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  5. How do YOU use Duolingo?


How do YOU use Duolingo?

By now, I came across mainly two types of how learners use Duolingo:

  1. Using the tree as the main tool along with some other resources and usually going through the tree slowly. At the end of their tree, these people usually have already gained

Personally I use Duolingo as my main language learning tool. Additionally I do use Memrise alongside for learning more vocabulary, BliuBliu for immersion (when I either feel like my language skills are still too bad for Duolingo's Immersion or Duolingo hasn't an immersion section for that language) and YouTube & music for listening practice.

That means I go through my tree really slowly, making sure I understood everything to 100%, practising what I've learnt (mainly through YouTube comments, asking for correction) and listening a lot as I find pronounciation one of the most challenging aspects in learniing a new language. If I keep going that way and everything works out as it was planned, I should be at a good conversational level and be able to read easy books by the time I finish my tree.

Of course, once I finish my tree, I won't stop learning the language or something, but at that level I can base my learning mainly on 1) reading books, 2) listening to YouTube videos and 3) talking/writing with Natives, which are all things I do in my native tongue, too, and not for the sake of learning.

So, why do I use that method?

The thing is, I just don't feel like I'd need all the grammar and stuff Duolingo provides me at the beginning of my language learning journey. I mean, I started learning English 4 1/2 years ago and got along the first 2-3 years without knowing how to put a verb into passive, how to use the past progressive, how to build an "If-sentence type 3" or how to form a gerund pretty well because I knew how to make myself understood. And that came from surrounding myself with English (not intentionally, English actually is everywhere, whether I wanted or not.) and practising speaking and writing. And so far I'm trying the same with French and it works pretty well by now.

Which does not mean that I don't like the other method. I actually want to her your opinions because I'm thinking about trying out the other one.

  1. Using the tree to give them a head start into their target language, and going through the tree rather fast, often deciding at the end whether they want to keep studying that language seriously with other resources or whether they'll leave it at dabbling into the language.

I've never tried that method, so I guess can't judge it, so here are some questions about it:

How do you go on after Duolingo?

I would just feel kind of helpless after that, because, well, what's next? Which websites are the most helpful?

How do you make sure you keep going?

For me, the streak is one of the most motivating aspects and I can say for sure that I definitely would't have come here 197 days is a row, if the streak feature hadn't existed. I imagine it to be really difficult to keep studying regularly without that.

I know that that is one of these everyone-has-their-own-method-things but I'd still like to know which method you prefer and why.

The one who has the best arguments for going slowly through the tree gets 25 lingots and the one who has the best arguments for using the tree as a "Headstart" also gets 25 lingots! :)

May 27, 2015



I have more fun learning to use the language rather than learning it, if that makes sense. Watching shows, reading things, conversations, etc. are my preferred way of learning. So, when I have motivation to learn a language, I have to act on it, or I will drop it. This is why I go through courses quickly. I'll either come back immediately or later on to review and golden my tree once, then I will be done with it, on to real-life resources. Duolingo arms you with tools of survival, then you have to go out and thrive.

I tend to not use many learning sites after I finish a course, unless it's fairly comprehensive. Most of my energy is focused on bringing up my listening and conversational skills.


Wow Lexi, I have always wondered how you learn. Now I know, muwahahaha ..... :P

But seriously, you are amazing, and make me proud to be friends with you! :)

Thanks for sharing! :)


To be technical, that's the path I follow, but not how I learn. ;) That part is a lot more complicated...

Thank you, and you're welcome. :)


Hi! I like to go through my trees slowly, taking lots of time to review and learn, and often restart trees to test out once I feel I know the material. I use a few outside of Duolingo resources, and know some Latin, which helps with the Romance languages. I use a lot of immersion as a supplementary tool, and try to converse with Native speakers (also outside of Duolingo). I will say that the streak is a big motivator for me as well, it keeps me coming back here day after day after day.....well, you get the idea. ;) Anyway, thanks for posting this, it will be most interesting seeing other people's responses. I know I probably won't have a chance of winning, but it was fun to actually have to think about what I do for once. Good luck with you languages, and have a great day! :)


When I started I planned to use the FSI Basic Spanish as my main course and just supplement with Duolingo for about an hour a day but I got so addicted to Duolingo that I blew through it in a few weeks and didn't us FSI at all. Now that I'm done with the tree I'm going back and making it all gold, after that I plan on using this verb conjugation deck I bought for Brainscape and doing it for a month or two and then go back to FSI. All the while I will use Duolingo and keep the tree gold until I know all the lessons really well. Then after I'm satisfied with my Spanish it's on to the next language, and I'll probably start learning two at a time.


Well, when I did the Spanish tree, I finished it within a few days. I went that fast because I majored in Spanish in University and I was competing with one of my friends and I absolutely had to beat him. Since I majored in the language at school, I was thoroughly immersed. I read a lot of books for class (because I had a concentration in literature), I listened to a lot of native speakers, then I eventually started talk a lot in Spanish. I utilized YouTube to help me with my pronunciation and comprehension. I still watch a lot of YouTube in Spanish for informational purposes (I am into the latest and greatest tech, so I watch smart phone reviews in Spanish). Oh and I also have a Skype friend that I practice my Spanish with. Having a friend to practice with helps a lot!

I am moving slowly for French, Portuguese and Ukrainian and I am putting Norwegian on a hold for now.

For french, I do the tree. It is not particularly hard because of the similarities with English and Spanish. So I think in English and Spanish when I do French. I also watch YouTube videos to help with my pronunciation and watch children's shows in French (Franklin, and sesames street) for comprehension. I do not have a skype friend for french yet. Furthermore, I got some French text books and a novel from my University language department that I plan on utilizing.

For Portuguese, I am working almost exclusively with the tree here on Duolingo. I am doing Portuguese from Spanish because it is much easier that way. I do watch videos every now and then in Portuguese. But not that much. I also read a little in Portuguese.

For Ukrainian, I got a skype friend the day I started the course. He is helping me mostly with pronunciation and reading the Cyrillic text. I am improving a little bit everyday and we practice for about 2 hours a day. It is hard and fun at the same time. I am also reading comics in Ukrainian just for pronunciation and getting myself used to the text. I can't say that I understand what I am reading though. But baby steps lol. I also have a friend from college that is Ukrainian and we have been messaging each other everyday since I started learning. We talk about normal stuff in English (politics and such) and I ask her about stuff relating to Ukraine or Ukrainian every now and then.


Amazing post, knos 15! Can you share more? ... like, is your university degree the means of how you earn a living? (If this Q is too personal, I will understand, and I offer my apology.) In any case -- what an interesting post you did! Thank you.


I graduated about two weeks ago with a bachelor's of science in Biology and Spanish. I plan and going back to school for a masters in Spanish in a year or so. And I want to get a PhD in Biology sometime in the future. Currently, I am an assistant for a doctoral candidate working with the mixture of Limonese Creole (a dialect of Jamaican Creole, my native language) and Spanish in Limon, Costa Rica. However, I should be done with that project within the next two weeks. Therefore, I am looking for jobs relating to Biology or Spanish. I would enjoy working in either field because I love them so much!


Speechless here! You've given my neurons even more to cogitate! (Jamaican Creole for one) Again, thank you, and I wish you the very best as you progress in your fields of study.


That's really cool! And a fun combination too. :) Also i find it really cool that you want to continue with BOTH of your majors!


I belong to neither of these groups, actually. I work in spurts. After weeks of relative inactivity, I suddenly get all excited and go through a tree in less than a week. This hyperbolic phase usually passes after a week or two and then it is back to earning 10-100 xp per day. I had a phase like that when I finished the latter part of the Swedish tree in about a week. I procrastinated with the French tree for about a year without passing the second check point, until in a flurry of inspiration I suddenly finished it in a couple of days. The German tree took me a looong time, but once I started Immersion I all of a sudden just could not get enough of Duolingo and reached level 25 relatively quickly.

When I started DL a few years ago, it was to study Italian. Instead, I have done pretty much everything else it is possible to do in DL. In fact, I am still stuck in the upper part of the skill tree waiting for the divine inspiration. :)

As for my studies outside DL, I use some other sources online - mainly those provided by different universities. In addition, I really like having a good old-fashioned study book in my hands. I also usually purchase a dictionary. I am studying languages, because I want to be able to read books that I love in the languages they were written. This is why practicing speaking is not that important to me with the possible exception of Swedish. I do watch films in different languages and I can understand spoken Swedish and German to some extent. I was really happy during the Eurovision Song Contest, when I realised that I was able understand almost all of the Italian song's lyrics. But it still was not enough to inspire me to finish the tree. :(


I do neither. I tend to go as slowly on the stuff I know I'll need to do slowly. And I go quickly on the stuff that's easy, like the future tense in Spanish. And after the tree, I do some Immersion and Babadum, which is a really good website for learning vocabulary. Here's my review on it: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8727396


I go slow because my life is busy. 2 kids under 2 and a full time job. I cannot go fast, but a few minutes every day and I'm making progress without jeopardizing my marriage or job. Eventually I'll know something.


I took my time with the Italian tree, sometimes stopping for long streaks for various reasons. Once I got in the system of coming in every day(in the morning while having tea before going to work), I moved more quickly. I use just Duo for now, but I have an Italian grammar book I keep meaning to get started with. As for speaking, if I am lucky enough to get a customer at Barnes and Noble who speaks Italian I will try and switch the rest of the transaction into Italian. Today was one of those lucky days.

Now that I am done the tree and getting started on German, when I am here in the mornings I do a little bit of both languages. Still primarily focused on Duo. I am hoping that when I am at the beach in June I can practice with my extended family that speaks German (my cousin majored in German and married a German, so my second cousins(5 and 7) speak both English and German and it's super entertaining listening to them switch between the languages).

Eventually I plan to study more languages here. Anxiously awaiting for Polish. Might give Vietnamese a shot too. If those aren't out by the time I am done German (just got past the second check point and started a month ago), we'll see what language I decide to try out.


When I first encountered Duolingo, I decided to start learning Spanish. I went through the tree and lost interest when I reached level 8. Apart from the "fun factor", I saw no immediate real world application in learning more than basic Spanish. Since I speak French fluently and understand some Latin, I can already understand written Spanish and follow much of spoken Spanish. Duolingo allowed me to glimpse at the grammar and gain a bit more insight. Maybe I'll return to learning Spanish at a later time, though. :)

Then I met my wonderful Vietnamese fiancée. She speaks Dutch almost perfectly, so I just HAD to at least get a basic grasp of her language too. Unfortunately, the Vietnamese for English speakers was not even in the incubator yet at that time - but the English for Vietnamese speakers course was in beta. So I told Duolingo "tôi nói tiếng Việt và muốn học tiếng Anh" (I speak Vietnamese and want to learn English) and wrestled through the reverse course. It was quite a challenge! I used mostly Duolingo, going through the tree at what I guess is medium pace, stepping back often to re-enforce my skills. I also used a bit of memrise on the side, but Duolingo, even in "reverse course" is a lot better than any other app or site out there.

By the time I finished my English for Vietnamese Speakers tree, the Vietnamese for English Speakers course entered the hatchery and I'm impatiently waiting for it to come out in beta. Meanwhile, Norwegian has come into beta and since I have a Norwegian brother-in-law (my fiancée's sister is married to a Norwegian), I thought, why not learn Norwegian? :D There too, I'm using Duolingo as my main tool. In August we might go up to northern Norway (within the polar circle!) to visit him and I'd like to surprise him. :D


My approach so far has been to finish the tree relatively quickly while trying to keep previous lessons gold as I progress. Neither Spanish, nor French are new for me, and Duolingo is not a headstart for me in those languages. If you already know a language somewhat, you can test out of many of the skills. My goal is to use Duolingo to identify areas in which I am weak, and continue to focus on improving vocabulary and grammar, gender, spelling, accents, and avoiding careless mistakes.

Spaced repetition makes sense to me, and there is a lot of research to back that up. I don't feel that I need to have mastered a skill 100% before moving on to the next skill. There is a reason that Duolingo is trying to get more people to do more new lessons first, then strengthen later at spaced intervals, rather than repeating already done lessons immediately.

Pronunciation is not a concern for me in Spanish and French, but I do plan to focus on that when I do the Dutch tree in the future. Just once, I'd like to be able to say Leidseplein correctly.

How do you make sure you keep going? People are motivated in different ways. I very much enjoy words and learning languages. At the moment, my problem is not how to keep motivated, but how to prevent myself from doing too much. This is mostly because I've had some joint issues that can become problematic if I type too much for too long, but I also don't want to do so many trees at once that I lose focus and become overwhelmed. Boredom can be a problem if reviews seem too repetitious, but I've worked out different strategies to deal with that based partly on suggestions I've seen on the discussion board.

How do you go on after Duolingo? Finishing the tree is not the end. After the tree is gold, then I have gone back to repeat lessons, timed practice, or strengthening exercises. I've also started laddering FrenchSpanish and SpanishFrench. At some point I might also do the reverse trees. FrenchEnglish and SpanishEnglish. I'm also interested in Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, and to a lesser extent in Dutch, German, and Hungarian. So, that could keep me busy for quite a while on Duolingo.

Rather than after Duolingo, these are activities in addition to Duolingo: Speak Spanish with a native speaker a couple times per month Try to do some reading in Spanish and French (easy-ish stories, magazines, and so on) Check points of grammar that I seem to get consistently incorrect Watch movies/shows in French. Lately, I've been watching the French audio track on familiar movies and TV shows. I'm happy that Duolingo has already helped me understand what is being said better. *I'm considering taking a class in Spanish.

I would just feel kind of helpless after that, because, well, what's next? For many people, the structure of Duolingo and associated rewards are really important. Keep going on Duolingo for as long as you are learning something and enjoying yourself. After that, you could figure out how to challenge and reward yourself. If structure helps, you can try a class or tutor to keep you motivated.

Which websites are the most helpful? I've used Badamum a few times and liked it. Also, www.larousse.fr for french words with french definitions. They also have bilingual definitions too.


Thanks for that great comment! :D So, I think I'll try out moving through my tree quickly, too. You definitely deserve the 25 lingots! :)


I'm taking it slow and going through the tree, it's my 22nd day here and I haven't lost my streak yet and I don't want to. I use it in correlation with memrise, which is super helpful when I learn a word on there and I already know it when it pops up on here. I'm no where close to conversating with native Spanish speakers, but I can communicate a little and get my main point across. I still haven't finished it, probably won't for another month, but that's alright. I like taking it slow and learning through multiple platforms, reading, watching movies, writing my own sentences, etc. I consider myself at the preschool level, since I read a preschool level book in Spanish and completely understood it. I have yet to hit "kindergarten" with the Dr. Suess books I have but I'm close.


Thanks for the great insight. :) 25 lingots for you! :D


I go through one or two new lessons per day on both my German and Spanish tree. I do timed tests on any skills that aren't gold to help with revision. I usually start my day with reviewing some flashcards on Anki. I have one Spanish deck, and a bunch of different German ones. I also use memrise to help review the words I learn in Duolingo plus I do the basic courses in the two languages I am learning.


I am new to DuoLingo, and have many questions about how best to use it. I am amazed there does not seem to be any kind of "How to Use" instruction guide or FAQs. Is this true, or have I just not stumbled across these yet? Such an apparently powerful tool with no istructions for use beggars belief. I want to use the heck out of this, but have no idea what I'm missing that would help me learn my languages better. Can anyone help with this?


Would like to know where I can find instructions on exactly how to use the Duolingo website...what is a tree? Trying to learn Italian...

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