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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

Finished My Esperanto Tree! And Now Some Thoughts/Review-of-Sorts

I am very, very proud and excited to have finished my Esperanto tree! I joined the race to finish first, but I wasn't quite fast enough, so I let myself take it "slow" (er, slower) and took a bit more time to finish. But I've done it! And since I would feel a bit silly just announcing that I've finished and leave it at that, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the course and Esperanto itself here.

Thoughts on the Course

First of all, I loved the course. It's fantastic, and sooooo much thanks to the course creators for making it! It never would have occurred to me to try learning Esperanto, but by the end of the course, I was writing full sentences in a language I knew absolutely nothing about just a bit over a week ago! Incredible! I really, really, really appreciate all of the hard work that went into making this course, and I've already been encouraging others I know to join Duolingo and start learning!

In the interest of making sure the next tree version (as I believe the course contributors have said they're going to make) is as good as possible, I have some (hopefully constructive) feedback on things I think could be improved, based on my experience as a completely new learner:

  • The Numbers skill had some major headache sentences, like "one hundred two hundred three hundred four hundred five hundred six hundred seven hundred eight hundred nine hundred one thousand". It might be just me, but I don't find those very helpful, and I think the course would be better off without those sorts of sentences. They're not interesting, and when it's Esperanto to English, it's easy to just read one or two words and glide right past everything else. Shorter strings ("one hundred two hundred three hundred") are better, but using the numbers in a sentence is even better. I especially liked the maths, as it made it easier to figure out the numbers I hadn't yet learned based on context.
  • The previous note is also applicable to the occasional sentence or two in other skills as well, but I can't think of them off the top of my head. I'll try to take notes as I go back through again, since I won't be so focused on completing the tree.
  • There are a quite a few skills with a lot of lessons. When it's getting to the point that there are 9-10 lessons in a skill, I personally think it's just too much. The notes for these skills often have a multiple new grammatical concepts, so they could be broken up into two skills with fewer new concepts each. This would make it easier to focus on new concepts individually without needing to keep checking the notes during each lesson (as I did). It's also just nice to have that feeling of accomplishment for completing a skill. ;)
  • On a related note, correlatives are hard. Once you get them, they're easy, but I felt like the course could have done better at introducing them. We they first came up, there were multiple endings and multiple beginnings mixed together, so it wasn't obvious what was going on. I just tried to memorise the entire word without paying attention to the stems, but that didn't go so well and wasn't very helpful for my long-term acquisition of correlatives. Looking back at the tree, it seems like Questions was the skill which first introduced correlatives, and there are quite a few different grammatical concepts going on in that skill. There are three different correlative endings, two correlative beginnings, ĉu, and ĉi. As someone with no previous experience with Esperanto whatsoever, I struggled a lot with learning all those at once. I think this skill is an example of one that could be broken up into more than one skill, although with some lessons added, since there are only five right now. Also, introducing either multiple/all beginnings with only one ending or multiple/all endings with only one beginning (and no ĉu and ĉi) would make it easier for new learners to focus on the pieces making up correlatives rather than just trying to memorise without really understanding how they work.
  • The audio is missing on a lot of sentences. Sometimes, I'd go through a whole lesson with maybe only one sentence with audio at all. I think that's normal for courses with a recorded voice based on what the Ukrainian team posted after that course was released, but I hadn't seen it talked about anywhere in relation to Esperanto, so I thought I'd just mention it.

Thoughts on Esperanto

  • Esperanto is logical, but I don't think logic necessarily equates with ease. In comparison with other languages, I find myself thinking more about the rules than simply accepting an irregularity and going with it. In the long run, this probably makes it much easier, but it the beginning, it made me feel like I was doing maths problems rather than using a language. Not a criticism, just an observation. For new learners, I think it's helpful to note that it does start to feel less like maths and more like a language, so if that's discouraging you, just keep at it a bit longer, and it'll get easier!
  • There are times when Esperanto feels very unnatural, forced, or awkward. "Malseka," for example, meaning "wet" or more literally "opposite of dry." Mal- is just an odd prefix at times. I know the point is to limit how much needs to be memorised, but sometimes, I'd much rather just learn another word. Maybe I should just go back to confusing, irregular English. :P
  • Like I said, correlatives are hard—at first. I don't think I've quite mastered them at this point, mainly because I went through so quickly, but I can generally figure them out based on context. I expect though that with a bit more practice I'll forget I ever struggled with correlatives! :)
  • It could just be the voice (well, that and the use of Latin roots for much of the vocabulary), but Esperanto sounds much like Spanish or Italian to me. So much, in fact, that I kept translating words like "el" as "the" and writing in Esperañol at times. Makes me wonder if Esperanto is harder or easier for Spanish (and Italian) native speakers because of this.
  • Not conjugating verbs based on the subject is wonderful.
  • The way family words and such work confused me a lot. -ino feels more like a diminutive ending (perhaps because sounds like -ito), so "patrino" feels like it should mean "dad" or "daddy" or some such, not "mother." And then there's unklino. But there has been plenty of discussion on this already elsewhere, so let's not get into the gender politics of -ino. I just found it confusing and still have to stop and think about these words to figure out the right gender.
  • All that said, the language still is incredibly easy to learn. I can already read far more Esperanto than I could after a week of any other language. I'm not sure how well I could hold a conversation in it (might have to put that to the test, I suppose!), but I can definitely read a great deal of Esperanto text. My language-learning tradition is to read Harry Potter in my target language, so just after finishing the course, I looked up a PDF of the book in Esperanto and and started reading—easy! It's going to take some time for me to finish, of course, but it already seems much easier than Dutch has been, and I'm looking forward to learning some wizarding world vocabulary!
  • And as one last bonus note, I've found that the Esperanto community and culture is pretty cool so far! There doesn't seem to be a local group near enough to me to participate IRL, but I'm already checking out dates and locations for some of the bigger gatherings in hopes that I'll be able to make it to one in the future! And, of course, there is an extensive online community that I am only just beginning to get to know, so I'm looking forward to that.

All in all, a fantastic course for a fascinating and simple language, made by a wonderful team of hard-working volunteers (and some staff support)! Thank you so much for making this course and giving me and thousands of others the opportunity to learn this language and be introduced to the Esperanto culture! Dankon!

June 7, 2015

19 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/amuzulo

Awww... we'll definitely be taking these points into account and I made sure to pass a link to this to our team, so everyone can read it. Thanks so much for all the wonderful feedback!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

Thank YOU (all of you) for all of your hard work making the course! And I hope the feedback is helpful. :) I had a lot of fun with the course, and I'm looking forward to continuing to learn and even start having conversations in Esperanto!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

Congratulations!

I agree about the skills with 9-10 lessons btw. Those long skills down the bottom of my tree slowed me right down, not through being particularly hard, but just that it felt like every skill was soooo long and it made it seem harder somehow. Two shorter skills feels easier/less intimidating than one skill with ten.

I quite often ended up doing the skills in a given row piecemeal, because sitting down and doing ten lessons on similar topics felt quite deadly after a while.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

Thanks! And congrats, too!

Yeah, I felt a bit silly when I went to sleep last night with only two skills left—could have finished yesterday!—but they were 17 lessons total still. Really, anything longer than 5 lessons starts to look long to me, and by the time you hit 10 lessons it feels overwhelming. I guess I just don't have the stamina for so many lessons in one go! (Or, well, I guess I do, since I did finish.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

It's weird how much of a difference it makes. I guess it's a mental thing, and some people are okay with just powering through, but I got to those last few rows and gosh, it was hard work 8-o I couldn't say for sure, because I didn't keep track that carefully, but the last 4-5 rows I would say took me as long as the rest of the tree put together!

I think it was a combination of a lot of skills which seemed to have an above average number of lessons, tiredness (I don't know how people do the whole storm through the tree several times on the trot: I did Ukrainian the previous weekend, and halfway down EO my brain was protesting like crazy), and the people I was kinda-sorta competing with either finishing OR slowing down/stopping their progress down the EO tree.

I think mostly it was just psychological, but my brain just stopped cooperating at all, and those last few skills felt like they took forever. I am in awe of the people who seem to sit down practically every time a new tree comes out and power through the entire thing. Especially languages like Turkish 8-o man. Gimme Esperanto correlatives any day, I swear LOL I think probably the only other time I will possibly manage this kind of turnaround in finishing a tree will be Russian, and even then it'll be because I basically have a clue what I'm doing already.

I'm currently working my way down my EO tree and regilding everything, whilst being horribly aware that in the last couple of weeks I've basically been neglecting everything and my other trees are all looking decidedly sad. I am really looking forward to EO being added to the app so I can keep it up a bit more easily.

One thing I've found really fun and encouraging and just kind of awesome with EO is how many conversations I've seen in sentence discussions, including or even entirely between former non-speakers, taking place entirely in Esperanto. Chatting and joking even! How cool is that?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

I think I got burnt out about halfway through, personally, but I'd been in the middle of trying to sprint Ukrainian and Norwegian when Esperanto was released, so I was already pretty burnt out. (Plus, life outside of Duolingo is a major headache lately.) Other people finishing definitely took away some of my momentum too. I had renewed energy by the end of the tree, so I just pushed on through all those long skills.

I hope to become one of those people who power through every new tree though! I'm going to try with Russian, but based on how tough Ukrainian is for me, I suspect that one's going to be pretty tough--although I won't have the frustration of learning a new alphabet at least. And I still need to finish Norwegian and Ukrainian before that happens. My poor brain.

My Dutch tree (my primary language on here) is almost all un-gilded. I'd been so close to finally having it all gold, and then Ukrainian and Norwegian came out, and now the tree is looking very sad indeed. Gotta somehow keep up with that while working through the new languages--and turning Esperanto gold!

I agree about the discussions! It's very cool, and I've even made a few comments in Esperanto now, which is pretty incredible to me given how I knew absolutely no Esperanto before the course came out! It's a really easy language (comparatively) to just jump right in and start using, even when there's still lots more to learn. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

Sprinting two trees at the same time? 8-o YIKES. I would go mad. I did start the Norwegian tree between finishing Ukrainian and starting Esperanto, but I think I've done a total of, like, three skills?!? I do plan to continue with it, but I just don't have the "power through" thing down yet.

Even with Ukrainian, although I didn't actually know any of the language officially, Russian was kind of like having a cheat sheet. It was almost a relief to do UK because Turkish had been roundly kicking my butt for quite some time and I was starting to wonder if previous language successes were some kind of fluke lmao.

Two trees in, what, a fortnight ish? That was plenty for me; even given the fact that a couple of languages are coming up I am really looking forward to, I'm not sure I could even power through the Russian tree (a language which, in theory, I speak) till I've had at least a month of sanity. Even attempting three trees in that time :-o la cerbo doloras al mi! ;-)

If you need encouragement/a cheerleader when Russian appears, let me know. I 3 Slavic languages, and it all started with Russian 3 :D Удачи!

I'm really looking forward to these trees coming to the app. I don't know if it's just a psychological thing, but I swear it's easier to gild trees on the app.

Yes, Esperanto is so fun and so... forgiving? I also love that you can genuinely verbify or adjectivise (?!) practically anything, plus affixes all over the place, so even if you can't figure out one way of saying something, you can attack it from a different angle, even as a beginner. Comparing it to, say, Ukrainian, where despite my massive head start, I am still very limited in what I can say without going and looking stuff up.

I think so far my favourite conversations have been those involving film quotes, Dr Seuss, and the speculation about the bear's eating, drinking and working habits. The sentences were already pretty fun, the resulting conversations were even better!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aleksescomu

"you can attack it from a different angle, even as a beginner" like this? :D http://goo.gl/exMGBC


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

I will definitely take you up on that offer to cheerlead once Russian comes out because I'm definitely going to (try to) race, and I'm definitely going to struggle!

And it is definitely much easier to gild on the app. Most of my incorrect sentences are typos, but auto-correct and the tap-the-words exercises pretty much fix that, plus it's just faster to do those exercises instead of typing out full sentences on the computer. At this point, I think I'm even faster (and better) at typing in general on a phone compared to a computer. Too many fingers on computer keyboards--I can't make them move in the correct order! (Okay, so maybe that's just my own motor control issues, but you wouldn't believe the number of times I depty a word in a completely rdiew dorer. Autocorrect has my back msot of the time though.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rumnraisin

Congratulations on getting to the finish line!

I agree with a lot of what you've said, particularly about the difficulty of correlatives, and that sometimes it feels like you're solving a puzzle, and how easy it is to slip into Spanish.

Thanks for sharing your views with us all. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

Thanks! And congrats to you as well!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Albrechtion

Congrats! I just finished on Friday (although I was too lazy to write such a comprehensive review). I really enjoyed it, and I agree with you on a lot of what you said. Thankfully, I haven't had too many problems with "Esperañol"!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

Thanks and congrats to you too! I suspect planning out in my head what to put in this may have slowed me down a bit or else I might've finished a bit sooner, maybe Friday—or at least that's my excuse! ;) Certainly wasn't laziness on your part to just focus on finishing the tree though!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Svedalaren

Kie vi trovis Harry Potter en Esperanto? Mi volas leĝi ĝin =P


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

It's linked on the Esperanto wiki page, actually! Eksteraj ligiloj, first ligilo. It's a .doc file. This is a direct link that will immediately download onto your computer. I haven't tried opening it on a computer, so I can't vouch for it being a clean file. My mobile browser just lets me view it from my browser, since I can't otherwise open a .doc file on my mobile device.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JessePaedia

Congratulations! How many lessons did do a day to finish the tree?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thraenthraen

Thanks! I don't really know, except that I ranged between about 0-300XP over the past week according to that handy graph on the side. I hit level ten with 16 lessons to go, so I think there are 241 lessons ((2250XP plus 160XP) / 10XP per lesson). If I remember correctly, the course came out last Thursday, so that's 11 days, or around 22 lessons a day—although I had a couple days this past week where I didn't really go on Duolingo for some personal life reasons, so I did around 30 the past few days in order to finish.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bubuloj

If you're interested, I have been learning latin for c. a year now, and that definitely helped vocabulary-wise.

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