Laddering is awesome!
I recently finished my French from English tree and wanted to keep practicing French as I started the Spanish from English tree, but I found switching between two languages so closely related was really confusing. Now I'm at level 5 of the Spanish from French tree and I'm finding it highly effective. I'm training myself to understand the languages without translating through English in my head. The hardest part is switching between accents!
It is quite the brain twister. I'm goofing around with frances desde español. It does force you to think in your target language.
I started the German for Russian tree as well because I just couldn't wait any longer for Russian (also I'd rather learn it in German). Do you use any outside resources to supplement it or just power through? It can be rough trying to pick up on a different grammar system without explanations.
I am a bit luckier because I already speak Russian; I studied it at university. It was a long time ago and I've forgotten an awful lot - I used to be fluent - but I still retain more than enough to say stuff like "the woman eats the bread, I have a horse" etc. I honestly don't know how well I'd cope with it if I didn't have the relevant background, so I'm probably not a particularly good person to ask!
That said; I do dabble in a few Russian Memrise courses. The one I personally have used most is the 10,000 words in frequency order one. It doesn't give you much in the way of grammar, though. Cherub721 has created a course based on the Duolingo RussianEnglish tree. There's also one called learn basic Russian (the icon is fireworks over St Basil's cathedral) which from what I've seen looks pretty good.
I also do a little on Busuu... I think those are probably the main things I do outside of Duolingo.
I'm sorry, that's really not much help most probably. If you have any questions feel free to bend my ear, and I know there are a lot of Russian speakers in the Engish from Russian forum who would be able to help or might be up for language exchange. I imagine the Russian>English tree might help too.
I started with Spanish from English then I laddered to Spanish from French (when it was in beta) I've reached level 25 yesterday. I found that the content is significantly different. The expressions differ greatly. I'm now doing English from Spanish and again I'm seeing expressions that I've not seen in either of the first two. I peeked at the French from Spanish and it also contains a lot of new expressions. It is awesome.
So far my biggest problem is remembering which language I'm supposed to use in the answer.
I fully agree with you. Different vocabulary, different sentences, it's a great way to learn more and more useful sentence structures.
Awesome! It didn't work well for me. I'm a German native and fluent in English as well, but having learned French from English, I unfortunately experienced that I was able to use French in an English environment, but not in a German one (and I need that for my current vocational training). Thus I changed to the French for German speakers tree and finished it in December.
The very good question is why laddering seems to work for some people and why not. If anybody knows some studies about that topic, please drop a line and don't hesitate to provide me a link =)
I'm afraid you might keep translating everything in your head, which seems logical since this is how you learned the language. You have to find a way to "switch" into thinking in French, as you probably do in English. It's hard, I know, I'm trying to achieve the same thing in German right now ;-)
I'm an native English speaker and I've been doing the French for German tree for a couple weeks now. From what I can tell, it's actually strengthening my German a lot more than my French
I find that the tree actually helps you more in the base language than the target one. That's why I'm doing the trees for German speakers (finished the English one, tackling the French one and waiting for the Spanish one.)
Though I must admit the EN->DE one was a necessary introduction to the basics of German. But just an introduction ; only now is it getting interesting ;-)
Yeah, it really helps you think in the base language, because you have to translate to it rather than from it