https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

Things I wish I knew when I first started using Duolingo

Howdy Folks, here are some things I picked up along the way that I wish I knew about Duolingo when I started:

  1. Duolingo is awesome! It’s a really good way to improve your language skills.
  2. The mobile versions are nice, but the online versions are better. I now only use the mobile versions when I don’t have access to my computer. (NB: I only use the iOS versions, I don’t know whether this applies to the other mobile versions.)
    3.Get the timed exercises as soon as you can. I find that the timed reviews (or the time practice sessions as Duolingo calls them) are the best way to determine how well I know a section. If I can’t do a timed review with 19 or 20 correct and at least 30 seconds of extra time on the clock, that means I don’t know the material well enough.
  3. I could not use only Duolingo to study German. Lots of folks have posted excellent links to other resources. I started over a year ago using Duolingo as my only source, and I found it to be too frustrating to use. Since then I have completed the 90-lesson Pimsleur series and started German classes. Duolingo now serves as an excellent review tool because it is a completely different experience than Pimsleur and my classes.
  4. The voice recognition software is not very good. I frequently turn it off because I find it to be so inconsistent and slow. For example, there have been many times that I know I have misspoken (e.g., saying “die” instead of “den” or “a” instead of “ä”), but the computer still gives me a pass. There are also times when I know I am saying it correctly, but the computer doesn’t recognize the sounds. I do turn it on sometimes to see if it is any better. I would note that I am taking German classes so I don’t really need this function.
  5. Even if I pass a lesson, I will redo it immediately if I don’t feel that I mastered the vocabulary or grammar.
  6. The flashcards aren’t worth the effort. Everyone accurately says that in German you must (MUST!) learn the genders of the nouns. I would add that you need to learn the plurals as well. The flashcards don’t help you do that. Also whatever algorithm Duolingo uses to generate the flashcard doesn’t function very well. There have been many occasions when the same (easy) word has appeared several times in consecutive flashcard sets and others words that I have not seen for weeks have never appeared. I now just run through the list and make sure I know the meanings of all the words. If I don’t know the meaning, the gender, the plural, or the conjugation of the word; I click on it and review it on screen – that is a nice function, although they still don’t have plurals! If you want to use a good flashcard program, I would recommend quizlet or flascard+.
  7. When Duolingo indicates that I need to review a lesson, I now start with a timed practice of that lesson (unless I already know that I need a more thorough review). If I can’t do the timed practice and get 19 or 20 right with at least 30 seconds of time left, I will do all the lessons again and then use the timed practice as a test. It’s perhaps too much effort, but at least I know I know the stuff.
  8. I haven’t found the bonus skills to be worth the effort. There is just not enough useful stuff in them to make them worthwhile.

As I mention in (1) above, Duolingo is awesome!

I hope you find these tips useful (if not, please feel free to correct them) and that some of you will add other tips we could all use. I haven’t done enough of the immersions to know whether they are useful. I’ll start doing more of them now that I have completed my tree.

December 21, 2014

43 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimberlytylr

I, too, combine Duolingo with Pimsleur for a more complete experience. I have also found the radio podcasts (Radio D and Grüße aus Deutschland) on the Goethe Institut website to be a great help. These are free and the transcripts are available so you can look at what they are saying when you do not fully understand by just listening.

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

Thanks for tip. I had forgotten how many useful tools there were on the Goethe Instut's site.

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Khantuta

Thank you for the feedback. I agree with all your observations. I am familiar with the Pimsleur approach, and find it to be excellent (specially on the go).

Your German lessons are surely providing a good opportunity to hear different accents and to concentrate on grammar points not covered by Duolingo. To boost your vocabulary and "translate" using meaningful texts, I would suggest to start reading books published in a dual edition, i.e. one where the original German is on one page, and its English translation is on the opposite page; Amazon is one of many vendors that sell them (put "dual language German" in the search book). Viel Erfolg und Spaß beim Studium! :)

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

Thanks. I'll give it a shot.

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zzxzzwzx

مرحبا الجميع ، يرجى ترجمة هذا مع العربية لل مترجم باللغة الإنجليزية لأن اللغة العربية هي اللغة الوحيدة التي أنا أتكلم

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Br4him

يبدو لي أن اللغة العربية ليست لغتك الأصلية .

December 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

نعم، أود أن ثاني جوجل ترجمة (https://translate.google.com/؟hl=en&tab=wT). أود أن تفعل ذلك بالنسبة لك، ولكن لن يكون لدي أي فكرة عما إذا كانت الترجمة (أو هذه الترجمة) دقيقة. حظا سعيدا!

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Emewow

I like doing each lesson three times or more. Yeah this is really tiring and I take an absurd time to finish the tree but that's the only way for me to remember a good amount of the vocabulary I learned. The timed practice is a great idea too.

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stesii21

I always learn what i can, even though i don't remember much and later i do all the lessons again, leave it for a while and do it again and again so i know it nearly by heart. It's not exactly fun but it works, or so i hope :-)

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/josh999333

Cheers for the advice kimolei!

Considering you're now level 17 on Duo and as you've said; completed the 90-lesson Pimsleur series and started German classes, how would you rate you're level of proficiency in German?

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

I'm not sure my experience would be a good measure, since I have been studying German fulltime since early September. Here's where I roughly stand using various rating systems: a) Duolingo: 4.85 out of 5 out of their progress test, which I took this weekend. b) Probably a low A2 on the European scale. c) On the oral proficiency scale, I'm pretty close to a 2 in speaking and a 2 in reading on a scale of 5 where 5 is professional-level fluency.

I think what that means in real life is that I am pretty good at daily conversations, but I don't have the grammar or vocabulary to have professional discussions yet. I can generally read an article about general topics and understand most of it. I have a lot of trouble reading anything technical or literary or scholarly.

The good news is that my wife and I are heading to Germany today for Christmas. This will be the real test! I'll let you know how it goes!

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HeatingUp

Very useful Thanks

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidIsGreat

I find listening to german music is good for practice, after hearing words a lot in songs it is very easy to memorize them :-)

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

Me, too. Do you know about the Lyrics Training (http://lyricstraining.com) website?

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThatsMyMom

hell yea, thx for that link!

December 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dgnorton

I have been doing the exercises over and over until I can go through them as fast as I can type. Then I start doing them with my eyes closed to get used to the spoken language without reading. Even with that, I found my first Skype session with a native speaker very hard.

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fiddlerkrt

Very good advice for any language in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I knew French beforehand so I completed the tree at level 12 or something. I'm at level 20 in Spanish but I've yet to complete the tree.

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ThatsMyMom

I like your "19 - 30-rule" to estimate wether you got it or not. I might implement that too. ("19-30-rule" sounds cool anyways. Thus I guess I will keep it in mind the next days, lets see if it forms a habit :D)

December 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

Good luck. I would just add that 19-30 is my target. I just reviewed politics and was nowhere close! I'll review it again in a few days and hope for better results.

December 23, 2014

[deactivated user]

    I would also recommend something called TeachYourself. It's a book and CD, and BY FAR my favourite way to learn a language. I used it for Norwegian, and it was great! I am going to get the Italian book, and use that, Duolingo, and any other sources I find. Also, my neighbours are from Florence, and I have a good friend who lives in southern Italy. TeacchYourself is very good, and I highly recommend it.

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ErickByaru

    Would you happen to have the link for the teach yourself German? And how much did it help you in Norwegian?

    December 23, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

    Here's a link http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Teach+yourself+german) to an Amazon search for the Teach Yourself series. I've never used the series, but it does seem to get good reviews.

    December 23, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jojo31413

    Thanks for the tips!

    December 23, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ohsalmeron

    As a new user find this interesting, still just as you said, Duolingo is awsome

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scalier

    Hi! Hey in point number three you mentioned timed exercises. Can you tell me where to find them? I just changed to the Online version instead of mobile so i don't know the interface that good. Thank you!

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

    Hi - "Timed Practice" can be found in the store (just click on the Lingot symbol). On my screen it's the first item under "Practice." Good Luck!

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scalier

    Thank you!

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/howard61

    On your home screen to the right of your tree is a bar labeled "Strengthen skills". Clicking that will allow you to choose timed or untimed practice covering all topics that you've completed. If you click on a completed topic in your tree, you will be shown the lessons with the option to redo. To the right you'll find a bar labeled "Strenghten topic". Click that to get to timed practice for that topic.

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scalier

    Thank you!

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stesii21

    Thak you :-) i have been wondering about that myself, but at this point i was to afraid to ask :-D (❤❤❤❤❤❤ 9gag, now i think in memes :-D)

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr.Nihongo

    I'm enjoying it. It works good.

    December 22, 2014

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/peeter001

    Vielen Dank! (A lingot given...)

    December 22, 2014

    [deactivated user]

      I would also recommend something called TeachYourself. It's a book and CD, and BY FAR my favourite way to learn a language. I used it for Norwegian, and it was great! I am going to get the Italian book, and use that, Duolingo, and any other sources I find. Also, my neighbours are from Florence, and I have a good friend who lives in southern Italy. TeacchYourself is very good, and I highly recommend it.

      December 22, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xjkwak

      Obrigado pelas dicas...

      December 23, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SierraSlim

      I no longer use Duolingo flashcards. Too many errors in the Italian flashcards. I use Quizlet, which works much better. I use it primarily to learn the verbs and verb conjugations.

      December 23, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kimolei

      I agree. I wonder, though, whether it affects the Duolingo algorithm in anyway. I read an earlier discussion over flashcards in which a comment was made that he had notices changes in what vocabulary Duolingo repeated in the lessons after he used the flashcards. Does anyone know whether that is true? Any Duolingo experts out there, who could tell us whether Duolingo uses results from the flashcards in any other way?
      Thanks

      December 23, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/balou67

      Nice post, 3a-5-7 should be in blinking red!

      December 23, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeepPracticing

      Lingot given; well said, kimolei. Duolingo has provided a free, incentive-loaded tool I enjoy using to learn, practice, and strengthen my language skills.
      Though I agree with your assessment of the voice-recognition software, I still use it - otherwise there are very few opportunities for me to speak German aloud (though I get lots of practice speaking Spanish with some of my students).

      December 23, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sradms0

      Ive mentioned this a long time ago and the staff said that they would try to bring it back? I don't know if you guys remember the "Word Practice" that used to be here but I thought that it was quite useful. I feel like they just replaced that with the flashcards which I think digital flashcards aren't as efficient as having physical ones. So anyways, to the beloved awesome Duo Team, if you would consider bringing the "Word Practice" feature back, that would be fantastic and way more useful than the digital flashcards (i think). Of course, this would be up to the other users in wanting this too.

      December 24, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusieTowers

      So important to supplement any language course with extracurricular stuff (or complete immersion if possible!). I listen to music, read, watch children's cartoons or foreign films on youtube, etc. Here in SoCal, so many people tell me how much they would love to learn Spanish and I am stupefied! One can pick up several Spanish newspapers for free, listen to the radio in Spanish, as you go to the Mexican market to shop where everything is bi-lingual or watch Spanish programming any hour of the day or night! I point this out when someone mentions that they need to take a Spanish language course and they look at me strangely!

      December 24, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katja...S

      Thank you for sharing these thoughts! I have been wondering about flashcards and timed practice. I found the flashcards useless as well. So far I have done only one timed practice but I think I need to take those into my regular training schedule.

      December 25, 2014
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