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https://www.duolingo.com/sharksinthesalsa

Some insights after two months of learning

Hey guys, I would love to read your insights and personal experiences about something that I have noticed so please bear with me because it's probably gonna be a long post ;) Before I started using duolingo I've read a lot of reviews and threads on the website itself and they almost demotivated me. A lot of people were saying that you have to lower your expectations a lot and that even after finishing the tree you will have a very basic understanding of the language. I thought that maybe this method isn't that effective after all, but I didn't really know where else to start and since I unexpectedly moved to Sweden and really had to start learning the language I decided to give it a try. Now I'm almost at the third checkpoint and already I couldn't disagree with these opinions more. I've been learning for 58 days straight and I'm on level 13. I thought that it is a really fast pace but apparently some people finish the entire tree in weeks (?!). Other than that I sometimes use Swedish grammar book and Memrise, I try to think in Swedish since day one of duolingo experience (which is really exhausting). Also a few days ago I started speaking Swedish to my boyfriend whenever my limited knowledge allows me to and started re-watching Supernatural with Swedish subtitles (because I have seen this show before I can really focus on subtitles without losing the plot). I am honestly amazed by the progress I've made and I'm absolutely positive that after finishing the tree I will have enough tools to start working on my language skills in everyday situations - something I didn't even dream of after reading the reviews that I mentioned before. Also, I have to point out that I don't really believe that my life in Sweden affected my learning speed, at least not until now that I actually try to use it. I've heard some opinions that moving abroad will somehow magically make you speak the language. When I first got here I was intimidated because Swedish sounded like gibberish to me and people quickly started to speak english in my presence. I may have picked up a couple of food related words while shopping but that's it. This of course will change now that I'm starting to actually use the language. So I think that a lot of people have really high expectations and maybe want to start speaking the language fluently after finishing the tree? Also I guess that it's different when you're learning another language, perhaps more difficult than Swedish. So is there anyone who finished the tree and doesn't feel like their knowledge is really basic and limited? Do you think that what you know is enough to start learning Swedish the fun way (by reading, talking to people etc.)?

3 years ago

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/magicafan
magicafan
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I finished the tree, and I think my knowledge is good. I've started learning Swedish the fun way for a while now, and I talk to my Swedish friend a lot and talk to Swedes on Omegle in Swedish. I think Duolingo is really awesome! I learned a lot of the language. Half a year ago I knew nothing in Swedish, now I can have conversations! No deep, thought-out conversations, but still. Also, I've been learning French in school for 4 years, and I've been learning Swedish on Duolingo for almost 7 months now. I can say I speak and know Swedish MUCH better than French. I use Swedish online all the time, and I immerse myself in it a lot. My listening skills are not so great, but I'm working on it. But if I never discovered Duolingo or didn't use it, I wouldn't be where I am today. Good luck on your learning journey! Btw I wish I could visit Sweden! xD

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sharksinthesalsa

Thank you for your reply! It is so good to hear that duolingo allowed you to do all these things that you mentioned. I am looking forward to doing that myself as well. And if you ever have a chance I would recommend visiting Sweden a lot - I went here on a trip and decided to stay for good ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Coreopsis2943

I had been working on Swedish off and on for several years (grammar books, Book2Book, Rosetta Stone, listening to Klartext, etc.) because I really want to travel to Sweden, but I didn't feel like I was really getting anywhere. Although I am around Swedish musicians several times a year, they speak English, and I don't have any actual Swedes to talk to. But duo lingo helped enormously. I have a much much larger vocabulary than I did before, and now when I listen to Klartext I actually know a whole lot more about what they're talking about (before, I usually could tell what they were talking about--ie, like the general broad topic--but not what they were saying about what they were talking about.). But actual vocabulary is key, and duolingo helped so much with that--and also with hearing it.

We were traveling in Mexico this spring, and I realized that ALL of the conversations (shopping, ordering food, commenting on something, asking directions) that I struggled so mightily with, I could have easily done in Swedish. In fact, I had a Swedish commentary running through my head pretty much the whole time (both languages get lumped into the "foreign language" bucket in my head), something which I try to do in my ordinary life--run my interior dialogue in Swedish. It's slow, but those words and phrases become part of my psyche, so hopefully I can use them in actual conversation.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sharksinthesalsa

Wow, I find it quite amazing that you were able to think in Swedish while speaking another foreign language! I try to run an interior dialogue in Swedish as often as I can, but, as I mentioned, I find it quite exhausting- it's an exercise. But then, a powerful one, I believe. But if I was to try to speak one foreign language and think in another I would probably give up ;) Also, I agree that now that I started speaking Swedish to my boyfriend, it does help a lot. For example, you simply won't learn pronunciation without speaking and before that all my knowledge was only in my head and I didn't even know if I can actually say what I know out loud. I just wanted to give duolingo credit for all I've learned before that because honestly, my exposure to Swedish was minimal until now. Everyone spoke english when I was around, we don't watch tv so no swedish there, the only full sentences I ever heard in swedish was from cashiers at stores before switching to english ;) By the way, it's interesting how much one can isolate themselves from the language if they are anxious about using it. I suppose that's why some immigrants don't speak Swedish even after years of living here.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Coreopsis2943

I didn't really think of it as "thinking in one foreign language while speaking another foreign language" at all. It was more like I had two parts of my language brain, the English part and the foreign language part, which is both Spanish (which I studied a million years ago in school and which I've heard LOTS) and Swedish (which I have been studying much more actively much more recently). I have to THINK really hard to produce one rather than the other. If I just say what I'm thinking in the "foreign language" part of my brain, it's much more likely to come out Swedish these days (though the Spanish is much more deeply ingrained).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rach_jules
rach_jules
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I'm very impressed that you're pretty much at the 3rd checkpoint after 58 days! I'm only just past it now (I got there ~ day 133). Do you feel that you're picking it all up, or are you forgetting a lot? Based on your level I'm assuming you've been doing a lot of practice :D

I haven't finished the tree, but I agree with you that it is all about expectations. I'm not sure exactly what to expect my abilities to be when I finish the tree, but in all honesty I'm proud of how much I've already learnt - I know far more Swedish than I know Italian (1st duo language attempt, also level 12, couldn't get past verbs 1), Spanish (6 years at school), Polish (attempted to learn it from my best friend), or German (okay... so that was a good 14 years ago in my first couple of years of school).

I've been able to converse a bit with Swedes online (with some help from google translate) and I'm getting better at reading articles on 8 sidor (yesterday I read an article where I only needed to look up 3 words!).

I hope and expect that my skills will improve as I get closer to finishing the tree, but I don't expect it to make me fluent: I expect it to make these other activities I have been doing easier, giving me a broader knowledge base, and hopefully decreasing my dependence on google translate. I expect it to give me a solid foundation of language that I can use (if not particularly well), allowing me to use other resources and heaps of practice to build it up from there.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sharksinthesalsa

I feel like I have to hurry because I don't really fancy living in Sweden without the knowledge of Swedish language. I know that many immigrants (especially living in Stockholm or anywhere in southern Sweden) don't even bother learning the language and I just cannot imagine that. I live in a small town is northern Sweden and although most people speak english here too I don't like the idea that they are forced to speak to me in a language other than their native.

So yeah, I am moving quite fast but I find this pace perfect for me. I have to say that I still don't know some words from previous lessons. Sometimes I even move on to another section while remembering around 50% of the previous one. I just cannot focus on sitting with flashcards and trying to remember words, doing the same exercises over and over again gets too boring so I don't learn anything new either. But when I move on to another section and then come back to previous ones I notice that I've learned most of the words from previous sections. Some of them appear later in random sentences, some of them appear in the subtitled show I am watching. Example: for some reason I couldn't seem to remember most words from determiners section. You know sometimes they just won't stick in your mind. So I moved on to numbers, then spent two evenings binge watching the show. Now that I come back to determiners I pretty much know all the words. I guess they are used often and after seeing them over and over in subtitles I now remember them :) So there was no point in sticking to this section and trying to force myself to remember the words :) But then, everyone has a different pace and system so I don't suppose that this would work for everyone.

It's good to see your expectations and that you believe that duolingo will meet them, as mine are pretty much the same :) Good luck with the rest of the tree and if you ever decide to learn Polish again and need a language partner- I am a native ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Snapdragonfly
Snapdragonfly
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Swedish was (almost) the first language I started with when I first discovered Duolingo, and I couldn't decide at first whether I wanted to take the whole tree very slowly, repeating each lesson until I felt I had it down forward and backward, or whether I wanted to run through the whole tree as quickly as possible and then go back and repeat; I ended up deciding on the latter approach about halfway through the tree because I like being able to go to the grammar points that I need or that interest me at any given time. So, while I have moved through the whole tree, I still feel like this course has a lot to teach me because I am still going back through each lesson and repeating it as many times as I need to feel comfortable with the material, especially now that there are pronunciation exercises (my pronunciation is bad. I mean, spectacularly bad.). I also use Memrise and listen to Swedish radio stations on TuneIn radio on my phone, but I feel like I am learning a lot from Duolingo and I'm not even close to being finished with this course, even if I have technically gone through the whole tree. I also feel like once I have reached the point where I am totally comfortable with everything in the course, I will have been given all the basic building blocks I need to continue with my study.

As an afterthought, a possible response to the criticisms you have heard might be that people are just going through the tree once just to finish it, and maybe not taking the time they need to really absorb the material?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sharksinthesalsa

I absolutely agree with your approach, I am looking forward to more grammar lessons as I believe that even with limited vocabulary I'll be able to use the language a lot more when I know something else than a present tense. Using new language in early stages is very much like a puzzle game so I find myself being able to say what I have in mind using whatever vocabulary I know, pretty often. But I suppose that more grammar will open the whole new world of possibilities. And pronunciation...mine is spectacularly bad also. I guess that being too shy to actually speak the language from the beginning didn't help either. Now that I do speak people say that I sound OK, but then I hear the natives and I know that I'm nowhere near close. But it takes practice I guess. Good luck with strengthening your skills :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Snapdragonfly
Snapdragonfly
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It's frustrating, isn't it, the pronunciation? I can hear quite well what I should sound like, but then I just can't bring myself to produce those sounds. I don't remember having this much trouble with German pronunciation, but that was seven-ish years ago, so maybe I'm just remembering it as being easier than it actually was. Oh well, good luck to you as well. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KyledelPue
KyledelPue
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No. I know very basic Swedish (it's a smidge higher than my Turkish at around 5 words more maybe).

It probably depends with what language you're using. With most of Duolingo's courses, I can see being able to hold a conversation and use the language in daily situations. I set up a test one time. I had a pretty bad Chinese teacher teach me for a month and I started Duolingo's Spanish course at the same time and took it for a month (and I still am). I had a year of Chinese before that. So the results were that I learned a ridiculously large amount in Spanish compared to Chinese where I believe my knowledge either crept up, stayed the same, or was just flat.

In short, 2 months of Spanish=pseudo-understand the main idea of a newspaper article. And 2 years of Chinese=struggling to read a restaurant menu.

Jag alskar Svenska!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sharksinthesalsa

Oh I get it, I used to learn German at school for 3 years and now I already know more Swedish than German. But would you say that Spanish course is better than Swedish or you focused on Spanish more? Still, great to see that you found duolingo helpful.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Coreopsis2943

I would imagine that speaking Swedish to your boyfriend, no matter how rudimentarily, really really helps solidify things. You have a real pressing purpose for speaking the language. It's not an abstraction. You are also surrounded by it every day, so the sound of it will get in your brain much faster.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TimothyAspeslagh

Don't look at people finishing the tree in weeks, most of them regret it. Move at your own pace. Learning a language consists of rehearsing what you know every day before learning something new.

3 years ago