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https://www.duolingo.com/hend6

Another 'finished tree' post with after-thoughts

hend6
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Greetings all!

I am now among those of you who have finished your English -> Spanish tree. As someone who took a mere two years of Español in high school, coming back to it almost ten years later and actually making progress has been fantastic. I never would have foreseen nor achieved this level of comprehension without the use of Duolingo. With that said...

I assume the tree will see few, if any changes over the long run. The best suggestions I would have from my perspective are to move some verb forms higher up. Personally, I have a much easier time picking up vocabulary but could have used more practice along the way with verb tenses and grammatical concepts. I also would have liked to see a higher requirement of typing Spanish translations for English sentences (though I hear that is the majority of the Spanish -> English course, which I'll be off to next!).

I have dabbled in Immersion but felt that it was giving too much XP for the investment. Maybe it's just my quirk, but I would have felt silly being level 20 or higher with a yet-uncompleted tree. I will say though that writing has been my next key focus.

Duo has given me a strong foundation in reading Spanish, but my writing could use a lot of work, and my aural comprehension is pretty shaky. I have barely tried talking to anyone outside of talking along to Duo when practicing at home. These are all things I hope to work on, with a variety of sources.

Ultimately, in my career field of accounting/finance, there is a need for folks who are bilingual. It is my hope that someday I could fill a role that requires that. Where I am employed now, we have a production facility in Mexico, so perhaps down the road I could take my humble beginnings at Duo and turn it into a lucrative and fulfilling career bump. Or maybe it is just a fun, fulling, mind-expanding endeavor to keep focused on. No matter what, hitting this goal has been many months in slow progress, but it has been a lot of fun, and I can see an enormous improvement over the first day I tried it out.

Thanks for reading, keep on keepin' on, and have a wonderful weekend!

3 years ago

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/TrioLinguist

Congratulations! I agree on the passage about not enough writing in the target language. They do this to make one think one is better in the language than one really is, for encouragement. I wish they had an option for those of us who don't need that extra encouragement.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TatianaBoshenka

First of all, congratulations to the OP. I'm using duolingo as the basis for my language study but also chatting with friends in Spanish, to help pick up the informal language, and reading in Spanish to help me pick up the more formal language. I don't have a way to get feedback for writing in Spanish more formally, yet. But perhaps I may find some email correspondents who will trade help in the other direction when I'm ready. I agree that it's much harder to speak and write in the target language than to listen and understand, and so we need more practice in that. But duolingo is super helpful for what it does. It is what has engaged me in learning. Once I have that, I can find other resources for help in various directions.

spanishdict.com is super helpful in many ways. The flashcards help me expand my vocabulary over what DL has, the grammatical information is more plentiful and much more easily accessible than DLs. I even tried their fluencia program for a bit but I think it's not nearly as good as DL for motivation and interest. So my advice is to spread your learning around as much as possible.

For me the translation on DL doesn't give enough xp for the effort I'm expending there so that's why I don't use it as much. Maybe somehow I am doing it in a way that uses up my mental energy more, or something. But I have the opposite problem than the OP.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hend6
hend6
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I have utilized spanishdict for a number of reasons, and plan to explore it a little more with time. Also, I have begun using Interpals to try and connect with native speakers to improve my writing skills and learn some of the informal words/phrases. Immersion-wise, I have saved a link or two to Youtube videos that seemed helpful to watch through and follow along with. It is something I would have liked to start doing sooner, but alas, I see that my narrow focus has left me much better at reading Spanish than writing/hearing/speaking.

I think a big problem for my rapid XP gains from Immersion is the ability to get XP by rating others' translations. By reading through already-completed sentences and rating "Looks good", I would often churn out 20 or 30 XP within just a few minutes of reading. I imagine this problem gets exacerbated once you reach higher translation tiers and the XP penalties are reduced. I really like that Duo can provide these difference experiences though!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EugeneTiffany

Hola. Got to say something. You must not have spent much time drrilling to have so few XPs. In my view, repeating lessons, and even redoing early lessons, is the ONLY way to go. Memorization is not the key to learning, but familiarization is. And the way to become familiar is via much exposure. That means drilling, AMD lots more drilling. I haveseen people get through the tree in two months .Obviouspy, they did no drilling at all and jumped to the next lesson ad soon a it unlocked treating the whole process as a kind of racing game using short term memory, only. I say, why bother with that? What's the point? Just to boast that one finished the tree in two months?

I started off on a gallup and completed ten lessons in three days, but came to my senses and realized I was making a mistake. So I started all over, going slow. I worked each lesson until I got three hearts, three times, then I would move to the next. I have nearly completed about one third of the tree TWICE! I am NOT striving to get through the tree but to learn Spanish, and becoming completely familiar with what Duolingo provides is the way. As it is going when I do finish the tree I will astounded if I have less than a hundred XPs. With ONLY 15, it is clear, you did no real drilling at all. And you had the opportunity, and still do. And I can't understand why you did not drill, drill, drill.

By the way, I know others learning Spanish using Duolimg just like I am. One does a great more drilling than me, even. She will easily top two hundred XPs before she is done The thing to be embarrassed about is the lack of XPs, and not having a lot of them. They indicate how much work one has applied to one's studies. Note, I have never been in Immersions so I have nothing to say about that.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TrioLinguist

I do agree to an extent. I do two lessons a day, no more, no less. One of the reasons being that I'll finish my tree on my special day. I do lots of practice, however, 7 full-20 Timed Practices, three of which are on the last three skills, the other four is general strengthening. I think it's perfect as I make good progress but practice enough to retain it as I move into next skills.

"I am NOT striving to get through the tree but to learn Spanish"

That right there, is inspirational. The goal here is not to finish the tree at level 11 as I've seen some people do, and do 2 skills a day, without doing any practice, finishing the tree in a matter of a couple of months. This is the flaw of the 'gamified' experience, some people really do treat it as a game and don't focus on the language so much. I'll be in the 20's for sure when I finish the tree, but not 25 unless I do immersion.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/doctorbird

I agree. when i started I wanted to just finish a lesson with no mistakes as fast as i could, i stopped that after a few days and now concentrate much more on the drills (when i found them). My learning and retention is so much better. I have used Spanishdict.com and culturealley both helped me a lot but this course helps me to construct sentences much quicker in my head and writing. Learning the possessives in Duolingo has made all the difference in being able to speak the language, even if I am only at the stage of constructing short sentences.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EugeneTiffany

Amigo, you got the right idea, for sure, but finishing the tree with 20 seems a bit few to me. But you are right on target about the gaming mentality. I have a large number of followers, but a large percentage of them at the end of last week had zero XPs for the week. Obviously, they have dropped out. My guess is a large percentage of people who start Duo are bored gamers, and Duo looks a lot like a good game to play. But they soon learn that it is hard work and no fun. However, for those that are here to learn Spanish it is both hard work a whole lot of exciting fun. What is a great pleasure is to see a new sentence and know what it says. That feels amazing to be able to do that. Means, one has learned something here. And it's great validation of that.

And you are right about the fast tree climbers. They usually show 12 to 16 XPs. What they do is jump to the next lesson as soon as it opens and never mind they had three errors on the lesson they were on. Don't matter to them at all. The new system eliminates that You can't now get to the next lesson without fully learning the current at least temporarily.

Short term memory is powerful. That's the type of memory we use to recall where we parked the car at the mall. But that memory is soon lost. It is supposed to go soon away. And no one that has ever done the tree in two months has used anything but their short term memory. So why bother? Well, being able to post thst one finished the tree in two months would make a gamer proud, I will have to admit that.

I recommend you aim for having a lot higher number of XPs than 20 when you finish the tree by drilling more. If you take that advice you will be happy for it I am sure.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/StuartGlasgow

Eugene, I'm replying to your posts here as they won't let me further down the thread. As I said in my post that's just my opinion - personally I don't think your method would work for me (and by the sounds of it hend6). But if it is working for you then great.

I don't know what your sarcastic reply at the bottom is all about, we're all in here to help and offer advice to each other. Yes we have differing opinions on what works but they are just opinions!

hend6, like myself, has experince of Spanish before, making progress through the tree easier. He has previously completed two years of Spanish classes, I did various courses including around 80% of Duolingo before coming back to it a year later and starting from scratch.

You lecture me against using figures from the site as a gauge of how you are doing, yet you're apparently doing the same thing, by trying to get 100% before progressing. Like I said, that's completely fine if it works for you as it appears to.. It's just we have differing expectations of how we progress, and that's completely cool. If a beginner went through the tree without any repetition or other learning material then yes, I agree it would not be a great way to learn (unless he was Raymond Babbitt!)

Duolingo's "Practice" is designed to naturally repeat words after a set period of time, and also bring up words you have got wrong or have even had to peek at during the exercises. According to Luis and the rest of the team it's "based on natural learning algorithms", and I find personally it works pretty well for me. I'm retaining the vast majority of the course, and the stuff I've missed is flagged by Duo and I have to repeat it as part of my practice until I start getting it right (even after "completing" the tree).

I hope we can put things aside and find some common ground on what things do work, even though we obviously have different ways and expectations of using Duolingo. I think everyone can agree that Duo is a great resource, even better when you consider it's completely free!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hend6
hend6
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Eugene,

I think that a lot of your post is very presumptuous to believe that all people learn the same way and that you know my patterns better than I do. I am not going to start a battle here with you, as you seem to just want to speak negatively about anything other than your own narrow view on how languages are learned.

I have been working on this tree for about seven months now. I in no way rushed through it, nor did I come here to brag about my rate of completion. I fully intend to keep my Spanish for English tree golden, as I have done consistently for the last three months (my first four months were spottier as I went through a lot of big life changes), as I also continue onto the English for Spanish speakers course.

It sounds like you misinterpreted my posts and my gripes with the XP rate of Immersion as somehow being a knock onto people who work at a slower pace. This is not the case at all, and I would suggest you read my responses again if you are still fired up about it. It's great if people want to work slower or faster. The end goal is learning the language, and I am excited that people can do that at whatever pace they are comfortable with. The point I really was trying to hone in on, is that Immersion felt like a bad choice to me personally because it would overinflate my XP count, and I would be levels higher with a marginal gain on my actual grasp of the language. The same can be said for timed practices, which I almost entirely ignore because I feel like I rush through them and get an overinflated amount of XP. This is not to disparage any other person's use of this site or way of learning. It is merely my own feedback as of spending seven months here and finishing the tree.

I don't intend to respond to you any further on this matter. I just wanted to speak my peace. I will suggest strongly that you ease up on making assumptions about people you know nothing about. Enjoy your time on Duo.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/StuartGlasgow

Totally agree with you here hend6. I finished my Spanish tree on level 16 as well - feel that striving for absolute perfection by repeating exercises over and over until I had done 3 perfect runs each time would severely hold back my progress and be a waste of my time. Like yourself I'm at a pretty decent level of comprehension, the way Duolingo works it will naturally give us our weak words to practice anyway and we can continue to improve without wasting our time. Good work on starting the reverse tree - I'm also going through it and finding it a lot more useful than I thought I would!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Tom873317
Tom873317
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I think you're missing the whole philosophy of "spaced reptition" that so much of Duo's effectiveness is built upon. For most of us, there are only so many minutes per day for this task, and Duo has an algorithm to optimize that time, what to practice and when. When the whole tree is golden, that's the program telling you it's OK to move on. When skills decay, it's time to review.

By overdrilling on the same material, you might learn it more thoroughly, but at diminishing returns on your time, and to the detriment of more advanced lessons. No matter how you tackle it, when you finish the tree, you will be nowhere near fluency. Every article in Immersion has tons of vocabulary and usage not even found in the tree.

So now I'm making Anki flashcards for all new words or constructs I come across in Immersion, and my current routine is to practice the immersion flashcards, keep the tree gold, and work through the reverse tree.

Anyway, that is my take on Duo's philosophy. Your mileage will vary, and only you can know what works best for you, but Duo knows what is most likely to work for most people - that is their raison d'etre.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/moshen244
moshen244
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I do not see any correlation at all between Duo's predictions of fading and my actual fading. This may be because I didn't start with Duolingo from scratch. I already knew some Spanish, though I'd forgotten a lot. This means that my forgetting is not going to be typical or average compared with those whose Spanish started with Duolingo.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TrioLinguist

@EugeneTiffany (We're at the reply limit so this is replying to your reply on mine)

I should let you know that I'm not done my tree yet! I still have a way to go.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/StuartGlasgow

Personally I finished the Spanish tree around a similar level to hend6. Am I perfect? No. However I feel going through units repeatedly until I had full lives left three times in a row would hold back my progress. At level 16 with a completed (gold) tree I'd say I answer 85-90% of questions thrown up in practice perfectly. The 10-15% I do still lose a life on are largely correct, with a small error that causes me to lose a life. I'd rather be at that stage than 100% but only a third of the way through the course having put in a lot more hours. But that's just my opinion! As I practice Duolingo concentrates on the words that I struggle with, so I'm hopeful by the time I reach level 20 I will be near 100%.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wildfood
wildfood
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Congrats for finishing your tree and kudos for the Yoshi avatar!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/markrjones

Congratulations and well done for sticking with it. I have to admit that I have no idea how the allocation of XP works. I knew some Spanish before starting so did a test and commenced at around level 6, I think. I am now close to finishing the tree and have reached level 10, and I remain unclear as to how people eventually get to level 25..... and now edited, having read some of the negative reaction you received above.... who cares! I came here to improve my Spanish and the number of XP and the level are entirely irrelevant to me, the outcome I am looking for is improvement.

Anyway, to some of your points. I agree with your views about vocabulary versus verb tenses and grammatical concepts. Even past two thirds down the tree there still isn't enough verb tense practice for me. One of the main reasons I looked at Duolingo is that although I have a pretty good vocabulary, I tend to live in the present tense. When speaking to people in Spanish I often use the present tense and explain to them that I mean the past tense but have forgotten the word. That has to stop!

As for aural comprehension, I think that's the area that most external help is needed, sources other than Duolingo are must, IMO.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hend6
hend6
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Thanks! That's great that you already had a foundation before starting here. Level 25 is a distant thought for me too, especially since my focus is going to be on getting through the English for Spanish course now. I assume that once you hit a higher translation tier, XP gains are very rapid. It's a great goal to have open though to see progress over time. I would feel bummed out if finishing the tree was the end of the Duo experience!

I feel like I succumb to the same problem in my writing and speaking, that I am stuck in the present tense. I find myself referring too often to spanishdict.com for conjugations, but hope that continual practice will help the tenses sink in more. Duo packed in some tenses right near the end, but it definitely wasn't enough exposure for me. I definitely need more aural exposure too and plan to work on that part more and more. It is wonderful to have a nice starting point at least with Duo!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/moshen244
moshen244
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I am doing the Pimsleur audio course along with Duolingo and I find the Pimsleur method MUCH more helpful. One benefit is that they never give you stupid sentences to translate or learn with in Pimsleur, and they introduce new verb tenses in a very natural and easy to learn method without having to memorize conjugations or even learn the names of the tenses. However, I am a very auditory person. If you are a visual person you might prefer Duolingo and even Rosetta Stone, which I hated.

One thing I do very much like about Duolingo is where they let you slow down a sentence to hear the individual words. I find that this helps me avoid a lot of hearing mistakes.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Geo430
Geo430
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"Maybe it's just my quirk, but I would have felt silly being level 20 or higher with a yet-uncompleted tree." It's not your quirk, other users on the site finish their trees at around where you are. Others, like me, prefer to wait longer until finishing their tree. For instance, I have about five or six skills yet, but I want to wait until I get to Level 20 until I finish my tree. A few users don't finish their tree until they have even reached Level 25.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hend6
hend6
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Sure, that makes sense. Maybe it's my poor phrasing, but I would not have felt weird to be level 25 by the time I finished a tree. It's just if that XP came from Immersion work instead of tree-related studies that would have made me feel weird. Admittedly, today and yesterday were quiet days at work and so I did rush through a number of the final lessons. I've kept my tree golden each day though, and plan to keep doing that to continue practicing lessons that I may not have spent much time on yet.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jsapp214

You sound like a robot. But if you aren't congrats and hope you get that Mexico business trip in the future!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hend6
hend6
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Definitely not a robot. I guess it has become habitual from using business language 40+ hours a week!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jsapp214

Hope you didn't think it was rude You sound like my Spam box Lol

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hend6
hend6
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Haha, not rude, just I haven't heard that before. It's hard for me to write informally I guess is all!

3 years ago