I’ve been working with this kind of setup for a while now, and since it has served me well I thought I would share it here.
I discovered soon enough that I wasn’t making many progresses by practicing Duolingo skills the traditional way. This is the kind of problem I’ve had with spaced repetition systems in the past as well – they work great at first but after a while they become a bit dry and my retention rate starts dropping significantly.
Active recalling is always best than passive memorisation, so whenever I can I try to follow this simple but much more effective system for both Chinese and Japanese:
- I create an index card for each single skill than I want to work on. On the top left I write ‘C Duolingo’ or ‘J Duolingo’ so that I can distinguish between the two languages, while on the top right I write the name of the specific skill I’m practicing (Activity 1, Food 3 and so on)
- on the index card, I write in English all those sentences I would like to try and actively remember
- I keep adding all new sentences as you usually don’t encounter them all at once
This is what may be considered the preparation phase. You do this once and then your index card is ready and you don’t have to add anything more. The proper study and recalling phase starts now:
- the next time I want to practice that specific still, I first take out my index card and start working with that. I first try to say the sentence in Chinese/Japanese out loud, then take a pace of scrap paper and write down the translation (this way, I also practice characters)
- I go on until I’ve translated all sentences on my card
- I fire Duolingo and check both translation and pronunciation
That’s basically it. As you can see is definitely nothing super long and complex, and it doesn’t require a lot of preparation. It usually takes me about 10/13 minutes to review a single skill using this system, but the retention rate is much much higher than simply using Duolingo on my phone or computer. This way I also feel a lot more engaged in the language and thus I enjoy myself much more while studying.