Here’s a list of what I do that really helps me learn the language using Duolingo; it’s extra work than the app gives you, but it helps me get my answers right most of the time and I feel like I know the language much better than I would have normally.
Completing the tree
- The first thing you should do is complete the tree! Most people think they stop using Duolingo after that - this is absolutely not the stopping point! There’s a reason I listed this as step one.
- To complete the tree, set a goal for yourself. One lesson per day, one unit per week, etc. Experiment a little and find one that works for you.
- The XP feature on Duolingo helps me stay on track by measuring my frequency, not my learning. Use this to make you motivated to start each day, but don’t use it as a measure of how well you’re doing. It’s like a homework grade that gives points for completion but not accuracy. But, because of this, you can choose any goal you want. I’m on the “insane” goal (50pts per day) but I often go way past the limit. Trust me, if you’re following these steps, that won’t be a problem.
- THIS IS AN IMPORTANT RULE!!!! Before ever starting a new lesson, all of your previous lessons must be golden.
- Duolingo builds off of previous skills in a fairly linear way. You’ll notice especially as you get farther in the tree that whenever you learn new nouns, they will always be practiced in the context of the most recent verb tense you’ve learned, and they will always mix up adjectives and phrases that you’ve also recently learned. Because of this, if you’re even a little shaky on a previous lesson, you’re screwing yourself over if you don’t review that first.
- When you first open Duolingo, use “Practice Weak Skills” - this will give you a random lesson to run through and practice, and often it will mix multiple to allow you to strengthen multiple skills at once.
- Keep using “Practice Weak Skills” until every lesson is golden. This takes about 3-4 times if you get most of the questions right, 5-6 if you’re getting most of them wrong - and it will get you past your XP goal. When you’re done, scroll through to check that every lesson is golden. Feels nice, don’t it?
- Your lesson strength deteriorates quickly. It often feels like you’re taking one step forwards and two steps back. This is the case for a short while - the more you practice, the longer your skills will stick there. When you need to strengthen them again, all you have to do is prove that you know it from before. Instead of 15 questions on the same lesson, you’ll get about 3 - if you get all of them right, the skill goes straight back up to golden!
- If you are having trouble with a certain lesson, maybe you find yourself constantly tripping up on it? Practice these lessons individually.
- I constantly mess up on verbs, and now that I’ve finished the tree, whenever I review it mixes up to 4 tenses at once. What happens then? I get mixed up.
- Personally, I rushed through the tree when I shouldn’t have. Whoops.
- Because of this, I review each verb lesson on its own before using “Practice Weak Skills.”
- When I feel confident enough, the next day I might test myself using “Practice Weak Skills” and see how it turns out. It’s your personal judgement call on when you should stop isolating lessons!
So, if you’re anything like me, you love learning languages. If you’re even more like me, you have a preference for doing it, and it is not memorizing vocab (though this is necessary!). Duolingo is nice for vocab and grammar….practice. To practice, you have to learn it first, right? It teaches you the vocab well, but there’s one huge problem I found while finishing up my Spanish tree:
The farther you get, the less grammar lessons there are.
This is crucial! How am I supposed to know what’s going one with he/habia/habias when I don’t even know what the tense is?
So, I prepared a list of grammar resources/courses that I think do a good job of walking you through, step-by-step, the lessons in a similar order to Duolingo.
My recommendation for using these requires looking ahead. Look at your next Duolingo lesson and, before taking it, look at the corresponding lesson on one of these websites. Take notes on it! Go back to Duolingo and now that you actually know what you’re doing. (If you get things consistently wrong, you can then review the grammar lesson on whatever website - in case they’re out of order). These apply to any website or program other than Duolingo, especially self-teaching, since they’re all basic grammar lessons.
The ones I’ve listed are mainly Spanish and German; these are the languages I’m studying. I can’t speak on other websites and their ease/comprehensiveness if I’m not studying that language! Please feel free to edit this post and add your own websites/languages when you reblog.
- StudySpanish.com (This is my personal favourite! Separated into units that progress from basic to advanced.)
- SpanishDict.com (good for referencing what you got wrong. Organizes by subject of lesson rather than easy-hard)
- Bowdoin (Another one that goes through basic-advanced. Has lessons written in Spanish and exercises to practice! Also has more information than most of these other links, however this can be confusing and that’s why it’s not my favourite.)
- German-Grammar.de (Has a TON of information and exercises; can be hard to navigate.)
- Dartmouth Review (A little chart to separate very broad categories; once you pick a section, it goes on for a while.)
- Deutsch Lingolia (Left column has a list; the top part is the important tenses, nouns, etc. grammar stuff.)
- ielanguages (Contains French, Spanish, ESL, Italian, German, Swedish, and Dutch, with a little information about various non-European languages.)
- Rocket Languages (Another good reference. Ads pop up, but you don’t need to pay in order to read the free coursework. On each of these pages there should be a blue column on the right listing grammar lessons. Good luck!)