Wednesday, 25 January 2017

8 Months of Duolingo

My previous Duolingo posts:
May 20, 2016 – On Learning Languages
June 26, 2016 – Buenos Dias
August 27, 2016 – 100 Days

If anyone is wondering – but mostly for my own memory, further down the line! – here is an update on my progress with the language app Duolingo.

Flag of Spain

Spanish: I first heard of the Duolingo app in May 2016, got curious, and decided to try a little Spanish. Six weeks later, I had worked my way through all the basic exercises on offer (on the phone app), and was graded by the app as being on Level 14 and “37% fluent”.

Since then, I have kept up almost daily “strengthening” repetition exercises. I’m now rated at Level 18 and 42% fluent.

I’m also still slowly working my way through a fantasy novel that I found free for Kindle in both Spanish and English. I read each chapter first in Spanish, and then in English. (Have read 75% now, so there’s a pretty good chance I’ll actually finish it!)

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Welsh: Tried a few lessons back in the summer, but gave it up…

Flag of Turkey

Turkish: During the autumn I worked my way through the Duolingo app while also watching 100 episodes of a Turkish soap opera on TV (with Swedish subtexts). Result: I have (with difficulty!) finished the exercises. Came out at level 13, but with NO percentage rating. Just the exhortation “Keep up the good work”… LOL

I’m not sure if the percentage rating works with every language? but have to admit it is probably fair enough to say that although I picked up a few words and phrases, and some little idea of the construction of the language (very different from any of the European ones I know), I did not get anywhere near any percent of fluency… And probably never will! I still wouldn’t call it a complete waste of time to have given it a go, though. (I’m sure I learnt something from it, even if it’s difficult to say exactly what!)

Flag of France

French:  Repeating some French simultaneously with learning Spanish was/is a bit of a challenge. (Because in some ways the two languages are a little too much alike. And yet not quite…) I studied French for five years back in school. But that was 45 years ago and I have hardly used the language since! Which shows off in the Duo rating… Having taken some shortcuts through the program, I came out at level 12 and 31%.

Flag of Germany

German: I studied German for three years in senior high, then one year as business language at secretarial college, and three terms at university. I did not check it out on Duo until a few days ago, but was relieved to find my foundations still pretty solid. I took a shortcut test and got rated at around 50% fluent almost from start. I’ll keep shortcutting my way through, but have decided to look into some lessons a bit more thoroughly, because after all, there have been some changes in vocabulary since the 1980’s. (For example, we had no computers back then!)

Flag of Netherlands

New Challenge in 2017: Dutch. After Turkish, in some ways starting with Dutch felt like plain sailing… At least as long as I both see it written and hear it pronounced at the same time, and just have to guess at the meaning and pair words together, one simple sentence at a time... When it comes to more active use, however… hrrm … The thing is, to me Dutch comes across like a mix of German, English, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish – but with its own weird* spelling and pronunciation… (*Sorry! to my Dutch friends…) So very easy to mix things up!

But hopefully at least my Swedish, English and German will prove solid enough not to get “dutchified”… (I thought I made that word up. But it seems to actually already exist!)


  1. They say learning new languages is the hardest thing to learn. You must have a special really smart brain!! You amaze me!! And learning so many at once!!

    1. Ginny, somehow my brain was always more interested in languages than for example maths or science. I never really imagined that I'd be brushing up on my language skills at this age though - and even taking on new ones!

  2. I was working my way through the German at Duolingo, but got sidetracked at Christmas and haven't do a lesson in forever. I was at 41%. I want to do the Spanish, I minored in it in College and see if I still remember.

    1. Janet, it was you who introduced me to the Duo app to begin with, so many thanks for that :) It's a great app whether you want to brush up on half-forgotten skills or try something new.

  3. congratulations, you have done so well. you know I tried it 3 times and said not for me. but you are doing super great and not only are you learning new languages but you are exercising your brain.

    1. Thanks Sandra. It really does feel like great brain exercise - and the brain likes the reward of immediate response :)


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