not enough english to spanish

I wanted to ask if anyone else feels like there is an overemphasis on translating from Spanish to English? I think it's much more representative of your skill if you can remember Spanish words and construct them into a sentence than if you can simply understand what is being written/said in Spanish. I find writing and speaking harder than reading and understanding spoken Spanish, and recognising words is easier than reproducing them. Even the 'write down the Spanish that you hear' task seems to occur less often than 'translate this written Spanish' task.

Is there a way to make duolingo focus more on English->Spanish i.e. writing/speaking exercises?

5/2/2015, 4:59:19 PM


Exactly! One must be able to construct sentences in Spanish to be able to communicate.

5/2/2015, 5:06:58 PM
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I started a separate thread about this before I saw this one, as I am also extremely frustrated with this:

It appears that the sudden reduction in "recall" exercises (translation into target language) is a result of an A/B test that is going on currently. The changes may or may not become permanent.

There is nothing you can do to change it (except to give your feedback to Duolingo), but you can see which group you are in by going to your browsers development console.

Press F12 and then in the console prompt (bottom of the screen, at least on chrome) write "duo.user.attributes.ab_options" then enter. You'll then see a list of settings - you may need to click on it to expand the full list.

Look for a setting like this:


Mine says "control", which I reckon means I am in a control group with no or almost no recall exercises.

5/3/2015, 3:04:57 PM

[deactivated user]

    mine says "moderate". Don't know what that means, but I'm not happy with the situation-> not a lot of translating from English to Spanish

    5/3/2015, 4:54:44 PM
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    I take that to mean that you have had a moderate reduction in translations to Spanish, but not as much as some other users who are in the aggressive or control groups.

    5/3/2015, 6:13:40 PM

    What's the ab test sg_avoid_typing_in_from_language_experiment?

    2/6/2016, 11:08:43 PM

    It used to seem like a slight imbalance--60% to 40% or so--but now it definitely seems like I'm doing a lot more translating into the tree's "from" language than the other way around. I suspect there's the imbalance because translating into your native language naturally comes first in language acquisition. Since we're all (presumably) beginners, they want to keep things easier as concepts are introduced. I'm not sure why the shift though (if the shift is indeed real and not just imagined on my part). It would make the most sense to me to have more to-native translation in the lessons but then the strengthening would have more to-target translation.

    Doing the reverse tree (as I'm doing) does give you lots of opportunities to translate to Spanish, but it also throws up some challenges in other ways. I recommend it once you get a grasp on direct/indirect objects and both past tenses. (You could always review the imperfect past tense on your own if you wanted to start the tree sooner.)

    Do you want suggestions for how to do more to-Spanish translating on your own or with other programs?

    5/2/2015, 5:10:46 PM

    yes I would have thought the strengthening would shift focus to English->Spanish, but alas. I would love such suggestions! I had been thinking about maybe doing the reverse tree but as you said: grammar. I am only level 7. I also find the grammar practice not optimal so far actually. It seems kind of messy...but I realise I haven't actually entered hardcore grammar waters yet.

    5/2/2015, 5:31:58 PM

    For me, the grammar benefit is in repetition and reading the forum posts. I get more out of my workbook for class, and in the class discussions.

    Anyway, here are some ideas that I've seen around here and tried myself:

    • Do flashcards in the English-Spanish direction. The Words tab probably won't suffice here, so look on Memrise, Quizlet, or elsewhere.

    • When you read something small (like the side of a cereal box), translate it to Spanish. Don't worry about the words you don't know, because the object is to practice construction rather than vocabulary. Alternately, you could talk around the word you don't know (for "nutrition" you could say "comida para salud.") (Or as my Spanish teacher suggests, try pronouncing the English word "Spanish" and you might be very close.)

    • Participate or start a translation post in the forums. Here's one.

    • This was recommended in another post:

    • Join the Spanish-to-English forums and start writing. Or, start writing in Spanish in these forums. People are happy to correct your grammar (sometimes to the detriment of actually participating in the topic, I've found). You can issue a challenge or discussion topic, or you could just post your sentences for feedback.

    I've been collecting resources on my Pinterest board and just realized it's severely lacking in writing practice. But you might appreciate some of the other resources there.

    Buena suerte!

    5/2/2015, 6:50:43 PM

    I have serious trouble using the flashcard function. I find it unintuitive, hard to work with, and not terribly responsive. It might be that my standards are high because I use Anki, but I'd prefer flashcards to be more customizable than that.

    It looks like the AB test is over and it's permanently shifted to overbalance to English. Which is annoying because I learn way better the other way. However, presumably they can offer us a personal slider to choose the balance of words. I'd generally choose far more English->Spanish because I learn better from having to recall the words and their conjugations.

    That said, the later units need far more examples than they currently have. There are terrible overabundances of sentences on some basic words and almost no sentences on others. I've completed training units where I saw one of the words 10 times (in basically the same sentence but with different pronouns) and another of the words 0 times.

    3/16/2016, 8:20:45 AM
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    As I learn more Spanish words, I find myself sometimes talking out loud and naming off something in Spanish, like some kids that has just learned to speak. :)

    5/3/2015, 1:24:06 AM

    I had just come to the same realization yesterday. One thing I have started doing is trying to translate in my head what I am saying throughout the day. Also, as comfortable as you get at understanding the Spanish as it's presented on Duolingo, if you watch Spanish television or listen to Spanish radio, it is much more difficult.

    5/2/2015, 9:01:34 PM

    This has always been the case with DL. It is an excellent way to get started. I found however that, after finishing the Spanish tree, I was in no way ready to say anything except for the most basic of Spanish sentences during a trip trip to Panama.

    (The current features being tested are so poor that it is a surprise that they were even judged worthy of being tested. I can't see them surviving as permanent fixtures.)

    In any event… I added MosaLingua into the mix. It has a much higher ratio of English to Spanish and delivers more complex sentences. And I still mix a little DL into my practice most days, although that may be my OCD speaking ;-)

    My English to Spanish has definitely improved as a result. DL is a great way to get started. If you don't want to get past the "struggling tourist" stage, it's enough. But you definitely need to Supplement with other apps go deeper on the English to Spanish, as well as learn more formal verb conjugation and grammar.

    5/4/2015, 12:20:53 AM

    I watched the video and read the "about our method" for Mosalingua and still can't figure out what it is. Just flashcards?

    Edit: Downloaded the free version: you're first shown flashcards, then you have a few more rounds where you're supposed to write, or translate from the audio prompt, etc. There are also dialogue listening portions. It seems really neat!

    Along those lines is Mindsnacks where you also work through phrases in myriad ways. Only unlike Duo or Mosa, these games are actually games. The sentence construction isn't as flexible as Duolingo (no switching gender around when it honestly could be either one), but it's a really nice extension of practice.

    5/4/2015, 2:00:32 AM
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    Do the reverse tree for now. Also, maybe try keeping a diary but in Spanish! It'll force you to learn new words and concepts

    5/4/2015, 1:34:36 AM
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    I completely agree! I see that this post is three years old, but I still encounter this problem.

    I saw an answer from duolingo saying that they do this not to lose beginning learners. And that you will get more English to Spanish exercises when you are more advanced. But I am now a level 23 spanish speaker with 316 crowns and almost all skills at level 3 (all at least 2), but I am still getting only about 10% english to spanish exercises. So when are the english to spanish exercises increased then??

    I would like to write an email to duolingo, but I don't see any contact information.. It feels like I'm learning more English than Spanish here..

    1/16/2019, 1:33:35 PM

    This may yet again be a matter of Duo trying to find out how difficult it can become without losing users. Since, as far as I know, Duo makes money by having those of us that are Spanish learners go into immersion and translate Spanish into English (not English into Spanish) it may behoove us to remember that Duo is, ultimately, doing this to support their business model (translating written text English => Spanish) rather than support our desires to become 'fluent' in speaking/writing/listening to Spanish.

    5/3/2015, 6:47:03 PM

    I thought the ones that were making money were labeled. At least, they used to be. And I saw those "for profit" labels in the to-Spanish immersion side, not the to-English. That is, Duo makes money from immersion from English learners, not English speakers.

    5/3/2015, 9:25:12 PM

    Personally I find understanding spoken Spanish (by native speakers) far more difficult than reading, writing and speaking Spanish myself. I have found Language Transfer Complete Spanish ( to be of great help in understanding Spanish language structures and how to construct sentences in a logical way, as opposite of trying to memorize everything. Language Transfer is the single source that by far has helped me become more conversational in Spanish. I've lived in Andalucia, Spain 6 months per year for 3 years and I speak a lot with the local people. I still struggle a lot understanding what they are saying when going full speed though :)

    5/2/2015, 10:31:18 PM

    More Spanish

    5/4/2015, 12:00:34 PM
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    This should definitely be an option in the settings. I would like to be able to ONLY translate from English to target language. As it is now, it is more useful to take the course English for Spanish speakers as it has more English to Spanish (which makes no sense at all).

    5/17/2017, 11:09:51 PM

    I agree. This was one of the first things I noticed.

    11/28/2017, 6:36:39 PM
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