I took four college semesters of Spanish decades ago and have been doing Duoling exercises twice a day now for over 530 days. I long ago completed all the lessons and started doing refresh lessons in the app. I continue to use it because it's easy. What would be a possible next step to improve my reading comprehension?

I do speak a little Spanish, mainly when I order food. I have a couple of readers from my college classes that I've been working through. I've tried reading the newspaper El Pais. Many of the articles have sentences that are entire paragraphs, so it is hard to understand it in small chunks. Is there anything else in between?

  • 1
    Welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange! It would be beneficial if you could elaborate on what you mean by "anything else in between" and what you have learned (and maybe to what fluency level) May 23, 2017 at 0:20

5 Answers 5


There are quite a few things you can do from this point. One course of action I would suggest is to start watching Spanish videos and television. One suitable series for beginners (with English subtitles) is @Extra. Another idea is reading the Spanish translation of a book you're familiar with (a book that you enjoy). (This is an online library with Spanish books.) You can also try out Espanglish Chat, which is a website that allows you to talk in both English and Spanish to other language learners.

You may also want to give the reverse Duolingo course, which teaches English for Spanish speakers.

The most important thing is to just constantly keep practicing and using the language skills you've learned in your daily life. Good luck!

  • Lots of help in all the all the answers. I've watched several telenovelas with sub-tittles. They're too fast for me. I pick up many words, but rarely the entire sentence. Some of my native Spanish speaking friends say they have a hard time with some of them. My main goal is to do something every day. As soon as I start skipping, I'll end up quitting.
    – curt
    May 24, 2017 at 22:23
  • @curt Extra should work for most language learners because it uses simplistic vocabulary and the actors speak slowly. It's specifically targeted for language learners.
    – fi12
    May 24, 2017 at 22:25

Duolingo works great as an introduction to the language, but you can't really expect it to bring you to fluency, no matter how much time you spend strengthening skills or doing the reverse tree.

I like to view the process of learning a language in terms of competencies. If you've only finished a Duolingo tree, you will most likely need a lot of additional practice in speaking, listening, and reading long-form texts to bring them in line with your current vocabulary and grammar skills.

The most effective way to improve your speaking skills would be simply talking with native speakers of Spanish, or even other learners. I recommend checking out HelloTalk, Speaky, Interpals, or Meetup (for in-person meetings) — it shouldn't be too difficult to find someone who would like to chat with you in Spanish.

When it comes to listening, you need to immerse yourself in Spanish-language content. TV series, movies, podcasts, radio, audiobooks — whatever works for you. Try to start with something that comes with subtitles or transcripts and listen attentively. When you begin to feel more comfortable with spoken Spanish, you can add passive listening to the mix — try listening to podcasts or radio in the background as you do some mindless tasks.

The trick to improving your reading skills at a basic/intermediate level is choosing the right genres to practice with. I suggest starting with things like children's books, comics, books adapted for language learners and introduction sections in Wikipedia articles. All these tend to be written in a relatively simple language and should help you ease yourself into reading more challenging text types.

If you'd like to see a more comprehensive breakdown of dozens of learning techniques that should work well for anyone who's finished a Duolingo course, take a look at my blog post What to Do After Duolingo: The Definitive Guide.


Personally, I have been using Italki for writing/speaking practice in German, and WordBrewery to build my vocabulary and practice reading. If you are having problems reading, I strongly recommend the latter, as it breaks up sentences from the newspaper. You can even read the source article if you want more context or are just curious. You can also divide the sentences by topic.

Otherwise start immersing yourself in the language as much as you can, possibly find a meet up group nearby. The more you use it in real life, the more you will remember.

Also, I find that if I listen/watch something in my target language before reading, I'm more in the zone and can read easier. Sometimes you just need to get into the language before studying/reading in it.

  • Welcome to Language Learning!
    – fi12
    May 24, 2017 at 10:57

It is best that you speak directly with natives, there are groups on Facebook and other social networks to do so. Myself if you want I can help you in that, having conversations by skype and mail helps to greatly improve the flow.

  • Welcome to Language Learning! Could you expand on your answer, by perhaps including links to resources that can be used for speaking with native speakers?
    – fi12
    May 23, 2017 at 23:59

I really didn't learn as much as I hoped from duolingo. I pay for the studyspanish.com each month along with taking classes at my local CC. I would pay double what I currently do for Studyspanish because it has helped me not only in my independent learning but also for my classes.

I was also gifted a book from a multi-lingual cousin and he said this is one of the best types of books he uses to get over his reading comprehension humps. It's titled Spanish stories, Dover Dual Language, Cuentos Espanoles. It's 13 short stories but on the left page it's in Espanol and on the right it's mirrored but in English. It's really awesome!

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