I love everything they are doing on this site, but I know from experience that talking, listening and understanding are some of the harder parts about learning a new language. Having regional meet-ups or a way to somehow get a buddy in the area would be super helpful to practice with. I don't mean for everyone to post their addresses on the internet (cause that is a bad idea) but there has got to be an easy way to run that through this site.
If duolingo organizes/runs meetups then maybe there could be special competition drills that only work at a meetup. For example, computers networked at the meetup could all take part in a timed vocab drill, each person in own lang at own level. Have heats so that five or ten or so compete at once (assuming large attendance). Winners from each heat based on coins/points/lingot earned. Winners of a large meetup get a special prize. Would encourage meetup attendance, too.
I'm sure most major cities have a discussion group. My city has a Portuguese discussion group that is in no way associated with Duolingo. There are other websites on the internet...Duolingo shouldn't be the only one you use to learn a language (I'm sure Duolingo would even agree with that).
The problem with a duolingo meetup is that everyone would be learning a foreign language. Try and find native speakers who aren't on duolingo.
Yep, I agree. There are 'Meet-up' groups for several languages in many cities - for example there are 3 Spanish; 6 Italian; 10 French; 6 German and 1 Portuguese groups, just in my city! I have frequented one of the Spanish groups and found them really useful in practicing Spanish. We have Spanish learners from early to advanced as well as a continual stream of native Spanish speakers who visit the group, some on an occasional basis, others fairly regularly. See: http://www.meetup.com/
I agree Skype is excellent and can be used on the go. If there are places you frequently visit where Spanish is spoken make a friend or start to speak in Spanish. I have a Spanish restaurant close by where I told the person I am learning Spanish and would you speak to me in Spanish so I can practice and its helping.