If you have already earned your Golden Owl or reached the level on Duolingo that you were aiming for, you may be wondering what you should do after Duolingo. Of course, using Duolingo by itself won’t get you to fluency on its own, so here are 12 things that you should do when you feel like you’ve graduated from the app.
You can also use this list as ideas for what to do after you’ve used Duolingo that day (and not finished it forever!) If you’ve used just Duolingo for a while and are wondering what else you can add to your study plan, this is a perfect place to start!
1.Continue to Use Duolingo, Even After You’ve Finished
Even after you think you’ve finished Duolingo, you may want to consider continuing to use it. It’s a great way to reinforce what you’ve already learned, plus you can try some of these ways to make Duolingo harder.
If you’ve already earned your Level 1 Golden Owl, which is when you’ve earned at least one crown in each skill, then you can aim to earn a Level 2 Golden Owl! One of Duolingo’s recent update made it possible to see which level of Golden Owl you have earned so far.
So if you’ve completed every skill up to 1 crown, there will be a Duolingo Owl Trophy at the end of your tree and it will show 1 crown filled in. You have the possibility to get 5 crowns, but it will require you to complete every skill in that tree up to 5 crowns.
Another way to motivate yourself to continue to use Duolingo is by checking your language level and trying to reach Level 25. You can learn how to do that in this post.
2.Start Taking iTalki Lessons if You Haven’t Already
If you haven’t started iTalki yet, you should definitely get on that! In my opinion, it’s the BEST way to learn languages. Hands down. On iTalki you can talk with a native speaker for $4-$9 per hour, so it’s one of the cheapest ways to get conversation practice.
Of course, all language learners know that just speaking the language is one of the fastest ways to learn, however, it can be super difficult to get yourself to actually do that in your daily life. I have found that when I book classes, I study way more during the week since I want to be prepared for my class.
Plus, I always show up because there is money on the line! Ever since I started using iTalki, I’ve been able to accelerate the learning process while getting to know some amazing people through the classes.
If you’re serious about learning a language, you HAVE to be taking lessons on iTalki. I’m being dramatic, but also totally serious, I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
3. Try Babbel to Focus More on Learning Grammar Rules
If you liked Duolingo but are looking for something a bit more challenging, then consider trying Babbel. Duolingo has mainly just exercises and you have to teach yourself the grammar, but with Babbel, they teach you along the way while also using exercises.
The three main things that I don’t like about Babbel are that you have to pay monthly, you only have access to one language, and it doesn’t have any motivational tools like Duolingo does. Duolingo has XP, levels, Golden Owls, etc to motivate learners, but with Babbel, you will definitely need to be more self-motivated.
However, you should definitely consider using Babbel if you are wanting to buy an official language textbook because Babbel is essentially a textbook in an app.
4. Try Learning with Materials Created for Native Speakers
Instead of searching out more materials meant for learners, try to search out things that a native speaker would use. Instead of googling in your native language, try searching in the language you want to learn.
You can search for articles and blogs in your target language as well as the most popular music to get yourself more immersed in the language itself. This not only helps you learn faster, but also gives you that personal attachment to the language that makes it a part of your life.
5. Chat with Native Speakers on the HelloTalk App
HelloTalk is a free app that allows you to chat with native speakers. You correct their sentences and they correct yours.
The main downside of this app is that you can only use it to learn one language, instead of having chats in multiple languages going at one time.
6. Order a Formal Grammar Textbook and Improve Your Grammar Skills
There’s just something about having a physical book in your hand that can be motivational in itself. If you’re like me and love to take notes and plan things on paper instead of on the computer, then you should grab a grammar textbook!
My favorite grammar textbook is the “Easy (Insert Language Here): Step-by-Step” textbooks by McGraw Hill. They make them in most languages and it’s a great first textbook for beginner learners.
7. Watch Youtube/ Netflix in Your Target Language
One of the best ways to practice your listening comprehension is by watching Youtube or Netflix in the language you’re learning. However, you have to be actively listening for this to help, it doesn’t work if it’s just playing in the background (if only!!!)
It can be a little difficult to find a Youtuber that you like, since when you google “Best Youtubers in (Insert Country)” they will usually just tell you who has the most subscribers.
Instead, go onto Youtube and search for the subject that you like in the language that you’re learning. For example, “makeup tutorial” or “commentary video about (insert celebrity name)” in the language you want to see videos in.
By doing this in Spanish, I found a Youtuber that loves Taylor Swift and makes tons of videos about her (and I’m a Swiftie, don’t judge me!). So I’ll definitely be watching some of these later!
After a while you’ll have a list of Youtubers that you subscribe to and enjoy watching!
For Netflix, the best way to get more content in your target language is by using a VPN. A VPN can trick your computer into thinking that you’re in a different country, so if I want to learn Italian, I switch my VPN to “Italy.”
The VPN I’ve used around the world and LOVE because it gets me so many extra Netflix shows is Nord VPN. It’s one of the cheapest VPNs and it’s super easy to use.
I go into more detail about how to use Netflix and VPNs to learn languages in this post.
8. Use the Duolingo Vocabulary You Learned in Conversation
One of the best things to do after Duolingo is go back and make sure that you can recall easily those words that you learned. Even though you can recognize them when you see them, can you use them in conversation easily?
By studying the Duolingo vocabulary list, you can make sure that you’ve truly learned all those words in the app. (I highly recommend adding them to a flashcard deck, which we go over in the next point!)
The main place to find the Duolingo vocabulary list is on the Duolingo desktop website, so not on the application itself. (I use the desktop version often because you can earn XP way faster plus you don’t lose any health/hearts!)
On Duolingo.com, after you log in, head to the three dots or “More” tab and click on “Words.”
This tab will show you a vocabulary list of all the words you have already learned in your Duolingo tree. So if you haven’t finished your tree, you may not have all of the words here yet.
9. Create Your Own Flashcards Using Anki
The book Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It, which is one of the most popular language learning books, uses Anki as the method to always remember what you’ve learned. Anki is a spaced repetition flashcard app.
This basically means that after you make a flashcard, Anki will show you that card to review right before you are about to forget it. So at first, you review the word more often, then after a while, the intervals become longer and longer.
In a way, the decks become your brain, but instead of forgetting the words you’ve learned, it nudges you to remember it every few weeks or months.
I’m currently working on building up my vocabulary in Spanish, French, and Italian and I’ve started using Anki every day! We’ll see how that goes and if it helps me remember those words I don’t use as often.
10. Learn More Vocabulary Using Memrise
If you’re struggling to find more words to learn or if you don’t want to make your own flashcards, Memrise is the best place to be! You can go through their pre-made courses for each language if you are a beginner, but there are tons of flashcard decks to choose from.
My favorite way to use Memrise is to search for frequency vocabulary lists. Basically, these are lists of the most common 2,000, 5,000, or 10,000 words in each language. So instead of learning random words, you learn the ones that are most frequently used first.
The best way to find these decks on Memrise is to search “frequent” and your language.
Although Memrise has an app, I don’t recommend using it. I don’t consider it very user-friendly, so definitely stick to the desktop version.
11. Read the News in Your Target Language
Sometimes it can be hard to just pick up a book in another language and start reading, but it’s much easier to convince yourself to just read one article online! The best way to do this is by reading the news and having a news app on your phone.
Since all of the languages that I speak are spoken in Europe, the news app that I use is EuroNews. It’s free and the best part is that I can switch between all languages all in one app.
EuroNews currently has news in these languages:
If you aren’t learning any of those languages, the easiest way to find a News app in your language is to head to the app store and click on the various news apps, then scroll over to see what languages they offer. If it says it has more than one language, you can usually click on that and it will show you which languages they are.
Here are a few others I found:
- BBC News: Welsh, Arabic, English, Russian, & Spanish
- Reuters News: Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, & English
- France 24: English, Arabic, Bambara, Cambodian, French, Fulah, Hausa, Persian, Portugese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swahili, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese
Google News App has the most languages available at 44, however, it only lets you see the news in two languages at a time. To get around this, you can go into your settings and change the language to what you want and then refresh the main page.
The second most extensive list of languages in a news app is Microsoft News with 30 languages available.
Although there are a lot of options (depending on the language you’re learning) the BEST app is the one that you’ll actually use. So once you find one that you like, move it to the first page on your phone so it’s one of the first apps you see when you open it.
12. Order Books that You’ve Read Before in Your Target Language
Reading is one of the best ways to passively learn vocabulary, especially if you’re reading something you’ve read before in your native language. It’s best to choose a book that is meant for kids or pre-teens as that is most likely the reading level that you are at at this point.
For most, the best option would be the Harry Potter books, since they have been translated into most languages and the reading level is for ages 11+. You can also get one month free to read it on Kindle here or listen to it on Audible, which gives you two free audiobooks.
However, if you feel like you’re not at that level yet or if a whole book is a bit daunting, try a short story book instead. Short stories grab your attention much quicker and you’ll be able to feel more accomplished as you finish each story.