#turkish from scratch, only using Duolingo

Launched: February 9, 2021

If you have been following me on Twitter, you will know that I am not a big fan of the green owl. I don’t really like the gamification and the lack of grammar explanations. Big fan of a paper textbook here!

However, I see many people, both on Twitter and closer to home, studying languages such as Arabic and Korean – with Duolingo and with good results. I have even met a girl from Romania, who has been studying Dutch for only 4 months (at the moment I am writing this blog) and can already hold a conversation. Impressive, I would say …

Hence this experiment. Turkish has been on my wish list for a while now (what am I saying, a while, for years!), so I was thinking: why not try and see what level I could reach with Duolingo, but only Duolingo, no other resources allowed. Could be fun to see …

On day 5 I have finished the first level, basics. I did look up the conjugation of regular verbs (YouTube channels), because I really needed that. I had no idea how to conjugate to eat and to drink and always made mistakes (so frustrating … you see, pitfall already). After I had looked that up, I finished this level in no time.

I have decided to add the vocabulary to an Anki deck on my phone, because I already feel that relying only on Duolingo is not going to help me remember the vocabulary.

On day 9, my anki deck is growing, I am adding the vocabulary skill per skill, takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it in the end (and adding them counts as study time, because you are focused on the words and the translations). Every morning I do a few lessons while having breakfast. During the day, whenever I feel like it, I do more lessons and of course review my anki deck.

I have been browsing the internet for textbooks – you know, just in case, I might want to continue Turkish. I do have a grammar book, so I am going to have a look at that.

On day 11, I have finished 7 skills of checkpoint 1. 5 levels of the last skill remaining. I am falling more and more in love with the language. Vowel harmony is so beautiful (and logical) and agglutination is so fun. I had no idea! I do have to admit that I am looking up grammar on YouTube (FC LangMedia is a good channel). But … I am not taking notes, I just listen to the videos to get immersed in the wondrous world of Turkish. I am also (still) looking into textbook material, but I am not going to buy anything just yet.

Two weeks in, on day 14, and the frustration is building up, much like I expected. There is little to no explanation given (although there is a brief overview on their website), this is by far not enough to provide you enough knowledge to answer the questions correctly. And I hate parroting sentences without any meaning. That to me is not learning a language. I want to know what the words mean and how to combine them and why they are declined the way they are declined. You get me, right? Working on the possessive now … and losing hearts by the dozens.

Day 20 and I still have my streak, so I am doing my Duolingo lessons every day (never thought I would hang in there), some days more than others though. I am now passed checkpoint 1 and doing Locative and Questions. What bothers me though is the lack of explanations, so I really feel that I should have some textbook on the side. Still persevering though and trying to make due with the brief explanations on the website. Giving it another week and then I will decide whether or not to use a book. I saw a picture in Turkish (don’t remember the context) and I could understand what it said – only 2 words, but still … So that felt like a little victory!

A few YouTube channels I randomly watch (only the first 3 so far):

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