How long until you felt comfortable?
How long did it take you until you felt comfortable speaking German? I've been learning via Duolingo for roughly a year now (had almost a 5 month hiatus in the middle) I'm constantly questioning myself even though nine times out of ten I was correct in the first place.
I sometimes see people comment on my questions who seem to know everything yet they are like level 7,8, 10 and I think how do I not know this??? where in my tree should I be as a level 10? where are they?
I find myself better at reading german then hearing it, and hearing it better then speaking it. Anyone else is the same boat?
Everybody is at a different place depending on their habits on here as well as their outside knowledge of the language. Testing out of skills doesn't give you that many experience points compared to going through the lessons and practicing them often so it's certainly possible that some people you are comparing yourself to were actually very proficient in German before even using Duolingo. Similarly, it's possible to get to level 25 without finishing your tree. The point is, don't worry too much about how your progress on your tree compares to your level. Just go at a rate that feels comfortable to you while making sure not to race through so fast that you don't remember anything.
A good next step in comprehension and expression would be to find a language exchange partner. There are several websites you can use for this such as italki, mylanguageexchange, etc. Speaking and hearing are much more difficult than reading and writing as they require you to more actively and immediately synthesize information. The way to improve is to practice. You can also try to think out loud to yourself in German throughout the course of the day - "Hmmm ich habe Hunger; ich soll etwas kochen. Danach will ich fernsehen." Doesn't have to be complicated things, just anything you can to get yourself used to speaking it.
People's levels are not always an indicator of their skill-level, like if it's not their primary learning method. I for example use Rosetta Stone, but I like to practice occasionally and check the forums occasionally on Duolingo, but because the material isn't parallel I can't test out of as much as I know, and likewise you get less points for testing out of skills of which some people do in large quantities from time to time :-) But I've been learning German for over a year now (keep in mind the massive gaps that occur during busier school months ) and truthfully my comfort level with the language is very strained, since I rarely manage to find people here to speak it with since the entire population is mostly Spanish-speaking with English being a second language (not much German-influence here!), or just English... my Spanish accent however is very good as a result xD But there is hope!!!! If you want to improve your comfort level with speaking and listening, then you just need to practice listening and speaking in live conversations :-) I find my comfort level rapidly improves, even after only 30 minutes to an hour of actual conversation xD If you keep that up regularly and take notes and ask questions whilst conversing, you'll be pretty comfortable in no time!! :D
There must be native speakers who step in to help. Those who seems to know everything with a low level number besides their names are probably of this sort.
I used to attend a year German course. And since I was not a good learner, I cannot speak German with confidence. What I can suggest is: keep practicing and learn from mistakes you and others made. Don't pay much attention on the level, it does not count for anything but how many XPs you have earn.
As people said, many people doesn't use only duolingo for learning german. I use duolingo just when I am in the bus going to college. I use also other methods, such as "deutsch.info" and "deutsch interaktiv". And many other people have opportunity for practicing, I have some german friends and some friends who are also learning german, so it helps a lot. Maybe german will be quite difficult for you if it is the first foreing language you are taking serious, when I started to learn english I was 14 and I found that I never would learn that terrible language, but after two years I was already in the US living and studying in english. So, what I wanna say is that everyone has their own rythm, and the most important is never give up, each person has their own background ;)
i would say something but i see these people already put in their paragraphs... but i will say that it depends on the leatner and how much time they dedicate. i've seen lvl fifteens in places where i was like level seven, because they practiced every new skill until gold, while some will practice new skills only once they are depleted. (i do this, but i should prabably change it because it doesn't do everything you learned at first) Hey, wow, i actually managed to type a paragaph and didn't mean to xD
i went back a re-read some of the notes and tips for each section, and the second-guessing seems to have subsided. now things seems to flow nicely.
Some people live in foreign countries for years on end and only feel comfortable enough (or can't even) say "my name is ___" in a land where they are surrounded by the language day in and day out. If you can already say a few basic phrases and know basic grammar you have already gone further than certain people so remember this when you're having one of those days where you're feeling down :)
Thank you all for your words of wisdom, I find myself at occupations at the moment but I go back all the time and go over previous units all the time. I feel sometimes I just don't get it and flip out. I sometimes feel like i'm standing still..
I think gc49k gave a good tip: Go back and repeat lessons, and each time you are not sure or do something wrong, read the sentence discussion. It often helps to understand the grammar or at least to understand what you did wrong, and if not, you can always ask. Spending a little time thinking over a sentence will greatly help you to remember it correctly, and in the best case you will be absolutely sure why it has to be that way.
In a second step, you can try to identify the problems you freuently have. Some people have problems with dative, other people have problems with verb tenses, and the next one just doesn't understand word order. Find your frequent problems, and then read on that particular topic until you think you got it. If not, again, you can simply ask in the forums.
In all honesty I think I have a problem with everything :D (I don't think very highly of myself most days and I constantly second guess myself) I do go over previous lessons alot (hence why level 10 and at occupations)
Maybe you should start from the beginning then and only proceed if you absolutely have down what you learned in the previous lesson. If you mix and match too much, you might get confused what exactly you did wrong, or you get something right you have trouble with, but another thing wrong, and then your sentence is wrong and you don't have the feeling of success "aha! But I had the article right!"
It also helps to "cheat". Put conjugation/declination/... tables on your desk, and if you need to translate a sentence, check everything meticulously. There's no shame in taking five minutes for a single sentence, when in the end you got it right and you know you didn't just got lucky. Over time, your checking will go faster, other things will get ingrained so you don't need to check them anymore at all.
Maybe duolingo is also not the perfect tool for you. Everyone is different. You could try other ressources, like www.unilang.org or http://www.memrise.com/ Another good approach if you have a basic vocabulary already is to start reading German books, comics or whatever, just to see perfect German frequently, and some phrases will stick subconsciously. You'll just know that you say it this way, because everyone does ;)
This is completely normal. I took German for 5 years in high school (7-10 + 12, scheduling conflict meant I couldn't in 11th) plus a year in college. But I've also gone long stretches in the meantime without using it so my comfort level has been all over the place.
I started Duolingo at the very end of October and after a couple weeks of very fast forward progress I started to hit a wall as I got into a combination of things I either hadn't learned before or just hadn't been as strong with before and so was harder to pick back up. I'd definitely been able to see my comprehension improving back to what it used to be at my best, but I suddenly felt like I was stalling and not making anymore forward progress.
Now a few weeks later and it feels like a dam has broken and my comprehension has improved dramatically and I've finished my tree. I actually downloaded a history of WWI in German last week that I started reading and just in that time I can tell a major difference between my comfort level when I started reading and now.
Sometimes it feels like you're standing still when your brain is really just laying the groundwork for everything to click into place and give you your next period of forward momentum.
Personally, I've been learning German - quite lazily might I add - for 8 or 9 years. I'm nowhere near as good as I should be. I panicked and quit at school when we got into the different cases (as no one explained them to me) but this was about 3 or 4 years ago. Recently I've noticed that the cases slip in easily when I'm talking to myself in German, and I find myself impressed at how quickly I've managed to learn it.
I'm a musician, so I've got a real ear for different sounds and pitches. This helps immensely when learning languages. I remember after a "camp" I went to with other distance-education German learners, I was asked to give a quick presentation to the school of what I had learned there. One of the student's mothers came up to me afterwards saying how impressed she was. She was a native speaker and told me that my pronunciation was perfect. I was confident with my speech beforehand, but that really cemented it for me. Since then I've really noticed that German slips into my English every now and then. Often I'll be in "German mode" (where I'm even thinking in German), and have a hard time changing back to English!
I've also noticed that since starting on Japanese (even with what little Japanese I know at the moment), I have a "Japanese mode" as well. It's pretty intense!
My french teacher heard me sing and then was dead set on making me sing edith piaf (which I did phonetically because I hated learning french I couldn't retain diddly squat) I've always been a mimic so I love accents and I agree with modes (I get that too!)
I'm seriously thinking about trying to learn some opera in Italian. I love singing but the only opera songs I can sing are those in English. My favourite definitely has to be "All I ask of you" from Phantom :3