case I learned Spanish, which I was taught a bit in elementary school, a bit by my mother's husband who's from Mexico, and through a class in college. I remember a good bit, but I wasn't a very enthusiastic student because I don't have the interest in it that I do in Italian, even if it is vastly more useful.
After studying Italian for some time I decided to pick it back up, but whenever I try to say anything the majority of the sentence comes out in Italian! It's like the Italian I've learned gave all the Spanish the boot to make space in my head. I think if they weren't both so similar it wouldn't be so difficult, but since I still don't have much interest in Spanish I decided to leave it alone.
^ in reply to BugabooBear well that is more or less the flipside of what I was talking about. You are trying to go back to Spanish, but you remember the Italian first because it is the language you are more enthusiastic about. It's no different from the frustration of only remembering something in English when you are trying to remember it in another language. Italian and Spanish are like twins though, so it is more difficult to realise that it is happening while you are trying to speak quickly. I know you reflexively want to leave it alone in case it gets harder, but ironically, you might find it easier to differentiate the two languages if you study them both even more. For everything you can say in Italian, try and think of a way to express it in Spanish, and vice versa (obviously, if time allows you to do so)
Don't worry though, I'm sure you're probably smarter than the average bear. You can probably handle it :)
When I first began French (in college) I noticed that frequently I would speak a word, phrase, or sentence in Spanish (which I only briefly studied.) I came to realize that my brain had two "files": in one English, in the other every other foreign language. This has lessened over time, with my French being in a whole file by itself.
I remember seeing something somewhere about how adults can learn better than kids if they have the right approach, but I don't remember exactly what it was. I think I might have seen it on Fluent in 3 Months or something like that.
I personally think the secret ingredient is motivation. I learned infinitely more about German at 26 because I both wanted and needed to than I ever did at 13, when it was suddenly sprung on me for reasons I have yet to understand (I was in an Arab country at the time, so therefore acutely aware that some instruction in I don't know, maybe Arabic, might have been more engaging and useful...)
The reason people say that it's easier to learn as a kid is that the brain is still developing so it is easier than when you are older. That dose not mean that you can not learn a language when you are older, it just means that you have to put more effort into it.
Actually, at 66, I put very little effort into learning a language. For example, I do not 'try' to remember words. If I can't remember a word, I just skip it, knowing it will come up again in future. I think it is more a question of putting in time than effort. As long as you put in, say, an hour a day per language, you 'will' learn, whether you put in effort or not. I think repetition and frequent exposure are much more important than 'effort'.
I know that repeditivity is important. and so is frequently doing it is important too. All I'm saying is that it is a little easy when the brain is still developing. For some people it's not. It's different for every one.
Congratulations on a great effort! I have also just finished my tree, but for Spanish. By the way, I am 66. My Italian still has a long, long way to go after 48 days. I also do lots of strengthening exercises and am taking it easy.
The reason I was able to finish my Spanish tree relatively quickly is because I did a Spanish correspondence course some twenty years ago so I already had some Spanish before I started the tree. In fact, I took a test at the beginning and was catapulted to level 8. I am now almost at level 14 but my tree is finished and all golden.
So, what now? Do I keep doing the strengthening exercises until I reach level 25, which, I believe, is the final level? I must say I am a bit disappointed that the course does not take me to a much more advanced level but, then again, that is probably too much to expect from a free course like this. I know there are other ways to improve my Spanish and will be pursuing some of those. I just like the structured way of Duolingo. It makes it easier to motivate oneself and put in the daily effort. Anyway, thank you, Duolingo! You have made my life in retirement more exciting and interesting. I wish I could inspire my wife to learn a language with me so she could at least understand me when I talk to her in tongues.
You might try Easy Spanish on youtube where you can watch street interviews with both Spanish and English subtitles, and then there are the Ted x talks many of which are in Spanish. You can also read Spanish articles on the BBC, BBC Mondo. :-)
sí, efectivamente son muy simpáticos :-) Te aconsejo de ver alguna serie en internet en español, o que sea doblado en español. Te va a ayudar mucho, creo!
Yo veo True Blood doblado en español pero tendrías que encontrar algo que te guste a tí.
Happy dance time! A perfectly golden owl and level 25 is something to be proud of!
Very exciting! Congratulations! I am hoping to use it to be ready for my next trip to Italy as well! :) Glad to hear it helped a bit!
Many congratulations, these are very motivating stories. I also noticed you are lvl 25 already and that's also a big achievement.
I've never seen the message about not having more words to strengthen, it really shows how dedicated you were. I'm slowly climbing my Italian tree, I hope I can finish it sometime soon and maybe someday go to Italy =).
Congrats! As a lazy procrastinator, I'm hoping to get at least my French and Spanish trees golden (but mostly French as I am done with the tree) soon. I need to refresh my language skills.
wow - that's fantastic. you are an inspiration to all of us!!!! hope you keep going and hope you keep learning. xxx
Congrats! It's people like you that inspire me and everyone else to keep working to learn a new language.
Your story is awesome. Congrats on your newly acquired skills! I hope Italian will allow you to have many new experiences!
Congratulations, that's a great achievement and has inspired me to carry on.
What a star! I know how hard you've worked for this so well deserved congratulations! I'm inspired to struggle on! From your best friend.
Truly inspiring. Go with your confidence! In will give you joy, and empower people around you. Thank you, and have a lingot :-)
This is fantastic!! I am quite a lot of the way through the tree, and I really want to finish it by the end of the year, but it may take me until January. Nothing like a challenge.
I am really happy to read your post "pour encourager les autres" !! (Sorry to mix languages) So, what's next??
I'm wondering 'what's next' myself. Actually, there will be quite a bit of time to spend reviewing and redoing a lot of the past tenses that I still mix up, but after that I think I will do the reverse tree. I think that might be quite a lot harder for me, especially in the latter stages, as I make far more mistakes translating from English to Italian. I definitely need to keep challenging myself and have a goal though, so I am looking forward to it. Can anyone please tell me how to 'find' the reverse tree and whether my streak carries on whether I score exp from either tree or whether I have to score exp from both trees? Thank you all for your lovely comments, I hadn't expected so many replies. Best wishes to all!
Ooh, what a good idea doing the reverse tree. I had always wondered about how to get more translating into italian, as the obverse tree is really teaching us to translate into English, and we learn then foreign language as a by product.
Great job. You must have strong dedication to learning this language. Good for you.
Congratulations! I am doing my Italian as well, and hope that I will finish my tree before Jun 2105...I am now in Gerund Verb...so there are only less than 100 lessons left!
Congratulations - most impressive! I use DL to improve my very modest grasp of the language and it is a fine tool for doing so but, as you no doubt found, nothing is as valuable as actually talking to Italians, in Italian.
And congratulations on making it past Clitics, which is the current hurdle at which I continue to stumble.
You're an inspiration! Thanks! So good to know that you were able to converse in Italy! How wonderful!