Whats your regimen?
Are any of you taking notes or doing anything on the side or are you just doing the Duolingo lessons over and over again?
I've been taking notes on words that are similar to spanish or english, often confused words, or patterns I'm seeing, etc. I'm wondering if all that is necessary and if maybe just doing the lessons is all I need.
Whats your regimen?
I don't see Duo as a stand-alone program -- far from it. I read books, have dictionaries and grammars, textbooks, watch Spanish TV, listen to Spanish radio, use other sites, speak with native speakers whenever I get the chance. I think one may use Duo as a basis for learning, but you need more.
I didn't mean to imply Duolingo is all you need. I fully expect to finish the skill tree, then spend some time perfecting it, while doing some article translations til I am pretty well accustomed to the vocab Duolingo has to offer, then continue doing article translatiosn, while I venture off into book reading, movie watching, writing on discussion boards, and hopefully at some point practice talking with people.
My question was more about getting through the tree. Should you just do lessons over and over til you get through the whole tree. Or study in between to reduce the number of times you have to do the lessons. In other words, will you finish the tree faster just doing lessons or lessons and studying.
I've found it's OK to move on quickly through the tree, you can always come back and practice again and again later. It depends though - I recently started doing Italian and put Spanish on the back burner, and because Italian is so similar to Spanish, in Italian I repeat every lesson over and over to really rub it in, otherwise I'd just mix in a lot of Spanish.
In general though I think it's a good idea to move through the tree pretty quickly, then repeat everything, and after you've finished the whole tree, it's time to read up on grammar. But always try to hear the language in question as much as possible, and read books if you can.
In the end of course it all comes down to personal preference. Everybody should do whatever feels best to them, the most important thing is not to get bored and stop studying.
I'm focusing on listening now more than anything else, so I try to listen to something Spanish every day. I add vocab mostly by reading and making flashcards for words I don't know, using images or simple Spanish definitions instead of English wherever possible. I prefer reading to discover new words over hard drilling vocab because not only do I remember better with context, I also absorb some grammar. And as time permits, I'm making my way through some Assimil. The intermediate-advanced level of Assimil doesn't exist in Spanish-English, only Spanish-French, so it will give me a chance to use both my target languages without relying on English as a crutch, which I'm pretty excited about trying out.
But I'm finished my tree, which is why I'm expanding as much as possible to other media. When I was still working on my tree, I mostly just relied on grammar explanations off-site and discussions to get through tough lessons, but if there's anything I wish I'd started doing sooner, it's listening. Very humbling when you know thousands of words but can't make any of them out in regular speech.
To be honest, I haven't had many opportunities to speak face to face with native speakers. I live in a large multi-cultural city and could definitely find some Spanish people to speak to if I tried (my next door neighbor is Colombian!), but I admit I haven't made the effort yet. My passive skills (reading, and now listening, thanks to podcasts) are much better than my active skills (writing and speaking). I've had a couple of text exchanges with Spanish speakers and while they take effort, I manage to get my point across and with relatively decent grammar if I take my time. Duolingo is great for learning to read quickly (and thus becoming a great translator) but for other skills, they have to be practiced. Still, I feel fairly comfortable being dropped into a Spanish speaking country now, and that is a lot more than what I had two months ago, and I credit Duolingo for getting my foot through that door.
I try to do something outside of duolingo every day. I have some french lit books (I picked up a student version of huis clos which has its own dictionary in the back as well as idioms on the opposite page), reading a page or two is all I can handle. YouTube for telefrancais or franch in action. Put on a movie like Kung fu panda with french audio and french subs. There is a whole lesion right there to notice the differences between the written french and the spoken french. I also speak some broken frenglish with people around me, some who know 'un peu le francais' and some who humor me.
I've studied both my languages before, and in my experience then, it certainly helped to take notes. Now I just try getting through the tree as fast as I can, and even so I find myself repeatedly making the same grammatical errors. Shame on me, but it also means that duolingo reviews stuff sufficiently that I should be able to grasp it. I hope. Eventually.