Learning German from DuoLingo: Day 94

Today is the 94th day of my ongoing attempt at learning to read German by using the DuoLingo cell phone application and web site. In this post, I'll describe my progress since day 91.


Pilze und Zwiebeln (mushrooms and onions): pixabay license, source

But first, a youtube video from DuoCon on the DuoLingo web site. It's a five hour video, and I don't plan to watch the whole thing, but the beginning has an interview with Cindy Berger, a linguist at DuoLingo. The interview discussed the process they use for creating the stories inside application, and I thought it was very interesting.

In the video, Berger lists the language-pairs that have stories and says that they're continuously working to expand stories to new language-pairs. She also describes the process that a story goes through from inception, starting with a pitch by the team of writers, followed by editing and adaptation by a team of editors and language experts, and finally concluding with deployment in the application. It's fascinating to hear all the work that is necessary for such a seemingly simple concept.

And now, back to my own activities. As discussed on day 91, I had hoped to complete the final level (level 5) of the "Numbers 1" category on Sunday, and I did manage to get it done, along with a number of practice exercises for categories that had decayed away from completion and for the "Conjunctions" category - where I still need as much practice as I can get. Since I had just watched the interview with Cindy Berger, I also read a story about a girl who finds herself in the awkward situation of learning that her mother is going on a date with her teacher. (the girl's teacher, not the mother's)

As in previous weeks, after maintaining my position in the diamond league, I intentionally waited until late Monday evening before starting this week's learning. I do that because I want to stay away from the more competitive leagues, where I might have to spend too much time to keep from being demoted out of the diamond league. When I did start, I completed some lessons in the "Food 2" category and also practice exercises in three categories that had decayed away from completion.

So far, today, I advanced to level 2 in the "Food 2" category and completed a practice exercise in the "Stuff" category, which needed to be refreshed. I just noticed now that two more categories have decayed away, so I'll have to do practice exercises in those ("Intro" and "Adjectives") after I finish this post. And, of course, I'll also practice the conjunction category. I actually think I'm starting to get a feel for conjunctions, but more improvement is needed. Additionally, I clicked on a notification that took me into the "dative" category, so I did one exercise in that category, too, which leaves me in level 0.

Here is some information from the Tips section in that category. First, it starts off by describing the term, saying:

In German, when you give something to someone, whoever you're giving that thing to? They get the dative case.

An example of this would be:

Das Mädchen gibt einem Hund ein Hemd.The girl gives a shirt to a dog.

Similarly, it says that if you're showing something to someone, the thing being shown gets the accusative case, and the person it's being shown to gets the dative case.

For example:

Er zeigt einem Kind einen Vogel.He shows a bird to a child.

Going back to the lesson on Accusative case, the Tips gave this table:

masculineder -> denein -> einen
femininedie -> dieeine -> eine
neuterdas -> dasein -> ein

And now we have this matching table for the dative case:

Typebasic formdative form
femininedie (singular)der (really.. "der Frau".. ugh)
pluraldie (plural)den

I'm guessing that ein/eine are going to have similar transformations, but the Tips only mention "einem" in passing, without really explaining it. It also points out that with the dative case, you add an "n" to the end of plural nouns (because, why not?).

So yeah, in all this category looks like it'll be another challenge. But I'm not doing any more lessons there until I finish "Food 2", so hopefully I have a couple days before getting into the weeds.

And here are some words from the "Food 2" lessons (I'm learning and this is partly from from memory, so mistakes are possible):

der Pilzthe mushroom
die Pilzethe mushrooms
die Zwiebelthe onion
die Zwiebelnthe onions
der Salatthe salad
die Vorspeisethe appetizer (like "Vorname" == "first name", "first food" I suppose.)
das Mittagessenthe lunch
das Abendessenthe dinner (evening meal)
das Frühstückthe breakfast
frühstuückento eat breakfast
die Gabelthe fork
die Gabelnthe forks
das Messerthe knife (related to Messerschmitt?)
die Messerthe knives
der Löffelthe spoon
die Löffelthe spoons

Finally, here are my current numbers:

  • Streak: 94 days
  • Hearts: 3
  • Crowns: 148
  • Crystals: 594
  • Lingots: 424
  • XP today: 82
  • Total XP: 16329
  • League: Diamond
  • XP in league: 206
  • Place in league: 16
  • Time left in league: 5d 0h 54 minutes
  • Followers: 4
  • Words learned: 562 in app, 702 in web site

No new special characters in today's post, so the full table (so far) still looks like this:

Key presscharacter

If you want to learn a foreign language (or Klingon or High Valyrian), my recommendation for DuoLingo continues to be "thumbs up". According to the app, you can also use DuoLingo to learn dead or endangered languages like Latin, Navajo or Hawaiian.

My guess is that no one is going to learn to speak a language perfectly through DuoLingo, but I think it can provide a solid foundation that can be used to build additional knowledge through other, immersive techniques.

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