Who are some of the most successful / productive LingQ users of all time?
I believe T_harangi is the most successful learner here.
Then hold my beer.
You may well be right, he has good stats, spent lots of time and has a good attitude. But I think it would be very hard to know who is most successful unless you know quite a lot about what they have done outside of lingQ too. Like I´ve said before, I think the most successful you can be at learning a given language in LingQ is when you use it to help yourself reach fluency in all aspects of it. Unless you spend insane amounts of time (and as a result, money) in online chats with tutors, that´ll only happen when you take what you learned here outside of lingQ and into the real world.
I have yet to become all-around fluent in any language I´ve studied on LingQ myself. That is ultimately (or a least potentially, depending on my time and how my situation develops) my goal for each language.
Ha! I don't know about that. But thank you none the less! :-)
I think the discussion here has been very interesting and insightful, much more so than if it had just been about which users had the highest word counts. So though I named the thread in a very silly manner, a lot of good discussion came from it. I don´t have a problem in some of the responses coming a bit off as "in your face" as I think it´s more important to have a meaningful discussion, where people are also allowed to express how they feel negative about what you post, rather than having a sort of "toxic positivity" culture where everyone who doesn´t just post compliments and "great job" comments with heart emoticons perhaps even gets flooded with more negative and harsh reaction than they had themselves in the first place, even if they made good points.
Some of the negative reactions were also obviously triggered by me stepping on some landmines so to speak, which I or some other users who were surprised by the reactions were not aware of, me not having been on LingQ long enough and not having read enough forum threads. I just hadn´t "gotten the memo" so to speak. All of that has been sorted I feel.
As for what it actually means to be successful/productive on LingQ, I think you have the enjoyment side of it, how much you learned yourself and how much you contributed. A really successful and productive LingQ user would for example be someone who was able to use LingQ as a springboard to become literally and conversationally fluent in a new language, contributed material to the site and constructive posts to the forum that helped others learn and of course enjoyed the ride.
Good question! To me, the most successful LingQ users are the ones who enjoy using LingQ the most.
Whilst I get OP is just seeking an accurate list of users with highest known words, I'd also like to echo other comments: it can be counterproductive to solely focus on this, or benchmark against it.
I'll go a step further and throw out the following: the most important lingq user stat, BY FAR, is total number of hours of native content produced and shared with the community.
That's the stat that really separates lingq from everything else., and it is what the real communities within lingq are built around. The 5-10% of users who, over a decade or more, have added to the community libraries, and have created pathways for specific languages to grow here.
I'd encourage everyone to give back to the lingq libraries and think how others new to lingq can more easily go through the learning path.
Lingq should consider highlighting this user stat, and incentivise and encourage it.
Yes! In particular, it shows who is most _productive_, a term used in the OP
I agree. Honouring those that contribute the most in some way is not a bad idea.
You are right. The topic is terribly worded, as I´ve already admitted.
Nice suggestion :)
I would say Ftornay he has a solid knowledge in a few languages and has dabbled in quite a few more obscure languages. Also thank you for mentioning me, these past couple of months has been very hard but that made me really happy.
I´m not sure whether I´m too worried about how good he is at languages. I´m sure he has some talent and passion for languages, whatever his exact level is or whether he prefers to perfect a few or dabble in many. I think he did add a lot of valid points and observations to this thread and that is what I´m most interested in. I agree with most of what he said, but not always to the same extent that he feels about some things.
True, I feel that I'm in a similar situation. I'm not exactly fluent in Spanish, French and German. However, I feel if I'd not rush things then I would probably be fluent by now.
There is no way for me to know where you´d be at if you had done certain things or even to know much about where you are at right now.
I´d generally suggest, if you want to become fluent in every sense of the word, to listen to everything you read, sometimes before and sometimes after you read it. Afterwards is generally better when you are less advanced, but you can also alternate between listening before or after, regardless of your level. When you are more advanced it´s usually better to listen first and then grab what you missed by reading afterwards. Then try to find people to talk to online or in the real world when you have reached a fairly high level on LingQ.
Wow what a post! Very interesting to read about Goodhart's Law. I've definitely fallen victim to chasing stats and comparing myself to others. I had a terrible experience with the fitness app Strava where I found myself obsessing about speed/distance/time and forgot that enjoying the activity is what is most important.
I do however think that it is good sometimes to have goals and have a way to measure progress...everything in moderation I guess.
David Sedaris wrote a funny article about his obsession with counting steps which I think a lot of Lingqers/obsessive types can relate too:
I think you can see something like LingQ or some fitness app as having 2 possible purposes: your enjoyment and your advancement. It could certainly be valid to use either a language app to get better at a language or a fitness app to get fit, even if you don´t enjoy using them. It is much better if you do enjoy them though and makes it much less likely you´ll quit or just use them in an unfocused way. I think the point about Goodhart´s law and the known words count is valid to a fairly good degree.
@pma04mts I very much agree about the importance of goals. My own solution is to set up activity goals, that is, how much I do, rather than result goals, how much I achieve ,because activity is under my control and is sure to give you results, sooner or later. Plus activity is much less likely to turn into an empty number. Of course, I also like to see results and I'm as exciteged as the next guy when I reach "advanced 2" or get to 50K known words but I try to appreciate more, e.g. the fact that I've read a wonderful novel, such as "Master and Margarita" in my target language or I've watched a great film (never mind if I missed a lot of it) or have engaged in an interesting conversation, even if I've made a quantillion mistakes during it.
Great link, by the way, thnks for sharing
Btw, reading Sedaris's article, it occurred to me that the main problem may not be the measure itself (although considering more multi-dimensional variables is certainly important) but our obsession with "top ten" lists and the like.
Consider number of steps as an indicator for fitness, as in the article. Let's accept that it is measured properly, that it is the main form of exercise for a set of individuals and so on, and that it is the only available variable. Ok, we want to predict which individuals are likely to be "fittest" (most "successful") based on that piece of information.
I would argue that it would be those in the upper middle range, not the top ones!!!
Why is that? Well, those with very low counts are not moving, so they are not fit. As for vocabulary size, this is an excellent predictor for low level.
But those with insanely high counts are probably not very fit either! At this range, this is mostly a measure of obsession, rather than fitness, because someone who is walking the whole day is either "gaming" the system or all they do is walk, which is not healthy because that means that they are missing out on key components of fitness such as:
- Rest: for fitness you must push your organism, stimulate it, and then rest so it can recover and get stronger
- Other activities/normal life: you get fit to do something, to carry out a more fulfilling life, to play with your friends/sons/grandsons, achieve great things, not just for the sake of it. You can't have a fulfilling life just by walking all day.
- Other physical activities: walking is all right but you still need more, you can be the best walker in the world and have an atrophied upper body. You need to do more (strength, mobility, ...) even if it is only occasional and is not your main physical exercise.
So, succesful stories are in the middle-upper range: these are people than take walking seriously ad even push themselves over the average but still have time for other key components of fitness and general success.
Word count and other Lingq stats are similar. Low counts show low level but the most successful stories are those of people who took Lingq seriously and even pushed themselves a bit for some time but also engaged in other activities and eventually "graduated" from Lingq and went on to use their knowledge for something meaningful. Depending on the goals, they may either discontinue Lingq use or come back after some time for a new language.
Btw, the OP also implied that learning more languages would be more "successful", which I also dispute. I am much more impressed by someone mastering a few languages than
I think that this idea of "upper middle" supremacy makes sense also based on particular examples for this community. For example Steve has a huge word count, of course, it is his product, he is supposed to test it hard and it is his "job" to some extent. That is all well and good but it would be naive to expect others to have the same type of commitment. His word count in Russian, e.g., is very high (not the highest) but, as a Russian learner, I can assure that there are other Lingq users, with a substantially lower count and who have taken the word accumulation way slower and who have a much, much higher level in the language. I try not to mention third parties but I have some examples in my head. This is no criticism of Steve, he can communicate in Russian well, which was his goal, but he himself admits that his level is so-so, it is certainly not his strongest language.
One last point: participants in this thread have argued that well, ok, maybe known words can't predict overall skill in the language, but at least, they predict high reading ability. I even _dispute_ this. Just as in the stepping example, language learning is a synergistic set of skills. Even some degree of engaging in other activities (media watching, conversation) can _dramatically_ improve your reading comprehension because you engage with the culture, you meet familiar words in differente contexts and wordss that are rare in writing are common in speech, so you may have missed or misunderstood those.
J.L. Borges has a wonderful story about how Averroesjust can't understand Aristotle's "Poetics" , although he has a wonderful command of the language, because his lack of experience with theatre doesn't allow him to "grok" tragedy. He simply lacks cultural context so he can't understand a text. At the time, that obstacle would've been impossible to overcome. Nowadays you can add to your understanding through direct contact with the culture of your target language. You'll never get that is all you do is add word counts:
J.L. Borges had an incredible imagination, thank you for recommending this story!
I like your solution. Tracking activity is probably a truer representation of work done. Master and Margarita is such a beautiful book, I'm motivated to learn how to read Russian in the future just so I could read the original text and other great Russian works of literature. LingQ should consider introducing better challenges, how about for each language we select 10 Classic works which are available on the library and we get a badge for reading all of them.
To continue with the fitness analogy, I went through a phase of wanting to become stronger at the bench press and I used to naively think increasing repetitions would carry over to an increase in strength in the bench press. 'If I bench more I will be able to bench more' basically. And in the beginning that was correct, for a complete beginner simply benching an empty bar more and more times will lead to an increase in strength. But with time, the increments of strength increase will reduce (diminishing returns) until the beginner will have become an intermediate in the movement. In order for the intermediate to continue to gain strength efficiently he must then increase the weight of the bar, which will lead to an increase in volume.
By volume I mean weight x repetitions. Increasing the weight of the bar allows the intermediate to be progressively overloaded, thus leading to further increases in strength.
Soooo, if we look at LingQ through a gym rat's lens we can consider known words as repetitions and consider weight as the difficulty of the text. In the beginning stages of learning a language we will become more fluent (strong) simply by reading lists, lists of vegetables, colours, days, animals etc. But if we want to continue to gain fluency we would be wise to starting increasing the weight on our linguistic barbell by looking at some phrases, articles, poetry, literature.
Strength training continues to be rewarding for me because it has lead me to improve my understanding of diet, biology, discipline, programming and lots of other things.
You touch upon this too. Gaining insight into a foreign culture and acquiring the ability to communicate within it is what it's really all about. It took me a long time to get to 60K known words in Dutch - nothing magical happened when I achieved this but it still felt cool!
If I had to make a greatest hits mixtape of my fondest memories of learning Dutch no LingQ challenge or avatar badge would make the cut. Feeling the depth of wisdom which Anne Frank managed to convey in her famous work at such a young age whilst learning the language stays with me.
Rokkvi, thank you for the post! And I don't think you should have named it any differently - conversation is interesting so far))
It has been interesting, but I agree that the amount of known words does not say how successful you are or have been in a language. I somewhat regret having come off as saying that.
Some great polyglots, like Moses McCormick have used LingQ just a bit, so they will not have high stats but are of course successful language learners. If someone was already fluent in multiple languages and only got high word counts in them, not in any new ones, you could wonder whether they were really that successful in learning anything new.
You could also argue that your success in using LingQ is really how that translates into you language ability beyond LingQ (real life), not your stats on LingQ. I´d have to agree with that.
You could also argue that your success is how much you were able to improve your language abilities considering your situation. So if a great polyglot used LingQ to become fluently literate in one more language and used that as a springboard to then quickly become fluent, you could argue that someone who only ever spoke one language and was already a bit older was more successful in using LingQ if they also just learned one more language through it to the same degree.
Wow I'm a bit surprised at the replies to your post. People are taking your question way more serious than I think you intended. I seen your question as just a fun question. I thought I was going to see a bunch of links to different accounts that have done a great job on LingQ.
(Not that your known words count on LingQ is like this super big thing to be obsessed about.)
I don't know. I read your post as more of a fun thing to take a look at.
Yes I should just have named it "Which users have the highest total word counts on LingQ". The word "success" or "successful" and "productive" is what I should have left out, but then again I have maybe it´s good I kept it in, because it sparked some interesting conversation here.
I do think you can say one has had success in increasing their known word count, as long as they actually worked for it (didn´t just flip pages without reading or used a web client program etc.) but I agree that on it´s own it´s a poor measure of your total ability in a language.
The activity rating is probably quite a lot better to look at for motivation, as it´s more balanced.
I agree know words count alone doesn't reflect your total ability in a language. But it does show your potential in that language. Know words count and amount of words read show how good of a reader you are. Which carries over into how good your listening comprehension could potential be.
It´s an indicator. It´s not completely meaningless.
Just to add my take to this: SOME of the people here with very high numbers of known words also exhibit some odd behaviors on the forum that makes me believe they're either at the higher end of the autistic spectrum, or dealing with some types of personal issues and are using languages as an outlet for that. (Not all, but certainly some -- and I'm sure you've all seen the examples.) So, I don't really view high word counts in and of themselves as something to admire -- especially when those word counts are accompanied by forum posts that I find questionable.
To be perfectly honest, something along those lines was also on the back of my mind when I read the OP. I don't want to single out anyone or judge anyone's behavior, because we all struggle at times, much less risk a diagnosis. I have a lot of respect for everyone here, independently of any quirks they (or we?) may show.
However, you're absolutely right that obsession with social-app stats, especially if we attach terms such as "success" or "productivity" to them, can be terribly unhealthy.
This is in fact one of the main problems of glorifying obsession and unreal measures. They don't work as a real measure of progress, they are detrimental to real success in language learning but, above all, they can even get in the way of a healthy life in the real world.
Let's use language learning for what is really supposed to be: communicate, get to know new cultures, new people, new ideas. We'll connect with the reall world and be healthier and happier as a result.
Let's not turn it into mindless word counting or false bragging points on an app or we'll get the exact opposite results.
I think you are right about that. I´ve seen some posts like that where it´s a bit like people are using the forum as therapy. But that is one of the things I find interesting: Who are the people with the highest word counts? Are some of them on the autism spectrum? Are some cheating to get there? Are some a little narcissistic? Are many of them people who already knew the languages well? Are many from countries where there are many official languages, like Switzerland? Have many learned languages from just about scratch when they started them on LingQ?
I am also on the autism spectrum myself and that makes me have tendencies to get somewhat obsessed about stats in this exact way. I get stuck on having to reach certain known word goals, levels and even items for the silly avatar and just have to reach them before being able to move on. Then I get new goals into my head and this can be hard to break out of. So I do have some of those perhaps unhealthy tendencies and I do think being on the spectrum makes it more likely for people to fall into that cycle. Not that this is purely bad. It does make you learn quite a lot too, just a little too one dimensionally.
Your ability to read a language is obviously just one aspect of you total ability with it. You could certainly read one perfectly without even knowing how any of it sounds, you could even do it if you were literally deaf and mute. I´d like to focus more on listening and especially conversing and interacting, but the sound on my PC is problematic right now, using the mobile phone is not as convenient, arranging online chats with ppl to learn is more involved than just getting online and learning whenever you want, meeting ppl for real is even more involved and sometimes hard in the times of Corona etc. Just need to kick myself in the behind.
I must confess that I fall into a few of the categories listed in the first paragraph. I started learning languages at community college (Spanish, French and German) a few years before I discovered Lingq.
In Finland we have two official languages Finnish and Swedish and should maybe have even three (Sami languages) according to some. I tend to be obsessed with stats as well, although in my situation it's more that I put ridiculously high pressure on myself to succeed.
t_harangi & ftonay, would you mind emailing me at email@example.com, cause I´m curious to ask you about something that should probably not be discussed in the open forum.
LOL they don´t let you put emails in the threads, my bad.
I've posted a private message on your profile
Thank you. I did not know you could post them as private.
I really should have just named the thread "... which users have managed to accumulate the highest total numbers of known words". The word "successful" seems to have annoyed a few people here.
Who has been most successful in languages or just used LingQ most successfully is a whole other and much more complicated topic. Ditto for how much or little the know words count has to do with one's actual ability in a language.
It has not "annoyed" me, and once again, the naming is not important. I am just pointing out that using the wrong metric for "success" results in distortion and misconceptions.
Lingq stats simply are not designed to compare between people or languages. As a measure they are not "reliable" because different people will declare a given word as known based on very different criteria and even do it differently at different stages (not to mention that what is offered as a possible word is highly arbitrary to start with, try Japanese). They are also not valid because they are very bad predictors of language competence.
The term "success" implies a previous goal. The fact that you used it shows that you _do_ think that one of the goals on Lingq is maximize stats and not only that, but do so in relation to other users. Just thinking of it in those terms is incredibly misguided. My point is about that, I really advise you and all users not to mistake means for ends.
Besides, you wrote:
not successful in general, which is hardly possible to measure or even qualify that well.
Meaning that you think that the availability of a measure may at least partially make up for its indequacy. This is simply not so, and I say it is mostly a case of "Nasruddin's logic":
To sum up. I'm not "annoyed" and I don't think the naming of the thread is o any importance. It is just thaty your post really suggests that you are assuming a couple of ideas which, to my mind, are both wrong and harmful, and also, all too common.
You invited comments, so I commented about this topic as candidly as I could.
Being annoyed is no crime anyway and I have no problem with you giving your opinion and think you have made some valid points.
I do like to have some goals to motivate me to learn. Maxing known words stats is one way to do it, even though it´s limited and mostly helps with reading ability, less with writing ability and much less with speaking and listening ability. You can lose yourself in the word count (or other stats) to a degree and that can indeed be counterproductive to you learning the language as best as you could. You could neglect speaking, listening, writing for sure. Then again there´s the question of what is available to you. Not everyone who has LingQ necessarily has the same options of interacting with others, from Corona problems, to bad sound on your computer to slow internet connections etc.
I agree that you can´t compare word counts between people to accurately know which one knows the language better, not even as far as reading goes. If someone is already fluent in a language or far along in it at least, but haven´t been reading it on LingQ for long, the count is obviously going to be too low. Same thing if they are only using LingQ a bit here and there and mostly learning through other methods. Also, like you pointed out, ppl will have different ways of marking words as known. Some are more eager to do it, some ignore names, foreign words, compound words etc. while others add them. The occasional weirdos even cheat and just spam in known words. Thus if you want to compare word counts between people to have an idea who is more advanced in reading, you´d need to know other things about them (sometimes their other stats would give an idea) and even then the comparison would be a rough estimate.
Even with that, I think people who have honestly gotten to high word counts, 40K+ are very, very likely to be highly literate in the language. If they have 30K+ in multiple languages, let alone very high numbers like 50-70K, without cheating, they are highly likely to be skilled language learners and could be called "successful". It interests me which users have such stats for a number of reasons. Who are these people, where are they from, what languages did they learn, what drives them, are some cheating? ... and so on.
This link you posted is somewhat off actually. The word count (as long as you actually work to achieve it) does to some degree correlate positively to one´s ability in a language (at the very least the ability to read it), where having better light in a place where nothing is to be found correlates 100% negatively with finding things. If I had, say, the goal to learn Ukranian on LingQ, but only read Spanish instead because there is more material in Spanish, or wanted to learn Faroese and would still use LingQ to do it when it doesn´t have Faroese, because I think LingQ is effective to learn languages in general, then the comparison in the story in the link you posted would hold much better.
The lost key story is a metaphor. As all metaphors, it is not supposed to be a perfect match. Of course, counting words to measure "success" is slightly less absurd than looking for a key elsewhere just because it is lighter. But _slightly_ is the key word here. The point of the metaphor is that you're fixating in a measure just because it is readily available, disregarding how inadequate it is, which results in wrong conclusions and undesired results.
If you want to get a bit technical, number of know words (real ones, of which Lingq only provides an estimation) are a good estimator of _low_ level in a language, not of a high one.
That is, vocabulary size is very predictive at low numbers: e.g. if you only now a few dozens words in a language, it is clear that your level sucks. As vocabulary level increases it becomes less predictive. For example, someone with a 1000-word vocabulary is very probably better at it than someone with 500. However you can't say anything about the comparative level in a language of one person who knows 50,000 words and another who knows 50,500 (same difference), it's even very probable that the first one has a higher level. For example you can expect many foreign, well-educated speakers who can understand a lot of techical vocabluary in their expertise domain but who are way less competent in the language than less educated native speakers.
Anyway, this is a reflection on real vocabulary size. LIngq stats are another matter entirely for reasons that we have already discussed, being much less predictive, in particular for comparing speakers, even less if you do so across languages. For example, someone who comes to Lingq, read here for a time, as they keep on listening and speaking the language. then after they get to a good level, goes on to read unassisted and use the language in real life to become a very fluent speaker, would have a low count. I would consider that case to be the best example of a "success" story. Certainly over your stat maximizing idols.
Anyway, besides the inaccuracy, the main problem with your leaderscore approach to language learning is the effects it ends up having on learners as mentioned above.
The bottomline is that, because of its diminishing predictive power and its bias towards pure stat maximizing, at very high levels, Lingq stats are mostly a measure of obsession, not level.
It´s obvious that the straight difference in ability between someone who speaks 50K words or someone who speaks 50,5K words is less of a deal than if it were 0,5K and 1K. It is much more interesting to compare proportions, as in the difference between 15K and 30K as opposed to 30K and 60K. I think in LingQ there is a bit of a point with the known words count where you are fairly fluent, around 40K for most Western-European languages perhaps. After that you are mostly adding rare words, names and such. So yes, having 66K compared to 44K mostly just tells you the one with the higher count has spent more time reading and/or read more varied material. That again makes it more likely they will retain more of their known words too, so it is of some value.
I understand you think talking about or especially glorifying people with high counts may encourage people to learn in ineffective ways. That is a valid point of view and probably true for most people. I however, feel I can do both: get high stats and learn a lot. I certainly don´t look at any of these users as my "idols". I think some of them probably have a lot of ability and have done well and been dedicated, but I don´t really know them and I certainly don´t idolise any of them.
" As a measure they are not "reliable" because different people will declare a given word as known based on very different criteria "
Ha, this is true. I'm learning Japanese and most of the time, if I can READ the word I automatically make them known...it's a habit that started in the beginning and I've just gone with it. Even if I don't fully understand the word itself hehe.
Last time I checked, the purpose of this site was to learn languages!!!!
Successful users are using and enjoying the language/s they've learned, travelling, meeting people, creating something, contributing to society, ...
Someone obsessing about how many words they accumulate in an online app is, at least in my book, not successful, and even less productive.
This is one of the most egregious cases of Goodhart's law I have ever encountered
The thread should have been worded differentldifferently. It should really say ".. most successful on LinQ in terms of total known words", not successful in general, which is hardly possible to measure or even qualify that well.
My point is not about naming. It is about the "logic" behind this line of reasoning.
There is a strong tendency to take whatever available stats there is, no matter how arbitrary or how restricted it is in use, and turn it into an ultimate measure of "success".
This is quite absurd and ultimately harmful for the whole process of learning.
All Lingq stats are useful as a measure of personal progress but outside of that frame of reference they are absolutely meaningless. They don't measure any kind of "success", however you want to phrase it. The goal is to learn languages. Your number of known words on Lingq is a incredibly poor measure for that and fixating on it will only harm your progress.
Essentially, this makes as much sense as trying to find the best modern mathematicians by the number of Khan Academy videos on the subject they have watched.
I disagree that most successful people are necessarily those with the highest number of known words.
I would rather be interested in people who have the highest reading and listening statistics, because it shows their time spent here. Known words mean little as someone can add words like crazy, especially with auto paging, but then not revise/delete them. After all we forget a large portion of acquired words, so the question is whether a given person updates the real number of known words.
In my case I often delete known words if only I hesitate a moment with their recognition, but still I don't trust my statistics.
You are right and I should have worded the topic differently, like "who have been the most successful in terms of known words?" You are also right that people can have low standards regarding when to count words as known or even just cheat, flip pages without reading
Quite remarkable numbers from these people. I wonder how many hours they've spent on LingQ. Or what their language backgrounds look like. Did they grow up speaking multiple languages at home? Did they know these languages prior to coming to LingQ. I don't think i'll ever pursue that many languages. I love learning languages, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reach fluency. I think reaching fluency in listening comprehension and reading comprehension in a few languages is good enough for me. And in 1 language shoot for fluency in all areas.
I am sure some knew some of the languages quite well before they began with LingQ. Check out Kristiansand's Spanish stats though, he seems to have started at a low level and just put an incredible amount of time and effort into it.
You can see some of the stats that indicate how much time people have spent on LingQ, like read words and hours of listening. You can often get an idea of how much they knew before starting by seeing whether the lingqs to known words ratio is low or not.