No end in sight
Do not worry. You should be competing with who you were yesterday: as long as you learned more yesterday.
It sounds like your goals are too ill defined and you are spreading yourself too thin. A common trap I myself fell into when using LingQ in the past. The solution:
For the sake of maintaining motivation it's best to become extremely competent at one small area of the language first, before using that as a base to branch out. For example, you can become conversationally fluent, be able to converse and understand native speakers on topics of interest and general life without any strain within a relatively short space of time. Doing that is extremely gratifying and doesn't require learning hundreds of thousands of words.
Feeling totally confident and at ease (allbeit only in one or a few areas of the language) is vital. If you spread yourself too thin and your goals are too ill defined (e.g. you want to be able to understand everything all the time) language learning will feel like a constant, never ending battle, your progress will be imperceptable and there will be no light at the end of the tunnel. Conversley if you make your focus more narrow, you will be able to percieve your progress and maintain motivation.
So pick a topic of interest, and make it your goal to become almost as competent at speaking about or reading/listening to material on that topic as you are in your mother tongue. Then move onto another topic. The immense feeling of gratification you get from becoming very good at one thing will spur you on to continue spending time with the language long term.
Some background. I've been studying Chinese for five years. For the first four years I approached it in the way you described. I tried to read and listen to anything and everything I could find on LingQ. It was an aimless, thankless task and I became very frustrated that language learning seemed like a never ending mountain.
One year ago I changed my approach. I massively narrowed my focus to concentrate exclusively on improving my pronunciation and conversation skills on a few topics of interest. Because my focus was narrow, within a few months I was able to became very good at speaking about the things I wanted to speak about.
Does that mean that my Chinese is now perfect? No of course not. There are still many topics I'd struggle to speak about. But it means that it doesn't matter anymore because I am very confident in my ability to do a few things very well and have no doubt that if I wanted to branch out to other areas of the language I could become highly competent at them too.
All of the best language learners I've met have done it this way. You may be more interested in reading than speaking but the same principles apply.
Matt Vs Japan has one of the highest levels in Japanese a learner can have (Steve even confirmed this in the video he did with him) and he tells a very different story. He definitely didn't focus on a narrow converstational part of Japanese. He dived in at the deep end and learned to swim. He would listen to stuff that was miles above his level, right from the very beginning. He even suspects that it's a more efficient way since you're always encountering new vocab/tricky grammar. It takes a number of years for it to produce real results, but those results seem to be much higher than the skill building results reported/demonstrated by most. If you think about it, it makes sense. It is (though not completely) how billions of people learned their native language after all.
Matt vs Japan isn't really doing anything revolutionary its just read and listen but he only did that and a lot of it. He talks about in refold how one should pick a domain and then hop to the next and to the next etc. He is also a huge anime watcher which isn't the hardest vocab wise so that is probably why he says this "He even suspects that it's a more efficient way since you're always encountering new vocab/tricky grammar."
"He would listen to stuff that was miles above his level, right from the very beginning" He did this because there isn't but of another option especially back then. He says hard and exciting is better than easier and boring which follows along with stephen krashen's work.
I wouldn't say he dove into the deep end more like the part in front of the shallow end because anime is not very dense speech wise and it has a lot of phrases that are super easy etc. Obviously the other half is the dense paragraphs and narration etc so it has a shallow end and deep end.
I wasn't talking about his method. Whether or not he did it because there wasn't an option isnt relevant, the point is he did it, and it worked, very well. You might say, 'Anime isn't the hardest' but for a beginner it really is, and he lived with the difficulty, for many months. He frequently tells how he could barely understand it for a long time. I'm not sure if his site now advises to 'focus on one domain and then hop to the next' but that's definitely not what he did. Or at least he's never mentioned doing that in any of his videos. He watched tons of Anime, but as far as I know that covers a wide range of themes/topics.
@hellion He didn't have a job for like 7 years so efficiency isn't a strong point. Anybody on this planet can learn a language with 4-8 hours a day for this long, but the main difference between kids and adults is kids don't have jobs. So if one quits their job and studies like he did I can guarantee they will be fluent. But this isn't the reality so doing everything he did and claiming it works doesn't prove that its the most efficient way but only that it works because he did it. The real question is what activities work with a higher grade of efficiency because he listened for over 4000 hours according to him which is very inefficient. This is only listening and There are people that accomplish greater feats than Japanese listening in that amount of time. So I would argue that his listening strategies were inefficient because 4000 hours is too much (this isn't counting all the reading he did to learn all the words he is trying to listen too). So pointing to Matt and listening to his claim of listening to stuff where you can't understand is fine as long as you know 90% of the words on paper written down then you can acquire those words but if you are trying to acquire words through listening that you have never seen/heard prior this will take a lot longer hence why kids learn so slow. Listening is understanding the sounds of a language but more importantly it is subconsciously processing words into information and languages have a lot of words and combinations of words.
It's a lifetime study, there's no rush, I've resigned to the fact that there are just some elements of even my mother tongue that I'll probably never know, we can only hope to learn that which is most relevant to the topic that we enjoy discussing most.
For me, true confidence in my language came when I was able to have fluid, natural conversations with native speakers. Before that point, I had always felt a bit clumsy and uncertain when speaking, like I was constantly searching for the right words. But once I reached a certain level of fluency, I suddenly felt more confident and comfortable using my language. I no longer hesitated or stumbled over my words, and I was able to hold conversations without difficulty. This milestone made me feel proud of my accomplishments and motivated me to continue learning. Now, even though I still have moments of uncertainty, I know that I am capable of communicating effectively in my language.
You talk about not feeling competent. Your feeling of competence is different from actually being competent. At 117k known words in Czech, you should be competent. At least in the contexts you've been studying in. But you don't feel competent? I think there may be a disconnect.
1) Even if you mark known words very liberally, you have read 2.8M words (on LingQ). This should be a good number of words read to be at least reasonably competent. At least for easier novels.
2) Maybe your lack of confidence stems from the fact that you read hard material? If you are trying to read poetry and literature, you will be having a hard time. Maybe try choosing easier material. Or at least alternating between hard material (literature) and easier matieral (to keep you confidence up). What kind of material are you currently reading?
3) In English (my mother tongue), there is also no end in sight for me too. I don't actively study English, but no means, but I still read books or research papers and I encounter words I don't know. Most of the time I just skip the word, cause I don't consider it important. Occassionally, I look up the definition, just for the lols. But do you feel competent in English?
4) I've noticed with language learning, my confidence and mood regarding the language constantly fluctuates between feeling "I'm making great progress!" to "I've spent soooo long on this language and look at how little I know!" If you keep feeling down for a long time, feeling unconfident and despondent, maybe it's time for a little break, to pick up another hobby for a little while, to try a different strategy of learning the language, to read some easy material, etc. But, for me, my confidence fluctuates all the time. :Z
Excellent points, nfera!
The relationship between "confidence" and "competence" is interesting.
Let's assume you want to tackle task XY, then we can distinguish between
- low <-> high confidence
- low <-> high competence
The obvious relationships should be:
- low competence -> low confidence
- high competence -> high confidence
However, depending on a person's psychological makeup and / or the stage of competence (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence), you'll also find the relationships
- low competence -> high confidence
- high competence -> low(er) confidence
This refers to two cognitive biases:
- "The Dunning–Kruger effect is a whereby people with low , expertise, or experience regarding a certain type of a task or area of knowledge tend to overestimate their ability or knowledge. Some researchers also include in their definition the opposite effect for high performers: their tendency to underestimate their skills." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
- The effect of illusory superiority (PB: and inferiority): "More recent research investigating in other countries suggests that illusory superiority depends on culture. Some studies indicate that tend to underestimate their own abilities in order to improve themselves and get along with others." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority
In sum, there are several factors at play here:
1) The psychology of a person influenced by their social milieu (see, for instance, the "cultural capital" in the sense of Pierre Bourdieu and the studies on "transclasse").
2) Cultural factors (see, for example, how individuals should / can present themselves in the US vs Germany vs Japan).
3) The stage of competence (with measurable performances) a person is in.
4) The gender confidence gap: "Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence." https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/
5) Age and a general background knowledge based on experience:
"When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." (Mark Twain)
20K Japanese words (stats are a bit overblown) but still, I've got a LONG way to go. I picked up a Japanese paperback book (related to my background, so I'm already familiar with the topic) and just about finished it. Still need to look up words every page. Don't think there's a finish line :/
Ive been at it for forever in portuguese (76059 word count) and im reading a book now that i thought was for kids and I have to stop every other word to look up the definition. But on the other hand conversation and podcasts are easy now. Do you have problems with them too? If so id take a look at what your doing. If its just books and deeper stuff i wouldn't sweat it, shits hard.
I would say it's normal and you shouldn't worry too much if not for the fact that you're at almost 120k known words and you still "can hardly decipher a single sentence and half the page is blue and yellow". That makes me think that you should definitely adjust your approach if the current one is tiresome and you don't feel like you're doing well enough, but still keep in mind that some novels/texts, as other mentioned, can be at much higher level and even a native with a large vocabulary would have trouble with them.
My suggestion would be to consider reading easier novels, that is with fewer unknown words, maybe below 30 or 20%.
I'd say that I felt competent at around 70-100k known words (basically one year ago, so three years after I started, more or less). Now, I'm just guessing the known words' count because, as much as I like the pokemon game of lingQ, it is by no means the deciding factor for addressing your skill in a language. I mainly chose that number because I recall that around that timeframe I started feeling like I could do everything I wanted with the language with little to no help. Of course there was back then, as there still is, many room for improvement.
Also, I would definitely avoid novels where I had to fight at every sentence. I have some imports like that, and I just put them on the side when I realize that they are too difficult. Some months, or even years later (and I just finished one that I imported two years ago), I come back and I give it a try again. If it's doable I read it, if not, well tough luck, let's try again later.
I have a book I bought about 3 years ago waiting for that day. I suspect it may never come, haha.
For me, it had nothing to do with "Known Words" and everything to do with "Total Words Read." 1 million words read felt like I was making progress. 2 million words read felt like I was competent. I'm aiming for 11,000,000 words read in the fullness of time. I think that the total number of words read in a language is the single most useful metric to track.
I have the same framework. I don't know if you saw the same paper as I did, because I first came across it on the LingQ forums, but according to one corpus analysis, 11,000,000 words read is sufficient to get exposure to the 9,000 most common word families. I have no idea what that translates into in LingQ words in my language (Italian), but I'll find out eventually.
My words read on LingQ is inflated by the fact that for everything I read, I re-read at least once while listening to the audio, and then a third time after doing vocabulary review on all the LingQs in the book - plus the podcast transcripts that I've been working - but I'm tracking the total word count of the books I've read separately, without double counting. I'm at about 450,000 words read and I feel reasonably comfortable in the language with the material I am reading, though I know I'm nowhere near ready to read Il Nome della Rosa, which will be a major checkpoint for me.
This is very interesting....is there a way on Lingq to set a goal for the amount of words read? If so I have not yet stumbled across it....
You can see the words read in your statistics, just look up words of reading all time. There you can see how far off the goal you set for yourself you are.
I tried this just now - thanks Ramonek - a great idea....but I see in comments that some people consider 2 million enough - others 11 million. I guess there must be a sweet spot somewhere around 5 or 6 million words where most things have become known. I have done about 150,000 words of French reading according to Lingq so far, and know about 15,000 words according to Lingq so far, and the words I don't know in new texts are relatively infrequent - so I suspect I know more than 20,000 perhaps. Maybe my vague "end point" in terms of my vocabulary aims might lie somewhere around 1-2 million words read for me and for my purposes, but for others they will want to read considerably more. I will start to look at words read more as I agree with some others on here that that is a critical influence on how many words are known. Would be nice to be able to rank one's languages by words read instead of only word count.
@alandickey, I believe I requested that once but as far as I know there isn't a way
I don't think Lingq will count the words again if you re-read a lesson.
It does now that they've made words read increment automatically as you read.
I just clicked through a lesson I have already finished, and it was not added to the words of reading. I prefer it like this, since I want to track the amount of original content I have exposed myself to.
@ramonek, there is a timer on each page. Once that timer has passed it is automatically marked as read and words are added. Flipping through a lesson won't increase this, but flipping, stopping long enough and flipping will.
The "words read" count in Lingq is a little tricky. If you quickly click through pages or sentences it doesn't count them - as it detects the time spent on a page (or sentence). Longer time it counts the words, but if it is brief it doesn't count the words. If I am speed reading. I always check the end of the "lesson" and have to often increment it up to "1.0" - as it often shows me at having read only 0.8 or 0.9 although I actually read every sentence in the novel.
I think you can probably count re-reads (fine to keep track separately if you wish as well...that may be interesting to see how it compares) as I thought the paper's suggestion accounted for seeing a word 13x. (Unless I'm thinking of a different metric from a different paper). So re-reading is helping bump that "times seen" of the given words.
Ya considering how one of the most common threads throughout people's language learning methods/advice is "repeat", no reason to not include re-reads into the stats if they are indeed re-read entirely.
That's a good point. Every time I re-read I do see the word again. That's probably good for the third re-read, which I do after I've reviewed the LingQs, but maybe not for the second, which I generally do, with audio, on a per lesson basis immediately after completely the lesson.
^^^^^ this is the paper here - Paul Nation
Ya I had previously aimed at 1 million words read to feel "competent" and it definitely does feel like I am able to keep up in comprehension in many situations in Portuguese at that amount but 2 million is much more likely the "competent" amount for said language. Which matches the estimates Toby has on his tracking spreadsheet, I never read where he got the estimates but I feel these are good mile markers to follow as it has basically matched my experience in 2 languages now up to B1.
I made them up just an intuitive guess :). The real point is it takes twice as between each milestone, and these benchmarks have seemed to match my experience pretty well. BUT, I also think these can vary by +1000%/-90% or maybe even more depending on a lot of factors (agglutinative and polysynthetic languages having long words, knowing a similar language, etc.).
i'm near 5 million words for mandarin (just in LingQ) / 70k LingQs, and while modern slice of life is becoming relatively easy, harder genres like historical / fantasy are still immensely difficult and requires a lot of look ups per paragraph.
but my measure of success is that i don't get headaches from reading anymore and rarely have to read a translation before / during, which is awesome!
I set a random goal of 17 million words (~28m hanzi read) based on that previous research and reading others experience - then multiplying it by 3.5x since i figured mandarin is harder
but my goal of 17 million words isn't "i'll totally be fluent and nothing will be a struggle" - more like if i read that much within another 2 years, i'm guaranteed to become a better reader
after than i'll increase my goal again and try reading 50 million characters (which is still <50 books since chinese webnovels are so insanely long haha)
learning never stops, and i think as long as you pick a language with hundreds of books you want to read, you'll get there eventually
and i like reading multiple books at a time - some easy / some hard. that way you are challenging yourself with interesting content but can also turn your brain off and read some trashy romances :) and feel good about your progress
Also: another point I forgot to mention is the psychology of trying to learn a language.
If you think of it as open ended and that is a burden from the way you see things, you're creating problems for yourself.
Try to reframe it as "you get to use it for the rest of your life as a new language".
Another way to reframe things is to shoot for specific targets that are clearly specified and numeric so they are *not* open-ended. This will give you a sense of satisfaction:
e.g. I want to read the entire twilight series twice during 2022 OR I want to watch the entire "Back to the Lake" series twice with English subtitles, twice with Russian subtitles only and twice without subtitles during 2022.
My specific goals (if that helps):
I want to read the entire narnia series before end of year in LingQ russian.
I want to watch the entire "Better than Us" and "The Method" series with English subtitles in 2022 (done).
I want to get to Advanced 1 before the end of the year (in progress).
I want to watch the first season of "Better than Us" and "The Method" with only Russian subtitles once before the end of the year.
I want to have 8,000 head words fully memorized "mature" in anki.
I want to watch the entire series of "Anna Petrova" russian before the end of the year without subtitles.
^^^ these make it psychologically easier for me to handle rather than no fixed goals.
Hopefully that helps.
That feeling happens too in our native language. Some novels are very complex than others because of rare words / context used. That, however, doesn't mean that you are not competent in the language if you don't understand it. Try coming back to the first lessons you did on LingQ and you will see again that you have become better than when first started.
Also, try refreshing the grammar rules of the language that you are learning. Sometimes a lack of understanding is not that you don't know the words, but the way the word is used in a sentence, like a conjugation, etc.
Finally, remember that LingQ mark as new word a word that is conjugated. So maybe you know 1 word, but LingQ marks each different conjugations of that same verb as a new word. So this means that maybe your words count is a bit inflated.
I still don't :). Mostly because I know the journey just keeps going. It's kind of like getting to the top of a flight of stairs, and on the other side of the door is... another flight of stairs. "Feeling competent" is ultimately a subjective feeling just as known words are.
When is a word known? What is a word? Every language will have different variables causing an increase or decrease in the amount of available "words" as they would be defined in LingQ. With an analytical language like English for example, 30.000 words is a lot of words. But, we also use the words in combinations that completely change the meaning as well! Like "to get", or even whole phrases are arguably a word like, "go(ing) to the bathroom".
Being comfortable reading a novel is going to be the same way. It will vary wildly by intended audience, genre, etc. If someone, with English as their native language, has only read "Teen Paranormal Romance" novels, and then hops into Infinite Jest, they are going have a hard time getting any meaning from a sentence. It all comes down to context and where we have stretched ourselves past our comfort zones into "competence".
I want to reach the Infinite Jest level in my language. It will be hard work but it can be done.
Infinite Jest is literally an Infinite Jest on anyone trying to read a book comfortably. I had to quit that book after 20 pages lol.
It is a wonderful book. Extremely funny, sad and inventive. But you're right that it is not meant to be read comfortably, with all its endnotes and footnotes and difficult prose.
Interesting answers here. I think some has to do with the nature of highly inflicted Slavic languages but also with how we use LingQ.
@Maria2 named all the possible reasons for a disproportional high word count. In my opinion, even though this might describe your case, you don't have to start by 0.
I would try some narrow reading/listening for a time with a clear goal in mind. My strategy would look like this:
1. Import a piece of content you would like to understand easily but still can't. This means normally that a new word count is at more than 15% with a considerable high number of LingQs (10% or more).
2. Leave this content until blue words are around that 5 % with few yellow words. This is a guarantee that you understand it. Well, it should.
3. Now just work your way towards it with easier texts that are likely to use the same vocabulary.
Right now, my goal is to go through all the Czech novels of Milan Kundera. I have already read four of them, with only two novels and one short story collection ahead of me. Then I will have to find a new author who is on my level and also interests me. I find it to be a quite useful exercise to read everything by one writer. You can really absorb their vocabulary, and I am noticing that each novel becomes much easier than the one that came before.
I find the answers here very interesting. I suspect I maybe know well over 15,000 French lingq words, but at 15,000 French lingqs, I can read novels and maybe only have to look up one word every few pages. I am going to try to import a whole Sartre novel and see if Lingq lets me. If I knew all the words in about 10 standard novels, I don't think I would ever really have any necessity to know much more. Has anyone imported novels before to this?
That would be suprising to me at just 15,000 known words, unless you actually know significantly more words and just haven't come across them in LingQ to mark them as known...or you are counting words very strictly (like not every form of a verb).
I think this is perhaps the issue.....but it takes a very long time to read to find new blue words I don't know. I used to dip in and out, a few days in, weeks out, but I have now discovered that 1 hour a day, and focusing on only one language until i get it to about 5,000 words is the secret to it sticking, from day to day, and from one period of activity to a later period of activity weeks later. When I have had only a few hundred words and leave it for weeks, i never remembered anything when I went back to it. Now, if i ensure I get to around 5k, i still know them more or less even 6 months later. Not sure why that is, but clearly there must be a minimum amount the brain must need to be able to hold on to easily.
The reason i would like to try to import novels is that it gets quite wearing reading 1,000 word texts that contain only 1 blue word just so i can then add that word and increase my count.
you can download hundreds of novels (Maupassant, Proust, etc.) from the TV5 website: https://bibliothequenumerique.tv5monde.com/livres/2
However, trying to read Proust with less than 150k words read (at least according to your stats on LingQ) is probably not a good idea :-)
It's a better reading strategy to start with contemporary non fiction texts (Harari's "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus" are my go to books for language learning at the moment) and then switch to contemporary popular fiction such as Grangé's "Crimson Rivers" (Les Rivières Pourpres), etc. before trying to tackle the classics (Proust, Flaubert, etc.).
And reg. your question in another thread:
Yes, you can remove the DRM from Amazon's Kindle books:
Thanks for this link. And thanks also for the info on how to remove DRMs.
I have read À la recherche .... many years ago.
I stopped at 15,000 on Lingq for French only because it was a tidy number, and it takes a long time to read hundreds of short articles that contain only a few blues, or even to find materials that are both interesting and offer high numbers of blues.
I also decided to get the other languages all to the same point eg 15,000 or whatever (totally arbitrary and open to whim) so that at least the whole polyglot thing becomes manageable for me. I had started to feel like it was a millstone round my neck trying to juggle a number of languages, trying to get regular exposure, trying to get equal exposure for each one, trying to obtain the same standard in each, etc, but now I have discovered that Lingq has provided a solution to my problem.
I can get each to eg 5555, or 10,000 or 20,000 or whatever I choose, and then cycle through each language in my list, getting each then to eg 6666 or 11,000, or 21,000, by whatever my chosen increment may be. I like very much that the mess that existed before has given way to order, and tidiness, and confidence in knowing I am at a certain point. My current thinking is that I will probably get the others up to the 15,000 mark as in French, before then recommencing the cycle with French, and adding 1,000 to French, then 1,000 to the next, 1,000 to the next and so on across the list. Over a year, this will make for a very appealing and rewarding hobby.
Thanks again, Peter.
I just had a look at Peter's suggestion on TV5 and totally recommend everyone learning French has a look at it. Great! There are 642 free novels!
"Thanks for this link. And thanks also for the info on how to remove DRMs."
Glad I could help.
"Over a year, this will make for a very appealing and rewarding hobby."
Interesting experiment of "cycling through all your L2s".
Please keep us posted on how this goes for you
and what the pros and cons of this approach are!
I always import novels. My original post was related to reading literature.
Some books I can read just fine. I have been reading a lot of Kundera recently and have no problems with him. With other books, the screen looks like I have opened a different, unknown language by mistake. Just blue and yellow all over the page. What I tried to express is that I have expected to have some kind of big climactic experience at this stage. A feeling of really understanding the language. This has not happened at all. Instead, I have found that there is always the next level.
By the way, there is no chance that you would know all the words contained in 10 novels. Even in novel I can read really well, I lingq about 2-5% of the words. But most literature is even more challenging than that.
What sites do you buy them off to avoid the DRM issue? Someone here said that amazon adds DRMs to prevent them being uploaded to Lingq.
The library of Prague has a huge online catalogue. It is open to everybody. You can just download the EPUB or PDF. I also never had problems importing mobi files that I bought from Czech online bookstores that are not Amazon. Otherwise, the internet is huge and to find some PDF for free is not that difficult.
Thanks very much for this tip.
I'm definitely experiencing that right now with a new book I'm reading. Lots of yellow and blue and feeling a bit lost. This is definitely a more sophisticated book than the ones I've been reading before though.
You may already have tried this - read a page of the same book in your native language, then read it in x a few times, your own again, then read it in x a few more times. You might be amazed how it starts to become clear. I did this with hard Russian texts when I did a degree in Russian, and after about 5 pages things seemed to improve ever so slightly. After about 30 pages of whichever book, I had the feeling of topping a plateau. The rest of the book I could then often do ok with, as each author seems to use a certain range of vocabulary unique to him/herself. I admit, it is slow going at the start and every sentence might take you 10 minutes. I sometimes only did half a page in an entire day but I think it pays off in the end.
I don't do exactly what you're saying but a similar thing and similar experience. I read in sentence mode mostly for these more difficult things. I try to understand the sentence, if I do, I move on. If there are blue words I need to look up, I do so, read the sentence again and see if it makes sense. If not, or I have yellow words I'm not familiar with, I'll do the sentence translation. Then I'll re-read the sentence and usually everything fits in my mind and I "get it". At least at that time.
WIth this one I had also decided I would, after each lesson, read and listen to the entire lesson as a whole, and then go back and jump from yellow word to yellow word looking at each in context again.
I'll make it through. Things were like this the first time I read Harry Potter for the first time in German...and as you point out, you begin to learn the author's vocabulary.
I think it's mostly a bit of bruised ego...The last couple of books I read were pretty "easy" (still needed LingQ help, but not a huge amount--probably mostly in the 5% blue words category), but this one has a lot of new vocabulary for me (back in the 15-20% blue words category). I'm a huge fan of using sentence mode though. It keeps you on track mostly. I also decided to pay for next tier of deepl so I could translate the full lessons and go back and potentially read each in English in case I got too lost even in sentence mode.
I suspect the issue is that it's literature which can be *flowery* in its use of vocabulary. If your target was crime fiction I bet you would find you have almost no blue words at all.
"What I tried to express is that I have expected to have some kind of big climactic experience at this stage. A feeling of really understanding the language. This has not happened at all. Instead, I have found that there is always the next level."
The LingQ known words count is notoriously unreliable (for reasons Maria and others mentioned).
It would be better for language learners to just focus on the "number of words read" or the "number of hours invested".
According to your stats on LingQ, you've only read ca. 2.7 million words in 4 years. That's not much - even in Germanic or Romance languages, which are easier for native speakers of English compared to Slavic or non-Indo-European languages.
Possible reading numbers and possible language levels in reading comprehension (for native speakers of English)
Based on the discussions we had in the past on this forum, I estimate that you can achieve a B2-C1 / C1 level of reading comprehension with the following numbers of words read:
- Romance and Germanic language families: ca. 2.5 - 3 million words read
- Slavic language family (Czech, Polish, Russian, etc.): ca. 4 million words read
- Non-Indo-European languages (Arabic, Japanese, etc.): ca. 5 million words read (or even higher).
However, even a C1 level in reading comprehension isn't particularly advanced for an educated native speaker. So, depending on the text, genre, etc., language learrners will still struggle (a lot) with many texts in their L2.
There are novels that are intrinsically difficult such as Marcel Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu", Robert Musil's "Man without qualities" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Without_Qualities), etc.
Even (inexperienced) native speakers who think that reading such novels will be a walk in the park will never make it to the end.
Then there is specialized literature such as Niklas Luhmann's "Theory of social systems" that even highly educated native speakers on a PhD level and above aren't able to understand - at least "unprepared".
Or, to put it another way: a large vocabulary alone means nothing for such texts, because readers need a great deal of philosophical and social-scientific background knowledge about concepts, methods, and theoretical approaches of the preceding traditions and the contemporary counter-positions - otherwise they are simply "lost".
Adjusting your expectations
"I have found that there is always the next level."
It's not a good idea to become "too obsessed" with stats, metrics and goals.
Just enjoy the ride.
And I hope for you it'll be a wild language ride with fascinating encounters :-)
French has tons of English cognates so you might know a bunch more passively. Czech is slavic (partly) and is worse than Russian in that it has an additional case.
What do you men by partly slavic?
Eh I'm not an expert in Czech by any means and didn't even bother to google but I vaguely recall (and I could be wrong) that Czech has some elements of Germanic languages but is mostly Slavic?
Again this is from very foggy memory probably from a bar-room conversation 20 years ago so take it for what it's worth.
A big thing to consider is one's expectiations or goals. You will hear people in their native language that think they have a low level even though they are very educated vs a common person who thinks their level is good enough or even good. So perception/expectations are a huge thing. I could have 200k in spanish or 400k in slavic languages and still feel like I have some holes if my standard is comparing to my native language, or there are some people that are happy just to understand 85% of native material. This affects heavily the statements of others with things like this. Depending on what you want to conquer think of each type of content as a realm/planet and unless you have stepped into that realm/planet there will be words you don't know. Like medicine for example. native speakers might not know the difference between a muscle strain/tear/rupture or certain diseases etc so just something to keep in mind. Languages are technically endless so good luck.
I wouldn't worry too much if I were you!
There was a member here who had well over 100k known words in German and who felt she was still very much a beginner.
She dedicatedly used LingQ and it got to a stage that she felt that the number of words on her profile didn't reflect her level. She spent time trying to correct her profile to reflect her actual knowledge and in the end deleted her account and started again.
Words known on LingQ can be inflated by proper nouns including people's names, cities and countries - giving a tremendous number of words when you still don't know the language. Imagine counting all city names Paris, London, Stockholm, Luxembourg, Monaco, Berlin, Madrid, Oslo, Amsterdam, Budapest, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, Bratislava, Ankara that are exactly the same in English as the country's language - I haven't started learning yet but already know the 15 words.
Verb forms give rise to many word forms in certain languages. Taking Czech and comparing it to English, there might be a handful of verb forms in English compared to around 18 variants of the verb form in Czech.
Not to mention the fact that past participles used for forming the past tense, passive voice and conditionals are related to the short forms of adjectives and unlike other verb forms, also express gender corresponding to the subject - giving rise to many more forms as there are three genders in Czech masculine, feminine and neuter.
In English, verb forms in the passive voice are simple - just two forms for singular and plural, the gender of the noun not making any difference whatsoever:
"It was bought" vs "They were bought" ("It" standing for any noun and "they" standing for any noun).
So x was bought
Or x were bought
For the equivalent in Czech - please note I do not know anything about the language and have found the below on the Internet - it looks like I would have to lingQ 10 words and remember 8 combinations of those words (as two occur together) for the three English words.
The three English words being "was", "were" and "bought"
In LingQ I would need to lingQ the following words depending upon what was bought.
On top of that, I would need to learn the correct combinations, i.e. byly koupeny, "byla koupena", and "byl koupen" and so on.
The amount of focus and concentration required for all the forms of a single verb in Czech is tremendous. It also leads to a huge word count.
So I really wouldn't worry if I were you.
The word count on LingQ tells you that you are learning and reassures you that you are making progress.
The fact that you may have lots of known words in Czech like our well-known German learner with over 100k words, but feel you are still a beginner like she did is absolutely fine.
There are many different types of language learners on LingQ with many different learning styles and approaches to LingQ, different language learning histories and different perspectives.
Some of the learners who refer to how "easy reading became after getting about 30k known words under their belt" may be spending 3 hours a day with a private one-to-one teacher and another 3 hours a day on self-study. You can bet your life there are some such people around.
Perhaps they're reading leisurely on LingQ from time to time - accumulating 30k known words on LingQ and nonetheless passing A1, A2, B1, B2 level exams in the meanwhile outside LingQ reaching C level exams as their next level. Perhaps they're not it doesn't matter (though the rare few are, for sure, I know that from personal experience).
LingQ away and be happy!
Or not - if you choose not to - the most important thing in language learning is to derive pleasure from the experience and to find an approach that works for you.
It's your experience that counts - your happiness, your achievements, challenges and successes - not anyone's else's.
Good points by everyone. It's good not to compare to others. I think it ok to compare experiences of others and their word count to get a potential "ballpark" figure within the same language.
Also, even if we have the same numbers, because we've read different things, we may have quite a different vocabulary. Perhaps I read only science textbooks and the other person reads fiction. If we both know 30,000 words, I may not be able to read fiction very well, and the other person probably can't read science textbooks very well.
What are you trying to read? On top of the variations in what's "required" for given languages as SeoulMate mentions (Czech I think is one of those that probably is 2x -3x the equivalent romance language?? i.e. 30,000 in Spanish may be 60,000-90,000 in czech??), it really matters what you're reading as well. A young adult book, or maybe some trashy novel won't require nearly as much as some "fine literature". Also, it may depend on what period of time the book was written. Something written in 1800 is going to be sometimes pretty hard to read because of the language differences and style.
For my own experience, at 25,000 words in German, I feel fairly competent with young adult level books. I still need a bit of a help that LingQ provides, but I could probably get along ok-ish without that help and understand the bulk of the story. READING (listening is another matter if going in cold). More "adult" books I have much more trouble that I doubt will be resolved at just 30,000 words. Maybe more like 40,000-50,000.
Very much this. I'm super fluent in Spanish (in that I can function in the modern world). But if I try to read cervantes I bet I would struggle even more than a decade later.
It very much depends on the language you're learning and its proximity to your native language. 30k words in Spanish for a native speaker of French is not the same as 30k words in Korean. So don't be disheartened and avoid comparing yourself to others as you have no means of really assessing how fluent these people really are. You can just take their word for it.
Right. A proximate language you get a bunch of "for free". A distant language you are learning *everything* from scratch. It takes time.
Learning is different for each person, there are people who already feel competent with 30000 known words, the important thing is to keep learning.