Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Pro-tip for learning any language here

Usagiboy7
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If the language you are learning has a mirror course that aims back towards your native language, take them both! Learn your language from that language and vice versa.

It will present a unique challenge that reinforces your vocabulary retention and translation skills.

Some folks say that they aren't getting enough opportunity in the lessons to translate from their native language to the language they are learning. The mirror courses reverse this trend!

I'm learning Spanish. I just went and changed my settings to learn English from Spanish and am now inching towards level 5. IT IS AWESOME!

For me, I waited until I finished the (first set of) past tense verb lessons in Spanish before doing this. This made the experience less overwhelming. (Object pronouns come up pretty quickly in Span > Eng even though they come up much later in Eng > Span. etc. So it gave me a good basis to start from without tossing me completely into the deep end with no hope.)

I tell you I'm so glad I tried this! I hope you will too. ^_^

PS My one suggestion to DL staff, would be to make it so we can see all of the courses from our home tab. When I change my settings to learn English from Spanish, I can no longer see the Spanish (or any other course) that I've been learning from English. It would be rad to see them all at the same time. ^_^ Thank you for letting me learn this language through both paths regardless!!

PPS Mind your streak though! Here is Olimo's thread about what to look out for when managing your streak while learning multiple languages. http://www.duolingo.com/comment/975138

If you liked this advice, click the up arrow to keep it near the top for others to find.

4 years ago

63 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ketoacidosis
ketoacidosis
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  • PS My one suggestion to DL staff, would be to make it so we can see all of the courses from our home tab. When I change my settings to learn English from Spanish, I can no longer see the Spanish (or any other course) that I've been learning from English. It would be rad to see them all at the same time. ^_^ Thank you for letting me learn this language through both paths regardless!!

^ This.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marialch

Yup. Please!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

+1

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iign
iign
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+1000! I was about to send the DL team some feedback about that, It would be really good.

In my case, my mother tongue is Spanish, but I wanted to learn German, so my only choice was German for English speakers. I don't mind that, but I'd like to practice my English as well, so I'd like to take English for Spanish users.

Maybe we can post this as a separate issue to make it more relevant.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/8pellbound

My friend is having your exact issue - Spanish speaker trying to learn German. Most frustratingly is the option on the login page to change the language, which makes you think you have found what you seek, only to realise it only changes the text on the login screen The rest is in English

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Are you saying that you want German for Spanish speakers? If you know someone who is fluent in both, they can help create a course for that through the incubator. http://incubator.duolingo.com/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iign
iign
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Well, originally it would've been my first choice, but I'm quite fluent in English so I don't mind learning German "from English". What I wanted to remark is the need for a unified home menu, where I could see:

Learning German for English speakers

Learning X for English speakers

but also:

Learning English for Spanish speakers.

so, basically:

Learning Y for Z speakers all in the home menu.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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agreed

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pdquinn1
pdquinn1
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This is what we need. The ability to choose the lesson direction of any given language without manipulating the settings to do so and regardless of what our native language is.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ckyle8
ckyle8
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Absolutely! The format is already present when you check out other people's learning trees, it's just a matter of incorporating it into our home page.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ebrill_April

Good idea. I'm personally waiting for the course, "English for German speakers" to be released in Beta here. :D

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_undertoad

This thread must point to problems with the didactic material presented (from source to target language). There could be no other reason for it. If anyone is looking for a better way to improve language skill, it is not by doing what this user suggests. In fact, I'd say that it was a foolish waste of time. It is best to read, read, READ. Krashen suggests that free, un-guided, reading is, hands down, the fastest and best route to proficiency in a foreign language. Don't learn English from Spanish. Read Borges or Bolaño or Cervantes or Quiroga or Guevara or Márquez or... God, how long is the list? There's Lorca and Neruda and Jiménez for poetry. Why limit yourselves to what you could learn from this site? I guarantee you that it won't be enough. Time you spend translating in immersion is a better learning experience. I'm sorry. Down vote me all you want. This is stupid.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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waves hey neighbor (re: portland) ^_^ (Neruda? You have good tastes.)

I don't disagree that going beyond the website is a great way to expand on skills people are gaining here. That is a great added bit of advice!

For instance, I also love Neruda's poetry and hope that more people will come to appreciate it too! (And I would even add to the list, for fandom folks, I highly recommend fanfiction.net because of it's database of fanfiction across multiple languages. :D)

So, I don't think that my post contradicts the spirit of what you are trying to encourage folks to do, which is not to limit ourselves to just this website. If people are here, it is because this format (not necessarily this format exclusively) appeals to their learning styles.

While I didn't include that in my particular post, because it was beyond the context I was writing for, in another way my suggestion is for people to do exactly what you are doing here in this place, which is to use this website (albeit in ways that some folks might not have considered.) to gain skills.

Certainly though, I agree in that this website does not have to be the only way we learn languages ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_undertoad

And howdy to you, too! Sorry for the late response. Going beyond this website is not just a great way to expand on language skills, I'd argue that it's the only thing that you should do once you've worked through your language tree (with the exception, of course, of doing translation, timed exercises, skill strengthening, etc.). I'm glad to see that you're a bibliophile, too. I'd be happy to take any reading recommendations that you might have. There aren't enough practice exercises or learning units offered here. I get it. Believe me. I want more of what's already here, too, but it's a problem that you're trying to solve by doing everything backwards (IMO).

Here are some reasons why I think so:

1.) I believe that this sort of activity is not in the best interest of those who have developed this site. The idea is pretty simple: Step 1: teach people a language for free. Step 2: Try your best to motivate people to translate text from the language they are learning into the language that they are NATIVE in and thereby TRANSLATE THE WEB. If the powers that be felt that it was in their best interest to encourage users to translate from or into either their native language or their L2 or L3 then I'm sure they'd just let you flip from one direction to the other in the immersion section. I don't see that this is an available option at this point I imagine that someone somewhere has their reasons. My guess is that they'd prefer that users translate source text into the language they are most familiar with.

2.) What you're getting out of doing what you're doing, you can get elsewhere... and what you'll get will be way less annoying and way higher quality. How are you learning anything about Spanish by transcribing an English-speaking robot voice? (I'm guessing you're doing a lot of that.) Seems silly to me, but... whatever floats your boat. Why not just use lang8 or a networking site to get a pen-pal or find somebody to chat with via Skype or verbling? Or, like I suggested above, pick up a book. Mavry has some really good comments below. It's not like you have to take on a lot of heavy reading. The advice you'll see everywhere (if you look) is: read whatever it is that interests you. Go out into the world and find yourself some comprehensible input.

3.) I totally get the idea behind "laddering" and I understand why someone would want to learn Arabic from German or Russian from Spanish, for example. That'd be pretty cool, if it were available. The hope being that one would strengthen both languages at the same time. BUT I really don't think that's wise, using this site. I won't do it, even when it does become an option. I have noticed (in each of the language trees that I'm working on) that what is considered a "Correct" English translation is often a clunky machine translation that should absolutely not be held up as a shining example of proper English sentence structure or syntax. Not 2 hours ago I came across the following in the Economics unit in the French tree: "I would like to know how much money is on my account." The 'on my account' part is an incorrect and overly literal translation of "sur mon compte." No one, excepting those who don't speak English very well, would actually say this. I can only imagine that the same is true of every other language course that has been or will be developed here. Why would you want to learn from bad examples? How can you be sure that the "Other Right Answer" that duo gives you after you pump in your own translation is actually proper Spanish... or, just some kind of weird machine-translated Spanglish? It's fine for folks who are native to look at a machine translation and say "Well, nobody would ever actually say it that way in English... but I get that this is the way it should be said in X" Are you sure you'll be able to make that judgement call every time?

Okay. That's it for me on the subject. Sorry if I ruffled your feathers.

Cheers!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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You have some very good points! And, I hope that you reported that sentence (Egads!) At this time, I am enjoying going from Spanish to English. It is offering me a few more differences than I expected and in a structure I like. I do not acquire languages quickly. It is called a world learning style. I require a lot of little pieces before i can see the image of the puzzle, instead of making a lot of little intuitive leaps. It means that It takes me longer on the front end (much longer) than most people, but if I can stick it through, I make huge leaps on the tail end (if I don't give up). At a certain point along the way, I will need to switch tactics, much as you have suggested.

Re: Bibliophile: I am only familiar through Naruda through my former partner of 4 years who would bring me the poems that they love. :) Otherwise I mostly read books on sociology, human communication, gender studies, science fiction, and fantasy. So, I would rather ask you for a recommendation. Is there anything you are currently reading in Spanish and enjoying very much?

Oh! I just thought of something! Have you heard of José Seramago? While José's original work is likely in Portuguese, it has been translated into many different languages. I would suggest reading "Blindness". In fact now I am going to look around and see if I can't get a copy of it in Spanish. Thank you for inspiring this little book search! ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/_undertoad

Jose Seramágo is a name I haven't come across before. Thanks for the recommendation! I will certainly check out his stuff. I understand if you're set on continuing to study in the way that you're comfortable with. I wish you the best of luck & hope that you'll watch out for bad Spanish in those example sentences.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Thanks! Yeah, I've encountered just a couple of rough spots. When something looks funny, I cross reference with wordreference.com and google.translate.com :) Blindness is my favorite of Seramago's books. It moves seemlessly between the points of perspective without using quotes. I wasn't as into their other books though. Those other books, while very interesting in places, felt like they were written with a specific moral and/or philosophical point, with a lot of words used as padding to fill them out. Not material I would read a second time. (I most appreciate books that I can read more than once. ^_^)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
jfGor
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There are others doing this because there is not enough English to Spanish excercises.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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In Spanish, I am also encountering word substitutions. I have not run into the word "Chico" in Eng>Span. Only Nin~o. Chico appears several times in Span>Eng. Also, I get some sentences that I just never ran into. So, the extra variety works for me as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marialch

You know the difference right? Niño is younger than chico. Niño (unless used like an endearment) means an enfant, while chico means an adolescent or young adult (and by extension, since recognizing you've gone old is hard ;-), just somebody your age or lower... My aunts -60- would talk about "una chica joven" about somebody 40 yr old...)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I'm sorry I just saw this here! I didn't know that. So, I'm very glad you pointed it out. Thank you! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buffalump21
buffalump21
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That's a bit rude isn't it - calling someone stupid just because you don't agree with them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/8pellbound

I have a few thoughts on this.

Parts of the post were clumsy. Some of the language chosen (of which, "stupid" is an example), was careless and meaningless (after all, stupid means nothing in the context it was used - it was a poor choice of word).

The tone of the post is extreme - there is right and wrong/success and failure, and nothing in between. There are orders, but not ideas, so it polarises readers instead of uniting us.

If we appreciate the gift of language and language learning, we should use accurate words to reflect our ideas and opinions. If we care about being fair and clear, we should use accurate words to explain to each other why we disagree.

However...

Reflecting on the whole post, UT is obviously trying to offer help, and that's a great thing to be encouraged.

I disagree with UT's post being misrepresented by you (person is stupid vs idea is stupid - very different), and would ask you to consider making an apology. You accused UT of something they did not do. UT explained their comment, and explained that you had misrepresented them. As I typed above, the language was clumsy, but the overall post and subsequent explanation show the intention was to help, not hinder.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vedun
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That's what Im going to use to learn foreign languages when English for any language comes out.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buffalump21
buffalump21
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I recently started doing this too, but for French... It's good to read some of the comments that native French speakers leave ... also good to know they have as many problems learning English as we do French but also great to realise that I can actually read and understand their comments as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sruthi_Ranjani

Yes it feels great when you actually find out that you can read their comments and sometimes I reply to them in French too!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TTANTAWY
TTANTAWY
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I changed it and then I thought I lost all my previous data, so I changed it back. I had a mini-heart attack and felt so stupid. :P

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I did that too! Thankfully, I had a little hope because I previously I had asked what would get my tree reset and people were saying that you have to be specific and select an option for resetting the tree or it won't happen. I was still relieved to find that my tree was ok when I switched back.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf
Sitesurf
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It works fine if you have already reached a decent level of understanding and writing in your 2nd (or 3rd...) language, because as you point out, comments will be posted in the language you are learning and you will therefore have to work hard to phrase questions and comments and understand others'.

The good thing is that some prolific chatterers will be forced to synthetic and focused comments.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
wataya
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Unfortunately, there are as many prolific native Spanish chatterers there as we have English ones here :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Party_wolves9182

I will do that, thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/micheleski

I have often thought about doing this also but I was afraid of losing my history. Does it retain it for you when you switch back?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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your points and badges/levels will still be there :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ElFFELTOWER

I agree with my bro ;)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xyde
Xyde
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I'm glad to find out that I wasn't the only one doing this. Well I did it because hearing the same vocal lessons all the time gave me a headache and needed a breath of air. My only wish is that for the Incubator, there would be more mirroring to come. eg You've learnt English, Spanish and French. You've finished with English <-> French and English <-> Spanish. Things could only get more awesome from now on with French <-> Spanish. Hooray for versatility!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ebish411

Interesting. I might try that out.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/espomama
espomama
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Interesting. I will try it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/espomama
espomama
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Just took the first test. The English speaker sounds funny to me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I agree. Sometimes I was like "Wait, what did you say?" I think it is because it's computerized, the inflections are a little off as are the length of sounds sometimes. Like the word "an" caught me off guard recently. It was the most clipped, quick "an" that I almost missed it! Though... I'm still shocked we can do these things. I still remember ten cent payphones, beepers, and learning to type on a screen with a black background with green text bahaha!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/marialch

Good to know! My english is decent, but I gave a try to the english course anyway (jumping to the last lock-thingy). And I was shocked to see that I needed to repeate some of the sentences in "slow", when I never have any problems in real life. EDIT - I am curious to see how the spanish speaker sounds now...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/espomama
espomama
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You're right, it's definitely because it's computerized. I had to replay one of the English clips, and I'm a native speaker! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Leonjbrm

Great idea Usagiboy.. I am also learning Spanish.. I might try this out.. In theory it sounds good..

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ddesgagne
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Thanks for suggesting this! I've been toying with this idea for a while but haven't actually used it yet. Now I think I'm going to try it out. :) Definitely a good idea, no matter what language people are learning.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/levubachduong

good idea. thank you

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pdquinn1
pdquinn1
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I considered doing this a couple of times but I was concerned what messing with my settings would do to my history of German courses already taken. If it's working for you, perhaps I'll try this.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I was able to change all of my settings back to normal after I tried it. However, once I switched from EngSpan to SpanEng, I wasn't able to see the languages I was previously learning. Once I switched back, everything was back to normal, all of my scores, languages, stream, etc. Do mind your streak though. I put a link at the top about that ^_^

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Party_wolves9182

its a good thing u can change your settings back, if I lost my progress I would die

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FrankySka
FrankySka
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Hey Usagiboy7 - I just tried the Spanish to English tree (finally). Do you know whether, if I do not practice that tree, I will lose my English to X streaks? I know that I will loose my overall streak (at least on the phone) if I only practice e.g. English to French but not English to Spanish. So I was wondering: do I also loose it when I do not practice Spanish to English, or are the overall streaks separate for the separate language settings? Just wondering whether you might know, because you seem to have played around with it. Also - I was able to reset my Spanish to English tree after doing some lessons, but not to delete the language. Is that maybe because it is the only language in those settings, or is there a trick for doing this? Sorry for asking all these questions :). Hope you do not mind!

Thanks Franky

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Olimo has posted some good discussions on this. I think this was the one I was looking for: http://www.duolingo.com/comment/963408 or this one http://www.duolingo.com/comment/975138 they both have information about streak.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheGandalf
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Buona idea! Dovrei imparare del'inglese. ;)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DocMcHurr

i'm doing spanish too :C but im struggling

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zebracmz

i am the same with you. But there isn't Chinese. Resort to English

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/harryclark17
harryclark17Plus
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plus it really helps out foreigners with questions

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LimitlessT

Gave it a try, not that effective to be honest, at least not in my opinion. Each to their own.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Paulx589

I am waiting for German to French, or vise virsa, to help me learn both those languages even more!:)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sbartelt

Thanks for the good suggestions here. I'm trying to get back to the German of my childhood and I'm happy for a fairly decent app, and hoping to travel soon, too. I find that watching German films is also helpful, but you're right, reading is awesome.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sruthi_Ranjani

Yes,I tried the same..learning English from French..and it does work out to some extent.Nevertheless, I prefer learning French from English because when you come across some words that you are not acquainted to then it becomes a problem and you lose your hearts..(even after some guess work)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/buffalump21
buffalump21
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Yes, I know what you mean. I've finished the tree now though so I just see it as an extra "tool" in my French learning "toolkit".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jfGor
jfGor
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I am doing the Spanish tree and have a way to go. But, I have thought I would do the learn English through Spanish. I do use outside resoures now. A lot of native speakers of Spanish are doing Spanish through English. It is not a new concept to me, as I have been hearing about it for the last 6 months.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piurubato

Another feature that would be great when following this strategy is to be able to disable the dictations. That is, if I'm a native English speaker taking the English for Italians course as a way to get more practice translating from English to Italian, I don't need to be taking the dictation of English sentences.

Unless there is already a way to do this?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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You can go to your settings and turn off auto-voice. It will still appear for the listening only exercises. There might be an option I haven't discovered for folks who can speak while also being hard of hearing. (A friend of mine who is, is learning Japanese elsewhere.)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piurubato

Turning off auto-voice didn't disable dictations for me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xiuhtecuhtli
Xiuhtecuhtli
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You have to turn off the speaker, not voice autoplay.

4 years ago