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Useful Duolingo tactics

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I have gradually discovered some tactics that make Duolingo more effective.

Write-what-you-hear exercises

I listen to the prompt several times before entering my answer. If my answer has an error, I look at the correct answer (which Duolingo provides) and listen to the prompt over and over, following the printed answer, until I can hear clearly what is said. Then when the prompt is given again, later in the lesson, I have no problem understanding it. (Duolingo uses a mastery approach, so it will return to any items you answered incorrectly until you are able to answer them correctly.)

Translate-a-sentence (from Esperanto) exercises

The Esperanto sentence is both displayed and  recited. I make it a practice to not look at the printed sentence but try to understand it simply by listening. I will click the blue loudspeaker button to hear the phrase or sentence repeatedly until I am sure what it is — and only then I look at the phrase to check. If I got it wrong, I listen to it more, reading it while I listen, until I can hear clearly what is said. Only then do I enter the translation. This approach provides more ear training.

When I enter my translation, I hover the mouse over any word I’m unsure of to see the definition. (In fact, Duolingo generally introduces new vocabulary via these exercises, and the hovering lets you learn the new word.

Often, I also make an Anki card for myself for the word, checking Lernu.net’s Esperanto-English dictionary, which usually offers a fuller definition than does Duolingo. As I’ve learned more Esperanto, I’ve also started reading the definitions in La Simpla Vortaro and/or Plena Ilustrita Vortaro.

Once my translation is complete, I do more hovering to make sure my word choices match Duolingo’s. Quite often, a sentence can be correctly phrased in several ways, and since Duolingo is limited in its range of understanding — it’s a computer program, not a human — I find it best to cooperate with its limitations and phrase things as it suggests.

After I press “Check,” I look at any suggestions shown in the green band. Duolingo will often offer a better phrasing (for example, not so literal and awkward), and I learn those for the next time I encounter such a sentence. The key to success with Duolingo is to cooperate with it, not fight it. Learn what it likes, and do that.

Mark-the-correct-meaning exercises

These exercises offer a sentence in English and have you click on the correct translation of three offered. I do not look at the offered options until I have translated the sentence in my head. I then look for the sentence that matches the translation I have done. Again, this provides more practice in working with the language.

Once I have the translation in mind, I look at all three options — not only to pick out the correction, but to see exactly why the other two options are wrong (proofreading practice).

See also: A few observations on Duolingo’s Esperanto course.

Written by Leisureguy

24 May 2020 at 4:18 pm

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