I joined Duolingo to learn Swedish 6 years ago but didn't continue because the lessons were silly. The sentences often featured animals doing weird things; they didn't make sense and weren't practical for traveling or trying to understand Swedish shows. It seemed like I had to get through a lot of nonsense to learn grammar and advance to useful content, but I didn't know how long it would take so I quit for a long time.
But in the summer my work situation changed, so I decided that since I'd neglected language-learning for so long, I got back on Duolingo to learn German, Japanese, French, and Spanish. At this point I need to learn German, and since it's sort of similar to Swedish, I'd get sort of confused, so I didn't resume Swedish (maybe the lessons have improved?).
I was able to skip a bunch of lessons in Japanese because I'd been studying it every day for a while on Twitter by following Japanese accounts, and via NHK and shows that have English subtitles. I hadn't realized my Japanese was ok until I got on Duolingo and found the lessons to be pretty easy, even after taking a placement test. So I just kept jumping ahead by taking mini-tests until I landed where I am now, which is more challenging, yet still enjoyable.
I started quite low with French and Spanish, even though I've studied them before, and started really low with German. For a while I was doing all four languages every day, but I realized I was diluting the experience, so I do a couple or languages a day, or maybe just German more deeply per day.
It's actually really fun! And I think I'm learning a lot. I'm almost at a 140-day streak, and I'm really motivated. I try to study the languages in other contexts and look at my old textbooks for more grammar, syntax, and other structural explanations, and I want to keep doing more. My head is definitely fatigued by trying to learn all those languages, and sometimes I'm too tired to try to advance, but that's part of the brain-expanding, language-learning process. Anyone who's trying to get better in a language is going to feel the pressure, and hopefully from all this pain will come gain :)
What makes language-learning difficult is since I'm not surrounded by it, I have to motivate myself and find sources that will help me improve. In certain parts of the city I can hear Spanish and can practice speaking it, but the other languages are rare, so I have to go online or crack open a book. I'd rather hear humans speak it IRL because spending a lot of time in front of a screen is draining.
Anyway, I'm now back in the language-learning world, which was the original intention of this blog, though I'm not doing any translating. It seems like it's very hard to get decent pay for translating (I never made much before anyway) and machines are doing a lot of the work, so perhaps that door is closed.