How Long are you Spending Learning/Studying per Session?

DistractingMoose us United States

Hello everyone,

I hope you all are having a great year so far. I wanted to see what everyone’s thoughts were on how each of you break up your studying / learning in terms of time spent per study/learning session.

Obviously, there are a few factors that can influence our average time spent learning.

Your current level in the language – In my experience, the more skilled you are at your target language, the less strain it has on your mind and therefore the longer you can study / learn at any given time. It also happens to be more fun when you are at a higher level which can keep you going for longer periods of time.

Health / Rest State Your current condition can affect effectiveness though much of the time we may not notice this. How much sleep we are getting, our hunger status, emotional state, and other factors can be an influence.

Type of study activity – Another factor is what we are doing in the language… such as listening, speaking, reading, or reviewing grammar. Depending on the activity, how straining it is, our skill level, and how motivated we are can impact our average study time.

Personally, I have noticed that as my language skills have improved, the time I can spend learning has increased. That said, a lot of studies have shown that human’s capability to concentrate effectively really starts to exponentially decrease after 15-20 minutes. Thus, if we are studying for hours and hours in one go we are reaching a point of diminishing returns.

Speaking – I can do 1-hour conversations pretty easily but after that I find my mind starts to wander.

Listening – After 15-30 minutes, my concentration and effectiveness starts to decrease.

Reading – 15-45 minutes similar to listening. My reading skills are better than my listening skills and so if the material I am reading is interesting I can go for longer.

Grammar – 15-30 minutes.

I have been trying to break my study sessions into shorter bursts and I believe it has been helping a good amount. Sometimes, we are motivated to study longer and that’s great but as a whole I really do think our effectiveness starts to decrease past the hour mark.

What are your thoughts? How long do you study/learn for or maybe it’s simply random! :D

Have a great week ahead, stay positive and enjoy the journey!

January 08 at 16:54
  • Swedishfinnpolymath fi Finland

    For me it's mostly at random, around November last year when Finland qualified for the Euros for the first time in their history a lot of things clicked. I have tried all kinds of methods to get to where I want to be. Life has been difficult but getting back to the topic I needed to do something to change my life.

    Over the last month and a half I have worked on a feel what you do basis as long as you do what you do intensively. There are certain huge task that I need to get done by a specific deadline. I am certain that I'll reach them especially with my method. I should note that everybody is different and circumstances do factor in as well. But I've set out a few task that I will need to work on such as.

    Learn grammar of several languages well (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and a few Romance languages)

    Write interesting articles on topical events and other similar stuff

    Prepare for taking online gymnasium classes in Psychology and Philosophy

    Since I have so much to do and a time limit what I do is that when I get in the mood of doing something I do it until I start to get tired with doing it or need to focus my mind elsewhere for ideas to flow freely again. I might seem like a lot and a very stressful task but I've manage to get a lot done by simply do what I want when I want as long as I'm committed to doing the task probably and effectively.

    The reason this works for me, I think is because I'm the sort of person that gets really exited and committed to one specific thing but once the energy levels go down I either need to rest completely or get exited about something else.

    The moral of the story is: Know your strengths, find a way of utilizing them and apply them.

    Part of the reason why I'm doing this is because I want to help people learn less studied languages and that's why I'm starting a website with the aim of helping people learn them. It should be up and running around March-April.

    January 08 at 18:08
    • Buz gb United Kingdom

      HelloSwedishfinnpolymath,

      I admire your ambition and focus and as I get older I want to learn more - I'm 68 now. Can I learn a second language? I wonder... should be able to, and yet I am struggling after a couple of months with Spanish. Damned flashcards are hard work. Baffled by verbs, word order, pronouns...

      I strongly believe that it would be wise for me to invest time and possibly money in learning how best (for me) to learn... so as not to make such hard work of what should be an enjoyable hobby and be less likely to throw the towel in due to lack of progress... arrrrgggghhhhh.....

      Peace and love...

      January 10 at 09:04
      • Swedishfinnpolymath fi Finland

        I think it's admirable that you still at the age of 68 have decided to learn a new language. I agree that flashcards are a hassle and I don’t find them that useful if I’m honest. I can understand that verbs, pronouns and word order baffles you. I love verbs so I tend to study them first but I can understand why people struggle with them. I have a couple of advises that I hope will help you and encourage you to keep going.

        If you have no prior experience from language learning and you have only studied Spanish for 2 months then I think it’s perfectly normal to feel that you aren’t getting anywhere. My first piece of advice would be to first focus on stuff that feels easier. Of course, it varies from person to person but I’d say that verbs, pronouns, prepositions and adverbs are the ones that people struggle with at least in the beginning.

        I would focus first on nouns and adjectives the which nouns take what gender can be a hassle but there are a couple that are so common that by reading and listening you’ll absorb them without noticing it.

        In terms of how to overcome difficulties and not giving up there are a couple of things that I feel would be good to keep in mind. No matter at what stage you are you are likely to feel frustrated at some point. One thing that I learnt last year was that emotions can be deceiving. I would get frustrated at the fact that I could not understand a certain grammar point and rather than take a break and get back to it latter I would wallow in a lethargic state of mind far longer then I should.

        When I feel frustrated, I try to remember to ask myself, why do I feel this way, when was the last time I ate, am I worried over something else. I think no matter what the reason the best thing to do when you start to feel frustrated is to take a break.

        In terms of specific rules, I think it’s a bit tricky for me to explain them in a way that doesn’t sound that I’m just listing things without rhyme or reason. I would say however that plural of nouns and adjectives are quite strait forward so that might be a good place to start in terms of grammar.

        The website that I am planing was first aimed at helping people learn less studied languages but I have decided also to cater to people who are not has experienced language learners but still at a affordable price.

        I plan to include a detailed free guide on lots of stuff that has to do with getting started, what parts of speech to study first, tips on how to tackle verbs, things I wished I'd known when I started, etc.

        January 10 at 16:48
        • Buz gb United Kingdom

          Thank you so much for your very useful and comprehensive reply. I will be casting an eye over it again but I am glad that you agree with me about the flashcards - some of them seem to take forever to learn, some phrases are just too challenging!

          I think your advice about why we feel low and to learn to take it in our stride and take a break makes great sense. Dammit... we are learning and we're not machines. I tend to be very hard on myself and must change this mindset.

          I like the sound of your website and would venture to say that perhaps older and less experienced learners need to be steered in the right direction from day one - perhaps eased more gently into the world of language learning.

          Thanks again mate. Much appreciated.

          January 10 at 18:05
          • aronald us United States

            Buz, keep plowing ahead. If youre already at 1500 words then it won’t be long before you start making breakthroughs. These happen for each language at different points. With Spanish I remember things got considerably easier at lIke 3k-5k words. Then another breakthrough happened near 15k-17k. It really doesn’t take many words to be able to read news or sports articles in Spanish (maybe 7k-9k?). Plus I’d say things also get considerably easier once you get passed the first 5k words because the language then starts to become more similar to English with remaining unknown words unless you get into adult fiction books.

            PS, I also agree that flashcards are not necessary. I used to do them before starting LingQ and never went back. Now it’s just read read read.

            January 11 at 17:30
            • Buz gb United Kingdom

              Hello Aronald,

              Thanks for the pep talk - I appreciate it. I can hardly say a damn thing in Spanish! ... and yet I am beginning to be able to get a slightly better grip on reading. it seems to me that understanding the written word in context is a damn sight easier than trying to put English thoughts into Spanish words! ... but I will certainly plough ahead and I think that Buena Gente works for me. I'm really not sure if I know 1500 words but I am revising my attidude to learning a second language - I must stop comparing myself to Steve Kaufman and others who've probably been brought up with other languages... and I must accept small, incremental improvements, otherwise I just feel like a fool. When I look at the big picture it's just too daunting - so I won't!

              From now on I listen and read and no more flashcard nightmares for me!

              Thanks for your kind support - it helps a lot.

              January 11 at 20:04
          • cheska99 us United States

            I agree on the flashcards, too. At first I wasted time studying them but the I paid attention to what Steve Kaufman is always saying and realized that encountering the words in reading was much more effective in learning them than reviewing flashcards--and much more interesting.

            January 13 at 19:30
      • cheska99 us United States

        Hi--I took up Italian 6 years ago when I turned 65. It was tough at first but has gotten easier and easier and I'm sure it's helping to keep my brain agile. For the first year I was just working on my own with grammar books but then I got a teacher with whom I take two lessons a week on Skype and things got better faster. Now I'm advanced (C1) and reading my favorite Italian novelists faster with each new book. Stick to it, you'll be glad you did!

        January 13 at 19:28
  • LILingquist us United States

    I’m not sure how long I can “endure” in each activity, but how good I am, how much I understand, how interesting the topic is, and most of all, how tired I am all make a difference. 30-45 mins is probably the most I could handle in doing actually “study” ie learning the grammar and reviewing flash cards. The activities I focus on (reading, listening, speaking, writing) is largely random, or at least dependent on what I am trying to improve. For example, when I was trying to improve my listening, I would spend most of my time watching Spanish Netflix shows. Though technically, I would say it was divided between that and reading because I was reading the subtitles in Spanish at the same time as listening to the dialogue. During my 90 Day Challenges, I would say the lion’s share of my learning was spent reading.

    January 08 at 19:57
  • aronald us United States

    I typically find that my brain doesn’t even hit peak performance until like 45 mins into my session. Then I’m usuaully running pretty well until about 3-4 hrs. Then after that I start to fall off. Rarely do I read for 3+ hrs anymore these days due to time constraints.

    January 09 at 05:03
  • ibn_rushd nl Netherlands

    Between 13-18 Lingqs each day no more (as a rule) except in the weekends where I do nothing.

    I've been doing this since November to get the fun back into learning. Maybe I'll bump up Russian to 25 Lingqs in February. I do three languages, but I do notice it gets easier each day and I only want to increase the daily Lingq's I do when I am really hungry for more.

    There was a time I tried to do 500 known words in french each week. But after like 3 weeks I was trying 1000 known words and just kept pushing myself till I just stopped.

    January 09 at 10:04
  • jonesjack gb United Kingdom

    My personal daily routine is as follows

    Listening 2 hours (This is done when I am not working, driving, eating, cleaning etc etc )

    Reading 1 hour (I have two 15 minuets breaks at work in this time I read, then on my lunch break I will read for a further 30 minuets)

    Speaking 0 hours (I will very soon start speaking in Portuguese a lot more as I need to improve my speaking)

    Grammer 0 hours (I will start to do more of this once I have absorbed more of the language)

    January 10 at 08:29