There are always a few cool kids at school.
You know the ones.
They wear the latest sneakers, watch R-rated movies and enjoy a steady diet of the finest Lunchables.
And among language students, Duolingo certainly has a reputation as being one of the cool kids.
Practically any language learner you meet knows the name, and many learners have at least tried Duolingo, if not completed a whole course.
Using spaced repetition, Duolingo presents students with material in an organized manner designed to maximize learning while minimizing time and effort.
While there may be some similar apps out there, there’s nothing quite like Duolingo.
But there’s just one problem with Duolingo: Eventually, you’ll complete the course you’re working on, and what then?
Even cool kids have to finish school and go out into the real world.
So you’ll definitely need a plan for what to do after Duolingo.
But don’t worry! With a little effort, you can keep your learning on a roll.
Why Is It Important to Have a Plan for What to Do After Duolingo?
First of all, you’ll want to have a plan for what to do after Duolingo because without the structure of the lessons, your skills might fade. Duolingo courses offer a clear structure that allows you to study for as little as five minutes a day. This structure is important in that it encourages consistent studying, which you might miss once your course is over. And without this structure, your skills could fade, so you need to figure out some way to prevent this. After all, it’s easier to never forget the language in the first place than to try to remember it later.
Plus, without additional study past Duolingo, you won’t progress any further. Duolingo is terrific, but it has its limits. If you stop studying after you complete a Duolingo course, you”ll miss out on valuable grammar, vocabulary and listening practice, and your skills won’t progress past the level Duolingo left you at.
Without a clear course of action for what to do after Duolingo, it might be too easy to quit studying altogether. The only surefire way to never become fluent in your target language is to quit studying. And without Duolingo’s fun, game-ified learning to keep you focused, this could definitely happen if you don’t have a plan in place.
Onward! 6 Ways to Keep Learning After Your Duolingo Course
Keep using Duolingo anyway.
If you love Duolingo so much that you just can’t bear the thought of leaving it behind, there’s good news: You don’t have to.
Even if you’ve finished a Duolingo course, Duolingo can still help you continue learning.
There are two ways you can make this happen.
One way is to go back and redo all the lessons until you earn perfect scores in all areas. Your scores will fade over time, so getting them to all be perfect at the same time will require a lot of time and effort. However, the only thing as rewarding as having a perfect score in each category simultaneously may be knowing that perfect score reflects your wealth of knowledge.
Another way to keep using Duolingo to study your target language is to use the “practice” feature on the right-hand side of the page. This feature presents you with familiar Duolingo questions in order to strengthen key words and skills, so it’s a good way to reinforce what Duolingo taught you and to prevent backsliding.
Dive into authentic media to see what you learned in a more authentic context.
Authentic media is one of the best ways to put what you’ve learned from Duolingo into context.
Since Duolingo’s main focus is helping you learn vocabulary and grammar quickly, one thing it’s lacking is more extended activities. If you want to use your target language in real life, you’ll need to be able to understand much more than one sentence at a time. You’ll also need to understand your language as it’s actually spoken. Authentic media can help you acquire the necessary skills for this. But don’t worry, you don’t have to dive in with no help.
You can start learning through real-world internet videos on FluentU. FluentU offers authentic content intended for native speakers, like news, music videos and movie trailers. With FluentU, you’ll never be in over your head, because videos are captioned and the captions are annotated, giving you easy access to any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image. You can even follow up with customized quizzes that remember all the words you’ve learned and can keep walking you through your target language until you reach fluency—giving you another structured, game-ified way to continue your learning.
You can also go right to the source and find limitless authentic material on YouTube. YouTubers speak a huge variety of languages, so it’s easy to find content in your target language.
One way to find great YouTubers is to use Socialbakers, which allows you to filter YouTube channels by country. While the top channels may not use the local language, they often do, so you can find some fun study material this way.
Read real materials in your target language to see the vocabulary and grammar you learned in a more immersive context.
Just like you’ll need to immerse yourself in authentic audio and video, it’s important to continue your education by reading longer texts.
Most Duolingo texts are quite brief, so if you rely on Duolingo alone, you might not have the skills you need for more in-depth reading.
One way to improve your reading is to read online content in your target language. For instance, you might read a magazine’s website or a news site in your target language. BBC News offers coverage in a delightful array of languages that will suit most language learners.
If that seems too daunting, check out Readlang. Readlang is an excellent tool to transition to reading longer texts in your target language. It allows you to click on words or phrases as you’re reading to get a quick translation. You can even turn the words you look up into flashcards.
Regardless of what content you’re reading and how you’re reading it, pay careful attention to what you’re struggling with. If you notice you’re struggling with a particular rule or theme, go back to the corresponding lesson in Duolingo and do it again. Also, pay attention for words or rules that weren’t addressed by Duolingo and…
Research grammar and vocabulary that weren’t covered much in your Duolingo course.
Duolingo can’t possibly cover everything about your target language, so to continue your education past Duolingo, try researching key areas that Duolingo didn’t cover as much.
For instance, what grammar rules were barely touched on that you could stand to learn in more depth? What specialized terminology could you learn? For instance, would you like to learn more regional slang? Would some business vocabulary broaden your horizons?
There are resources available that can help you with virtually any content. All you need to do is find the weak points you want to work on.
If you want to work on slang, there are plenty of slang dictionaries out there.
Connect with others in the Duolingo forums.
The Duolingo forums may be your go-to destination when you have questions about the material you’ve learned on Duolingo, but can they help you keep learning when you’ve completed a Duolingo course? Absolutely!
One way to keep learning your target language through the Duolingo forums is to find native speakers of your target language. People around the world use Duolingo, so you might be able to find a speaker of your target language in the forums who would gladly help you practice your target language in exchange for some help with your native language.
This language exchange can give you valuable reading, writing, speaking and/or listening practice, depending on your preferences. Plus, making a friend who speaks your target language can increase your motivation to improve your language skills.
Another option for using Duolingo forums to continue learning is to connect with other alumni of your language course. Every day, more students are completing Duolingo courses and are probably in the exact same spot you are, wondering what to do next. If you connect with these students in the forums, you can work together to find the best course of action to continue studying your target language. And best of all, having a study buddy can improve your motivation and keep you accountable. No quitters here!
Try a more conventional course to reinforce your skills in a different context and fill in any gaps.
Since Duolingo has given you the foundation you need to approach studying your target language confidently, you might now try taking a more conventional course. Conventional courses can help you understand the underlying rules of the language in more depth while reinforcing your skills and filling in any missing material.
Oregon State University is one terrific source for courses that are offered online. Through OSU, language learners can study American Sign Language, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.
If one of your favorite features of Duolingo is its affordability, you might like MIT Open Courseware. MIT Open Courseware offers free online course materials to help students study an array of languages and language-related topics. Languages offered include Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.
So once you finish your Duolingo course, keep going with these easy ways to keep your language learning on a roll.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.