Overcoming hitting a wall

I have been here for two weeks now and am excited to have made it to Level 8 on French in such a short time. I've spent quite a bit of time on here because I am home from college on a break and only working part-time. I hope that when my spring semester begins I can set aside time each day to devote to DuoLingo and learning French :)

I really feel like I am learning a lot on here, and through some additional resources that I have. I'd say that so far 1 day out of every 7 I come on here and do lessons I hit a wall. I think I've figured out why too. The worst times I've had on here are when I limit my ability to learn

  1. When I am rushing through a lesson for whatever reason (e.g time constraint, XP, etc.)

  2. When I am distracted by other things (e.g Facebook, music, TV, etc.)

  3. When I do more than 10 lessons in a day - similar to #1, I become rushed and don't spend time studying and retaining what I have learned.

I guess I'm just sharing what I've learned in the past two weeks in this post but also wondering what all of you do to overcome "hitting a wall"?

January 14, 2015


From what you wrote, it sounds like what is happening is that you are worried that you are not getting it all in one try. It is crucial that you keep in mind that this isn't a one-time thing where you finish the tree and you know your language.

Aside from agreeing with all of the excellent suggestions already posted here, I would strongly recommend that you not worry so much about "getting it all" right away and remember this is a process. At some point you will not have to try and retain any longer, and you will just know the answers. When you get to that point then you will find that you understand the rules and usages of many things that you just memorized before. It just takes time to internalize a language.

This site does a good job breaking up "types" of words and phrases and them presenting them in some order where they build into some familiarity with the language. What it can't do however, is make sure that you understand the why of that order and how it is building. It also can't ensure that you don't forget or get tired along the way. This happens to everyone and the only cure is to keep practicing and refreshing your language tree while mixing it up with TV, books, radio, movies, and music. Practice will keep you involved with the language until you can get over the bump.

So what I am saying is, sometimes the only way past a wall is to return to it a few months from now and breeze through it.

PS: I was thinking back on when I was really tired and not understanding the lessons, and I remember what worked really well was to go to another language learning site and just breezing through the entry levels. That refresher and confidence boost helped me enormously. No offense to the Great Owl.

January 14, 2015

Thanks for your suggestions :) I've really been looking at it as more of a fun and challenging process as opposed to something that will just happen overnight!

January 15, 2015

Go back and review the lessons you feel you rushed through to make sure you don't have a weak foundation for future lessons.

January 14, 2015

I overcome hitting a wall by reminding myself to have fun and enjoy the learning process. Learning a language to me is more like running a marathon. I say, enjoy the journey! And I find speaking the language out loud helps put the grammatical pieces together. Personally, I have tremendous social anxiety, so I do this through verbal lessons like Pimsleur. I'm just about to finish Pimsleur's French course.

January 14, 2015

Try mixing things up, comics, books, DVDs etc. That's what I do. Plus it helps to go skiing or something there.

January 14, 2015

We all hit walls now and again, for me it's usually getting stuck on a long topic (10 or so lessons) where I lose momentum if I try the first lesson a few times and it's really hard.

I know that Duolingo is all about the little-piece-every-day, but sometimes I take a break if I'm not feeling it. I did that over Christmas (about 3 weeks) and when I came back I breezed through my tricky topic because my brain was well rested :)

If you hit a wall it could be that your head has already had a lot of new information. There is nothing wrong with laying low for a few days and just Strengthening your acquired skills. For topics I found tricky when I first did them (like prepositions) I go back and rework all the lessons now and again even if they are not indicated as weak.

I couple my Duo French with the excellent vocabulary deck at Memrise: I find it more friendly for vocab repetition than the Words section of Duo. I create flashcards as I move along my tree and then I review them anytime I'm waiting for a bus or something.

Another things works for me is swapping between the app and browser Duolingo experience, it is slightly different which sometimes changes it up just enough to get the ball rolling for me again.

January 14, 2015

Thanks a lot for this :) Good advice!

January 15, 2015

bonne chance

January 14, 2015

[deactivated user]

    When I'm at that point I just review the lessons I learned so far (strengthen skills) including other programs I'm using, but also put what I learned to use. I keep a journal and write down a few sentences about my day and plans for tomorrow in French. I also read French newswires to see if I am able to read it through without constant translation.

    Finding French speaking partners also helps. I would check to see if your school has a French club or language exchange group.

    January 15, 2015

    Gavin, it sounds to me as though you are doing very well with your studies. Perhaps you put too much pressure on yourself and need to actually enjoy the fact that you ARE learning :-) ( this is something I am guilty of) I find that what is really helpful is going over the same modules again and again until I am sailing through them. It is such a thrill to answer a question, and understand and spell it correctly, when I started off by not having a clue :-) Remember there is nobody looking over your shoulder with a big stick and remember too to pat yourself on the back occasionally. You will be able to converse in French in the future. Great. Be proud of that. I sometimes listen to easy French conversation on YouTube and also listen to French Talk shows using Tunein Radio on my Ipad instead of my usual UK channel ! I may not be fluent yet but I am sure picking up the accent :-) Whatever our hobbies, our jobs or trying to learn anything, there will always be some days better or worse than others but the good days sure make up for it. Good luck

    January 15, 2015

    Thanks Avril :) Yeah I have taken a step back to really just enjoy learning French! Thanks for your advice.

    January 16, 2015

    This piece from the memrise blog might help:

    Five ways to change your language learning in 2015

    January 15, 2015
    Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.