I am approaching Day 180 in a row of learning German and I finally progressed to the emerald league on Monday. In my previous post, I wrote of the futility of striving to achieve the Apple Activity challenges. I see the Duolingo challenges in a different light.
When learning a language it’s easy to hit walls and it’s easy to lose enthusiasm and drive. Starting a new module entails making a lot of mistakes and this discourages you from spending time on it. Life also gets in the way, with its distractions.
For a while I studied at the end of the day, just to keep my streak and to stay within the league I reached. The decision to revert to revising modules I had completed has helped.
Revision and consolidation
I went back through and revised the modules that it told me to revise, and when my confidence grew enough I went back to trying new modules and learning new words. Eventually, I revised some modules so much that I don’t need to look up the words. I don’t need to listen to a phrase three or four times to get every word. I am at the point where I hear the phrase once, and I can write it down.
Last week I earned around 658 XP, with 58 lessons completed, 33 words learned, and three hours and fourty two minutes spent studying. This excludes the one or two podcasts I listened to while doing other things. Yesterday when I listened to a podcast I noticed myself understanding more words.
The League Tables
League tables encourage you to study harder. On the first day you study to place yourself in the top ten, and that means up to ten lessons at a time. Now amplify this by seven and you’ve got the motivation to complete 70 lessons or more per week. That’s an investment of three hours per week to learn a new language. Contrast that to the 50 XP per day daily goal. That’s 35 lessons. The encouragement has doubled.
I am now working through Checkpoints Four and Five. I am consolidating my knowledge of the words within that checkpoint. I am also working my way through learning new words in level five. It’s a slow process but I want to ensure that I learn the words properly. By going too fast a few weeks ago I overwhelmed myself and had to go back and revise, to continue. I am moving forward again.
I have started to keep notes by day. When I struggle with certain words or phrases I copy them to the Day One app. I can refer to them any time. I can revise these phrases more frequently. With repetition, these words or phrases will sink in.
The Web App
I liked to use the web app for a while. With the German dictionary, it made learning easier. I would start typing the word I wanted and it would auto-complete. With an update, the link between the app and dictionary was broken. This resulted in predictive text inserting mistakes. It went from being a comfortable mobile phone app to being a nuisance. Learning a new language is hard enough, without the predictive app adding an extra layer of difficulty.
With the web app I don’t have any such issues. It’s simple, effective, and when I struggle with a phrase I can copy and paste it into Day One for easy access.
It’s easy to install an app or start using a website and within days or weeks forget about it. In 2015 I installed the app but forgot about it. I started using it properly in February 2019. Since then I use it almost daily. My streak is at 178 days. I’m tempted to experiment with Babbel, in parallel because you get certificates for modules completed.