Lingq Success Stories?
I am using LingQ for Italian.
About 2.5 years ago I met an Italian and fell in love with him. This past January I moved to Italy to marry him (wedding was in April). I had been using Duolingo on and off since he and I met just to try to learn a little of his language, but I really wasn't getting anywhere, I could name most common food items (fruits, vegetables...) and animals, but I couldn't really make a complete sentence.
I found a Facebook group for language exchange shortly after I moved to Italy and started to exchange English for Italian with different people from the group using video chats. I also would attempt to talk to my husband in Italian. I love my husband, but he is not the academic type and if I wanted to learn how to build a house, he could teach me that, but he is not capable of teaching me Italian- he will correct my pronunciation or verb usage and help me with a word that I don't know in Italian, but he can't sit with me for an hour and teach me.
One of the people I was working with told me about LingQ, at that point I could maybe have a 10-minute conversation before I ran out of words that I knew. I checked out the site and started with some of the beginner lessons. I liked the set up and felt that it was helping me a lot with adding to my vocabulary, so after about a month my husband and I agreed that I would pay for one year.
In the 3-4 months that I have been using LingQ I have gone from barely able to speak any Italian to speaking at about the level of a 2-year-old. My grammar is far from perfect, but improving, and the people I speak with tell me that I am easy to understand. I am immersed in the language though as my husband and I are living in Italy. I teach English online as a job and do language exchange lessons with several Italians to improve my Italian and their English, so my immersion is not 100%, but we watch TV in Italian and most of the people around me only speak Italian. My comprehension is still kind of low (I would say 50-70% at slow speeds, much lower at natural speeds), but compared to closer to 10% when I got here a big improvement.
I do lessons almost every day, some days when my husband and I have been out all day and I have been in full immersion for the day I will just set my playlist to play while I do other things to keep my streak, but most days I listen to my playlist for at least an hour while I do other things, do one or more courses, and the review at the end of the lesson(s). I have not used the writing forum yet, but I do intend to at some point but right now I know that my Italian writing skills are not good because I want to spell things using English phonetics rules (the quizzes at the end of the lessons show me just how bad my Italian spelling is...).
LingQ is definitely not my only resource for learning, but it is the one I consider my go-to for self-study, and I do think that it has helped me a lot.
Best of luck to you!
I went from zero Spanish to passing a buisness level Spanish interview and gaining a 10% Salary increase within 12 months.
I started Spanish some years ago then stopped and then picked it up again this September. It might be too early to comment on my current level, but I can share something that made a significant difference between how I used LingQ years ago and how I use it now.
LingQ is just a tool. It helps with making input comprehensible, but then a lot depends on what you do with it. It is too easy to keep reading more and more just by clicking on blue words, and perhaps that strategy will get you somewhere, but it is like driving with GPS all the time. Your brain never learns the routes because it doesn't have to. What I found to be the key to learning with LingQ (and any other tool for that matter) is spending sufficient time on reviews.
Steve talks about it all the time. You have to listen and re-listen (as well as read and re-read) those mini-stories (and really anything you add to LingQ) dozens if not hundreds of times. My new mantra for language learning is: Brain craves novelty but it needs repetition. So make sure you dedicate a lot of time to reviews. That was the biggest game changer for me.
I absolutely agree.
I cycle through my material a lot. And every time when I come back it gets easier and easier. I probably end up reviewing 80% of the time and getting new input 20% of the time. It might even be 90%/10% or higher.
When I'm starting to get bored I get a new thing and then I repeat some lecture I had a while ago that I'm interested in again.
I was reminded by Azarya and Twelvedesign, that I probably have the % a bit skewed. See comment below. :)
My experience in both Japanese and French has been the opposite to be honest. I only started making real progress once I quit "reviewing" . Reading new content became the review itself as I kept seeing the words in all contexts (old and new).
I never used lingq as an absolute starter though. My opinion might be different if I were to start from the very beginning.
I think the problem with too much review is you get a false sense of success. It quickly evaporates once you switch to a new material. There ought to be a good balance and that is a highly individual thing.
Hmm.. Interesting. Thanks for sharing. :)
I'm studying Russian at the moment and watch a new episode of Spongebob almost every day. More often then not I don't repeat it.
I guess the % are a bit skewed as I don't record the time watching movies or series in my target language but only the things I do here. Thanks for making me reflect that. :D
I also agree with the post of twelvedesign, a good balance is key.
In the beginning loads of repetition is great and further down the intermediate path repetition goes down and new stuff gets more interesting.
At least that is how I feel.
I just keep it where my interest goes. If I want repetition I do it, if I want new stuff, I do that. My main thing is to keep having fun and keep absorbing material.
If I lose interest mid paragraph I just change to something I want to listen to/ read through. Zero shame.
You 'naturally' review the most common words and phrases by reading novel material. The frequency of words follows Zipf's Law, so most materials have the same most frequent words. At the start (as a complete beginner) I relistened a lot and reread to some extent too, but now that I'm about lower intermediate, I find that my brain becomes complacent with lots of reviewing of material. It gets boring, my brain shuts off, and I just don't concentrate very hard. When reading new, novel material, I have to concentrate much harder to understand what is going on. Even if you pick lessons with very low new words (like 5% or something), your brain still has to concentrate harder because the most common words are jumbled in a different order because the story/content is different. Your brain learns how to use those same words in different contexts. And, as the plus, you very slowly learn new words at the same time.
In fact, I'm thinking that because I always only listen to content, which I've already read, my brain does not expect novel content to come from listening. So on the few occassions, where I've listened to novel content first, it is suprisingly hard! Like I have a hard time. My guess is that my brain became somewhat complacent during my listening times over the many months, because I already knew the story (like reading, as mentioned above). I'm now thinking that my brain is not used to novel audio content, so I may need to train it and start listening to novel audios, as opposed to audios I've already read. Idk. Just a thought.
EDIT: Or maybe the listening content was too much above my level, so take it with a grain of salt.
I talked about this a year ago, but I have not slowed down (even if I have not been on LingQ much in the past few months).
But I went from just starting in Swedish and Norwegian (A0-A1 at that time) and maybe an A2 level in German to in the past week: I taught my Swedish class, met a retired geology professor from Germany who invited me to a networking group he organizes (in German) and met an Author/Biographer from Hamar who gave me her card (no idea to what end).
The path is long, but if you continue to challenge yourself, you will continue to get better.
To put it as succinctly as possible:
- At first read and listen to familiar things trying to understand as many words as possible -- this is a natural SRS.
- Eventually move to free flowing R+L.
- Have conversations, write and get feedback. Use that feedback.
- Layer in small amounts of dedicated practice, study and SRS as you get comfortable.
This video is not directly about language learning, but I think it is very applicable for those that have no seen it.
compared to the other "success" stories with AudioReader software (LingQ/ReadLang), SRS (Anki, Memrise) and the input-oriented method , my results in Brazilian Portuguese are "mixed".
I started with Br. Portuguese on LingQ from scratch in spring 2020 and I've invested 1300-1500 hours in Portuguese so far.
I can understand
- podcasts for intermediate learners such as Revisteen (for teenagers), Fala Gringo, etc.
- non fiction text / audiobooks, e.g. "História da riqueza no Brasil [History of Wealth in Brazil]" (https://www.audible.de/pd/Historia-da-riqueza-no-Brasil-History-of-Wealth-in-Brazil-Hoerbuch/B09W9Y71F1?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=86298143-6994-4968-8277-2e2391d86bbd&pf_rd_r=5RT5SQ9DHNDSXN0NKS8X#) unassisted
- the news of BBC Brasil
- more academically oriented talks such as these on (international) "security policy" by Heni Ozi Cukier: https://www.youtube.com/c/HeniOziCukier/videos
without any problems.
However, I still struggle "a lot" with Netflix shows, YT vids, etc. where a lot of everyday language is used. And my speaking / writing abilities are completely underdeveloped because I wanted to test a pure "input-oriented approach".
From a language learning and teaching perspective, I've come to the conclusion that a "pure" input-oriented method in itself is not convincing because the level of intensity / engagement with the L2 is far too low. And it's also not a good idea to postpone more intense speaking and writing activities for more than 1000 hours of input.
Instead, it's important to increase the level of intensity and discomfort as early as possible by speaking / writing / "active" recall activities using authentic material and getting early feedback by native speakers. In short, the idea based on deliberate practice is :
"do more intense / uncomfortable / harder things with less using appropriate feedback mechanisms".
I compare this to my teenager years when I wanted to become a pro basketball player.
I could run 10 km at a slow pace without any problems. And one day, I ran even more than 40 km on a beach in France - just for fun.
However, for an intense basketball game at a higher level, simply running more is useless. Instead, you need to run less and focus more on uncomfortable exercises like regular short sprints, hill sprints, high-intensity interval training, explosive jumps, etc. - at least if you really want to be well conditioned for high pressure basketball games. Otherwise, you'll collapse within minutes!
My thesis is that it's the same in SLA: just listening / reading more and more (being comfortable) is like jogging at a slow pace and then hoping that you'll survive a highly intense basketball game (well: you won't!).
That is, it's probably better (at least if a high level of fluency and / or literacy is your L2 goal) not simply to increase the exposure time (in the sense of a "mass immersion approach"), but to increase the level of L2 intensity (as early as possible).
IMO, that's why Will Hart's approach that Michilini presented here a few weeks ago (see: https://www.lingq.com/en/community/forum/open-forum/full-interview-this-medical-st) is successful for reaching a high level of fluency in Mandarin in a relatively short amount of time: it's intense deliberate practice!
Personally, I still think that "ultra-reading while listening" (URL) is the most time-efficient input-oriented method there is , but I'd couple it with such an intense deliberate practice - and maybe start with the latter first before switching to URL.
Interesting post :)
-Even if doing hard and uncomfortable things was better, the biggest problem most people have is being consistent. When I correct my students, write down corrections and turn them into flashcards, they usually don´t touch them and tell me they were busy when we start our next lesson. When students start getting compelling comprehensible input (LingQ, graded readers etc.), they invest more time more regularly, simply because it´s less of a pain the neck.
-Getting input is easier to do while doing chores, exercising, getting groceries, going for a walk etc.
I´d argue that unless we´re talking about highly motivated people with a lot of time on their hands, you almost automaticcaly end up with an input-heavy approach. If I remember the post you mentioned correctly, even the author said sth. like "How many people actually do this?"
"the biggest problem most people have is being consistent"
When it comes to processes of practical skills acquisition (sports, language learning, entrepreneurial skills, programming, math, etc.), learners have "many" problems, e.g.:
- no strong "why",
- no SMART goals
- wrong attitude (learning has to be "super-easy", "super-fun", "super-fast", bla bla bla).
- many cognitive biases (Dunning-Kruger & Co)
- no habits
- low frustration / discomfort tolerance
- avoidance behavior, esp. the tendency of avoiding challenging things)
- rushing forward blindly not knowing what one is doing
- being surrounded by the wrong people
However, "consistency" isn't one of them. Why? Because it's a consequence of the issues mentioned above.
unless we´re talking about highly motivated people with a lot of time on their hands"
No. Wrong perspective, wrong attitude and completely wrong approach! :-)
Learners should never rely on fleeting operations of the mind (feeling like it, motivation, fun, etc.)- at least if they want to master a practical skill.
However, if they do, they'll create countless problems for themselves:
- discipline/willpower issues
- fluctuations in motivation
- being ruled by emotions
- struggling when things become uncomfortable/challenging
In order to avoid all those self-created problems, it's better to rely on seven things:
1. a strong "why"
2. SMART goals
3. a habit-based learning style (see B.J. Fogg, "Tiny Habits" - for the establishment of such habits) based on more or less intensive time-boxing (Pomodoro & Co)
4. The habit of getting comfortable with the comfortable.
5. A flexible mix of practices (e.g. for SLA: grammar light approaches, pronunciation training, input oriented approaches, deliberate practices, etc.)
6. The right learning material
7. The appropriate learning tools
And that's your "basic receipe" for having success in all processes of practical skills acquisition (but, of course, we could add a few other things to the list as well: for example, a network / community of fellow learners, tracking tools, etc.).
BTW, there´s no contrast "habit" versus "fun" because the simple habit-based idea is:
- If it´s important to you, do it regularly (if possible: every day!)
- The more the habit is established and the better learners get at their practical skills, the more comfortable they´ll feel and the more fun they´ll have because they can play with the practical skill they´re trying to acquire.
The main advantage of a habit-based learning style then is (just to make sure that this point is crystal clear): it makes learners independent of fluctuating motivations, emotions, will, discipline, etc.!
BTW, that's also against Master Steve's idea that language teachers should mainly be motivators (see one his recent LingQ posts), which is from my teaching experience in SLA, math, and programming also the completely wrong, because teacher- and motivation-centric approach.
Instead, (language) teachers should act as coaches and mentors who help people become independent learners who can acquire practical skills effectively and efficiently on their own.
Nowadays, we need more and more this type of learner because only such learners are well-equipped for "lifelong" learning.
However, I've met many people in my life who said that "lifelong" learning wasn't their thing. Unfortunately, these people either have no future in the job market, especially if they want to be knowledge workers, or they have implicitly chosen to disqualify themselves...
Totally agree with this!
"you almost automaticcaly end up with an input-heavy approach"
Yes, I agree. Time constraints are definitely an issue for many people, esp. adults.
However, there's a difference between "input-heavy" and "input-only" :-)
The more language learners include self-talk, artificial SRSes, speaking and writing activities in their general "input orientation", the better they'll get in their L2s (and, when it comes to writing, even in their L1 :-) )
The problem with "input-only" isn't that it's completely passive, because that 's impossible. Rather, the problem is that reading/listening are (pattern) recognition operations in which the degree of engagement with the L2 is less than in speaking and/or writing activities in which the language material is "used" (which, of course, requires pattern recognition operations).
[Nota bene: the distinction "recognition / use" (or something similar) replaces the traditional distinction "passive / active" because there's no completely "passive" listening (or reading)].
In short, reading / listening is mentally less intense than speaking / writing. That's why it's a good idea not to rely exclusively on an "input-only" approach.
But how you do that as a "busy bee" ... well, that's another story :-)
I´ve used deliberate practice to work on my Englis pronunciation (learning the IPA, learning about pronunciation, usually monitoring my pronunciation while speaking, feedback from natives etc.) but it was a lot of work... probably not good advice unless you´re aiming (unnecessarily?) high.
Whatever you did it worked. The first video you sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The second video you sound like a university educated Euro-dude who has been in Canada/US for several years.
It's not like we can make an unbiased comparison when he has his gorgeous German mug splattered all over the second video.
Lol. I think even the 2013 Video is better than most accents I hear from my german/austrian colleagues when they speak english, so I think the accent really wasn't that pronounced in the first place... Very unlike Schwarzenegger. :D But great job with the progress!
My thesis is that it's the same in SLA: just listening / reading more and more (being comfortable) is like jogging at a slow pace and then hoping that you'll survive a highly intense basketball game (well: you won't!). That is, it's probably better (at least if a high level of fluency and / or literacy is your L2 goal) not simply to increase the exposure time (in the sense of a "mass immersion approach"), but to increase the level of L2 intensity (as early as possible).
Wait, are you saying that you can't get a high degree of literacy in Mandarin without speaking? I respectfully disagree... (god the amount of internet slang I encounter...looking up words in baidu > talking to a random language exchange partner about your pet)
There's an entire community of webnovel fans that have a high degree of reading & listening comprehension and only do reading & listening & SRS and barely any output.
And doing a lot of listening while reading an audiobook (like Steve recommends) has been the most obvious boost to my listening skills recently. Not doing "drills" (ugh)
If you want to speak, practice speaking, but if you don't care about it's perfectly fine to ignore, better to just read and listen a lot to enjoyable content.
I think part of the argument is that even "just reading" or input we will naturally cap if we simply remain comfortable. Even reading and listening are skills that require intention and some amount of dedicated practice to get better at.
If the goal is bring input to a high level, near native, whatever. Then we still have to keep pushing us beyond our comfort zone. Reading things that are more challenging or more actively engaging with what's being read.
"Reading things that are more challenging or more actively engaging with what's being read."
Ultimately, it's about finding the sweet spot between challenging and overwhelming.
Exactly. The "N+1". Challenging ourselves just beyond the comfort zone.
After a point with literature where the language is no longer the barrier, then I would challenge myself to think about the work critically. Not just what happened, but what does it mean or what was the author trying to say?
Critical Lenses can be a great exercise for those who want something to get started with.
Literature is not generally best taken at face value or a simple summary of events that happened. Crime novels or YA fiction can be great fun or escapism, and a great means to break into a new language, but they do not typically challenge adult readers much.
"Crime novels or YA fiction can be great fun or escapism, and a great means to break into a new language, but they do not typically challenge adult readers much."
Couldn't agree more.
I like Stephen King novels ("It", "The Dark Tower", etc.), for example. For learning American English, they're great. However, they're not intellectually challenging.
If I want to read something challenging, I'll read novels by Thomas Pynchon, etc.
It's the same in other languages...
Besides, a problem with "popular" fiction is often that it contains too many clichés. For example, I love World history and European history and, a few months ago, I wanted to read more about Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.
The books by historians like Chris Wickham or Peter Heather were great, but when I switched to a novel about Aetius/Attila, I had to stop reading after about a hundred pages because I couldn't take it anymore.
Yes, I know my mantra is "get comfortable with the uncomfortable". But if I want to bang my head on my Kindle because the novel is so intellectually depressing .... well, I guess I'm still too "soft" mentally :-)
Maybe listening to 100 speeches by Donald Trump, watching 100 flat earth videos on YT, or reading 100 Doc Savage novels in a row will make me stronger. :-)
I want to see how you write English after 100 Trump speeches.
"I want to see how you write English after 100 Trump speeches."
MEGA = make English great again... because the real downfall of the American Empire began in 1066.
Since then English sounds like French with the wrong pronunciation :-)
I am not a stoic, so I won't advocate that discomfort is a good thing in-and-of itself. So the discomfort of listening to 100 Trump speeches with a goal of learning good American is not advisable by any measure.
"MEGA = make English great again... because the real downfall of the American Empire began in 1066.
Since then English sounds like French with the wrong pronunciation :-)"
Decolonising Enlgish? This is an idea I can get behind.
"Maybe listening to 100 speeches by Donald Trump, watching 100 flat earth videos on YT...." - I actually started a language exchange with a brilliant polyglot who turned out to be a flat earther. I was in utter disbelief. Goes to show you can be really smart in one field and utterly dumb and delusional in another. I gave up talking to them very quickly since there is only so much an aspie like myself can take of that kind of nonsense before I totally sperg out.
"are you saying that you can't get a high degree of literacy in Mandarin without speaking"
It depends on what you mean by "high degree".
Based on my experience in quite heterogeneous academic disciplines, I take the following position regarding literacy:
- Good writers are always good readers.
- On the other hand, not every good reader is automatically a good writer.
- Being able to write well about a fiction or non-fiction text often means that you become a much better reader of that text. That is, reading for pleasure tends to be more "superficial" compared to reading analytically for writing purposes.
- Being able to write well means:
1) writing a lot
2) deliberate writing practices (e.g. by imitating great authors)
2) getting feedback from experienced readers / writers
In short, you may develop an ok or even good reading comprehension both in your L1 and L2 with a "reading (while listening) only" approach, but your degree of literacy will never be "great" without any writing activities.
Mutatis mutandis, the same is true for speaking and listening: if you want to achieve a high level of fluency, then you have to practice both. Listening alone (with or without reading) isn't sufficient. But, of course, some learners are happy with just developing their listening comprehension :-)
Apart from that, orality and literacy influence each other, but that's another (more complicated) story that leads directly to linguistics and communication research (see, for example, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/LANGUAGE-OF-IMMEDIACY-LANGUAGE-OF-DISTANCE%3A-ORALITY-Koch-Oesterreicher/ad68532d173ffbfe66eda7983b9fc534e7bb55ef).
"Good writers are always good readers."
I've always been a pretty average reader, at least in terms of speed and accuracy, since I read quite slow and misread quite a bit. However, I write like William Shakespeare and George Orwell spitroasting an angel.
I started using LingQ back in January 2017 after trying so many other methods to learn German. Nothing seemed to work until I stumbled upon a Steve Kaufmann video one day that changed everything. One problem, more than anything, was the cost of using LingQ. However, I used the free features and eventually ended up winning one of the LingQ challenges which allowed me free premium access for 90 days.
Within 90 days, I understood more German than ever. I quickly reached a B1 level and eventually transitioned to B2. After that experience with German, my vigor did not stop for language learning! I later learned six other languages, mostly through LingQ, in addition to regularly meeting with tutors.
Now, I am a C1-C2 level German speaker, and I am studying law in a German university (in German). These languages, learned through LingQ, have already opened up so many doors for me, becoming an integral part of my life. I know think, live, and dream among a plurality of languages, many of which I would have never though about learning previously. The comprehensive input method really works, and LingQ simplifies the whole process. I will always be grateful for Steve Kaufmann, the LingQ team, and the volunteers who have contributed to make these lessons.
I recently took a formal course conducted by a reputed private language school in Dortmund, Germany. It is also an official test center and also prepares foreign students to pass an official test and be eligible for their studies and citizenship requirements.
I scored 100% in reading and 80% in writing aimed at the B1 level and the teacher complimented me for writing good essays in the official exams as compared to the other 15 students in the class.
All of this with zero preparation, just winging it.
By Luck, I got a chance to read test samples for reading aimed at the C1 level. At my current statistics, I could understand them with 80% understanding. Reading passages were directly taken from an academic journal, so to speak. I think if I reach 6 million words read I should not have any problems securing a C1 level in reading in the official exam under timed conditions. At least for the German language.
The biggest surprise for me was how minimally I had used Anki for vocabulary memorization/acquisition perhaps a couple of hundred sentences at best.
LingQ definitely played a great role in achieving a 100% score in reading.
Considering what I wrote above about the relation between "exposure (time)" and "intensity", I wonder - at least if you want to study at a university in Germany and/or work as a knowledge worker in a German company - if it would not be a better use of your time to focus much more on speaking and writing.
I remember the day my aunt showed me a letter she received from family in Germany. I read it at once. She was astounished because she studies german from several years and had difficult on reading, and I was just a year only reading at lingq.
LinggQ helped me tremendously with French, Czech, Russian and Japanese :)
A most detailed description of your experience with LingQ. I even read it too the end!
Well, I read the other posts and felt like I don´t have anything to add.
I used a speaking/grammar course for 6 months and hopped on lingq and since then its been about a few years now and I would say I am fluent in Spanish whatever this word means I can watch shows, listen to stuff on youtube, and speak with natives. Obviously if I want my Spanish to be similar to my level of English well then I will need another 7-10 years of doing the same thing, but I have only used lingq to read and youtube to listen. The ability to import whatever into lingq is literally magical and it allows one to get more out of there reading then one otherwise would with a greater rate of speed. So I can say with absolute certainty without lingq I wouldn't have gotten half as far as I have gotten. I plan on doing the same thing with Korean once I conquer a few more domains in Spanish and iron some things out over the next year or so.
I honestly think that 7-10 year thing is probably accurate. I've been watching lots of Disney/Pixar movies lately, and although they're for kids, they're not for beginners. Same with the Harry Potter movies and audiobooks. This is content for native kids, it isn't dumbed down (although they don't translate the slang into slang which makes it easier).
I kinda start to feel like I'm getting fluent if I spend too much time watching that kind of stuff, same with YouTube videos from people who speak clearly and don't use difficult vocab/sentence structures. Then I go and try watching a soccer match with TL commentary and I can barely pick out half sentences, let alone understand what's being said. It's taken me many hours (probably 1500-2000) of listening to understand what I can understand, yet I'm still unable to understand more than about 25% of sports commentary, and it's the same with native shows/movies. This language learning business is definitely a very long term project, haha.
Agreed it did not happen overnight even for natives. I recently took a German language course in a private language school in Germany for the sake of having experience. Our teacher told us the kind of speaking fluency you were witnessing from her it did not occur overnight. She was 29 years old, born In Germany, studied it until high school, studied German language as a degree now she was teaching it.
I would say I'm at about that level of comprehension as you have stated. The things I miss in speech are extremely mashed/fast sentences with 5-10 words
(this is hit or miss depending if I know all the words or not, but at times I will know all the words and still miss half of it)
If I don't know the words in something I will miss it.
Loud background music will make things a lot harder.
The weird part the I see though is you have listened for 1500-2000 hours? Is this mostly passive? I have recorded everything I've listen too in lingq and I only have 150 hours (I don't count dead time so if something is overtly hard I minus that from the time or if there is a chase scene I don't count that) basically I count most tv show episodes for 80% of the time I watch them so a 20 minute episode would be 15/16 minutes (the amount that they talk is another thing I consider) so maybe I'm at about 250 hours on like a normal persons scale, but your hours are incredible. My main problem I see is acquiring sound files for all the words I know (knowing how they are said in real speech) like podemos = said as po' emo'h with the d basically silent and no s etc. Then it just comes down to how many words, structures, and sayings I know which take forever to learn lol there are ridiculous amounts of ways to express the same thing.
I can hear a lot of the words etc but with fast spanish if the meaning doesnt immediately pop in your head then it gets skipped over this is in contrast with slow spanish. So I would say it goes from noise > hear the sounds > the sounds give meaning > hear the sounds and get meaning with background noise > and maybe a terrible quality phone conversation is the hardest (in english it would one of those you have to ask what at least 5 times) these are like the levels of listening (vocab can reset any of these down to 0 if not all words are known etc)
I agree with the sports casting (ufc in Spanish besides obvious stuff is pretty out of reach for me. I guess it would also help to know all the vocab which I am currently too lazy to look up atm but still background noise + excited speed from commentators + having to follow visually what is happening while listening to it etc.
I saw asad's numbers and was surprised too, to some extent (mostly that I hadn't seen that many hours recorded by anyone On Lingq, except maybe one person). Asad is in Germany though, I believe, so he probably has lots of opportunity to watch and hear a lot of things and I think he's mentioned he watches hours and hours of German TV.
I'm also surprised at the low number of hours you have. I'm at 350 or so hours for reference at 25,000 "known" German words. It's actually probably quite a bit higher as I have two German TV channels and so I'm watching at least a half hour to a few hours a day on top of whatever listening I'm doing. I do sometimes record the hours/minutes if I'm fully attentive. So I'm probably well over 400 hours. I try to listen whenever I can, which is usually while doing chores (cleaning dishes, cleaning litter, feeding cats/rabbits---things that don't require decision making). Or listening while driving. Usually not much where I'm 100% focused on listening (I'd probably fall asleep).
In any event, if you're comfortable where your at (still improving listening) then I might not worry about it, but I'm guessing a lot more listening may help (if you can fit it in). Which is always the trouble, finding time.
You have a lot of words read though, compared to myself so I think that can help tremendously. I know people say you have to listen to get better at listening, which I agree, but I also think it makes sense that if you can read and understand the words quicker..."speed comprehension", then that would help with listening too, as you know the words better and quicker.
I'm definitely fluent in Spanish. I have more than a decade and a half since I first learned it. I can understand any given book and guess the meaning of words from context with almost 100% precision every time. I can think in Spanish. I can tell jokes in Spanish. I get *most* humor: I can understand standup comedy. I have an almost Mexican accent. I can understand all youtube channels. I think I'm probably functionally equivalent to a Mexican 9th grader.
BUT... I can't completely understand *everything* in *every* movie and can't *completely* understand every single speaker in netflix shows (e.g. ecuadorian speakers) even though if I met the same person in real life I would have no trouble understanding them and them understanding me on *any* topic. I do, however, understand 90% of what is said even in the case where I miss some things. Otherwise if it's e.g. a Mexican I understand them completely close to 100% all the time.
So what gives?
I think once you reach an acceptable level of fluency and you *feel* fluent then you stop pushing for more vocab and more exposure outside your already large comfort zone.
There's also the thing that even in native English speakers, when hit with someone who speaks a different dialect of English (e.g. Welsh or South African in my case) it is sometimes hard to follow just because they are far enough off of what you are used to.
Anyhow, yes, it is not really possible to get to native level in a single year (of a couple hours a day). Though it is very possible to get to low intermediate in a year.
I spent many years messing with Duolingo, Mondly, the odd class, many books. Not much went in. Perhaps I knew 1000 to 2000 words.
I'm roughly 220 days on two streaks of LingQ and am up to 4500 words which are probably more solidaly known, although I am generously loose on what I consider known. It built up roughly in a straightline but with fast and slow periods.
I'm reading Harry Potter by bilingual text and audio. I know the story and am in a sense skimming it. I aim to read a few thousand words a day, ideally 5,000. I use mouse or keyboard macros and sentence mode. Roughly 1 in 100 words read stick. That's not rapid but it seems consistent and I'm pretty happy that it approximates the comprehensible input approach. Slowly, I hope to build to 8000 words and then work on my listening and then conversation. I find Greek horrendously slow to go into my brain so at least this is progress and other methods had serious flaws (too much discomfort).
I feel you. Spanish went into my brain easily. French less easily but still easily. Russian has been like hammering nails into rock. And then after a few weeks if I stop hammering the nails fall out.
The learning process is pretty similar for most languages but the lack of cognates to individual sounds as well as words makes it a grind.
That said, in my estimation it's still 5X faster than a child does it. So there's that.
Just wanted to thank to all who posted their success stories. LingQ works! They give a lot of motivation to all of us who want to achieve our goals in language learning. :)
When I had a beginner level of Spanish and working toward having a conversational / intermediate level of Spanish I stumbled across the videos of Steve. His approach to language learning just made a lot of sense to me. I started to use LingQ and at first I started off with basic content such as "Who is she?" or short beginner stories with audio. It was kind of challenging because you start to see a lot of new vocabulary and if you are unfamiliar with all the verb conjugations, you kind of start to enter a new world of PAIN haha. However, I found it fun to save new words or get that satisfaction of clicking on a word that I previously did not know at all and mark it as known.
I eventually started to import all kinds of content from news websistes, journals, YouTube videos with subtitles, etc. Stuff that interested me. I am now on year 6 of learning Spanish and I actually live in Spain. Spanish is now a part of my daily life and people always comment on my high level of Spanish. Many times they don't even know that I am from the United States. All I can say is that without LingQ, I would have never reached such a high level of Spanish in such a relativly short amount of time. I have since then studied other languages here on LingQ and I will gladly continue to do so.
LingQ is not 100% perfect and should not be your only resource of language learning but it is truly a gem that can take you very far.
I'm not sure what you would consider a success, but this is my story:
When I started using LingQ I wanted to read books in foreign languages. I only had intermediate German and French, and in my country that is as high as anyone expects to get who doesn't live in a bilingual family.
Since using LingQ I have read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (and others, but that's always my starting point) in German, French, Russian and Japanese. Mandarin or Spanish will be next, as soon as I get fed up / bored / overambitious.
Conversationally I'm hesitant in all languages including my native one. But I can read books now, albeit ones I'm already familiar with. If I had picked one language and stuck with it, rather than running around in LingQ like a kid in a sweet shop, I might be on "War and Peace" by now ;-)
Thanks. How many LingQ words do you think is needed to read Harry Potter comfortably? I have 4400 words and have accepted that I don't know several words in most sentences.
Well, an actual vocabulary of 9 000 words is supposed to be the starting point for HP. However depending on the language you are learning there can be a multiplier effect. Russian is so highly inflected that a word may be in your LingQ vocabulary 10 or 20 times over, with different endings. If you know 98% of words on a page you can read comfortably without a dictionary. If you know 85% you can chew your way through with a lot of dictionary lookups. Less that that and you probably need a bilingual version so you can keep comparing your target language with the same thing in your native language. All of which, of course, LingQ now provides.
I'd be surprised if HP was 9000 words because it's a kids book.
9000 words will get you 99% or higher comprehension for any given text.
It's more like 5000 words for 97%.
But tbh if you're reading in lingQ, 3000 words might be enough because it gets you 94% which is a relatively easy lift since all you have to do is click on it.
That said, you're right about a very important point: lingQ counts all forms of a word as a word. So as you correctly pointed out, a word might not be a word as far as the research is concerned. On the other hand, it's relatively easy to get the gist even if you don't know the new ending based on a previously learned different version of a word.
Actual stats (for English) can be found here:
I started learning Mandarin on LingQ around September 2019 at first using it just a few minutes each day. At that point I had been learning Mandarin on and off in my spare time for around two years and knew a few hundred characters but could barely string a sentence together.
A few months later when Covid hit and we went into lockdown in the UK I began using it intensively for several hours a day. For the first time in 2.5 years of learning I noticed my comprehension skills were noticably progressing.
This had a big impact on my speaking confidence too. By the summer of 2020 I could hold conversations. I was by no means fluent and I later discovered that my tones and sentence structure were truly awful (often bordering on incomprehensible) but I was having conversations in Chinese and that in itself was thrilling.
I then spent the following year continuing to use LingQ almost every day. During this period I read several novels and listened to tonnes of conversational podcasts with transcripts. Overall I read about 700,000 words on LingQ. If you add in the stuff I was reading off the app it would come to more than a million. The difference between my comprehension skills before I started using it and when I stopped (around Spring 2021) was, as you'd expect, huge.
Something I can't stress enough is that spending all this time on LingQ reading and listening to content did *not* in itself make me fluent in Chinese. After reading a million words and listening to hundreds of hours of content I could just about get my message across in most situations using a strange form of foreigner dialect Chinese. However, LingQ did give me the comprehension skills which laid the foundations from which I could become fluent.
That is what I have been focused on this past year. I have stopped using LingQ but continued to immerse in content outside the website. Meanwhile my main focus has been on improving my tones, pronunciation, sentence structure and overall conversational abilities, clocking up hundreds of hours of conversations with native speakers.
I am now conversationally pretty fluent and LingQ did play a significant role in enabling that to happen.
Very short version. I started LingQ at the end of 2019, being fluent in IS,EN,DK,SE,DE and being able to read children's books in FR. I used it like there was no tomorrow and got to over 60K known words in FR,NE,NO and spent somewhere around 300 hrs listening.
This year I ended up guiding my first two full day tours in Norwegian, which went pretty well. I also, because of a serious lack of French speaking guides ended up guiding two short tours in French. I did get told by one tourist who my French was "painible" even after telling them at the beginning how my French would be quite limited and it was my first day guiding in it, but I was able to get my ideas across. Now I am often able to hold conversations with French, Dutch and Norwegian speaking people I meet here in Iceland.
LingQ was definitely a huge part in getting there. I just want to warn learners about a few things
1) Don't get too stuck on the known words count. I know that can become like a game where you obsess about the score or even beating the high score, but you must not ignore the other aspects. Make sure you listen a lot too, try to write or even find people to converse with online. 2) Make LingQ your springboard to real life language use. Move on from LingQ eventually to reading books and just conversing with people. You can always come back for a bit here and there, but LingQ is not your end station in language learning.
I decided to learn German starting with zero experience and no knowledge of any other languages. Absolute beginner. Didn't even learn it at school.
To motivate me I watched an episode of a TV series in German right at the beginning - naturally I could not understand a single word and had to rely on subtitles. Fast forward to a year and a half later and I came back to that same series - I could understand it and enjoy it without any subtitles and it was a huge milestone for me. I can now read physical books in German for pleasure - occasionally I'll still come across something or a turn of phrase that I need to reach for my phone and google translate for but those occasions are getting fewer. I feel I'm now at the stage where I'm sort of polishing up my German. I've even done speaking exchanges to get conversation practice and can discuss a variety of subjects. It's boosted my confidence immensely.
Now that I know that I can learn a language I've starting tinkering with other languages too. The confidence helps a lot. If I'd had more confidence to start with I think my German would have improved quicker too. Stay confident and good luck on your journey! :)
Yeah the confidence gained from learning one language cannot be understated.
I learned French after Spanish just to see if my new method (audio first) would work. It did. I tackled Russian next. And although it has been a harder lift (at least 2-3X slower for vocab to stick) it has definitely worked. Which is unbelievable to me. I can understand Russian: Holy crap!!!!
I don't if you can call my stories "LingQ" success stories completely although LingQ is definitely a large component. I have gone from non-functional French (can't read it, can't speak it, can't understand it) to able to understand this guy, can speak it slowly and can read reasonably well young teenage novels with no problem (harry potter and narnia type stuff):
I have also gone from zero russian to I can slowly and painfully read harry potter and narnia type stuff and can understand this guy pretty well though I can't barely speak it. So yeah:
Thanks for the links! Nice resources. I watched the French one until the end and had a few good laughs :)
I've been using LingQ mostly for Russian from a barely-passing B2 that most likely fell to B1 since testing due to prolonged lack of use. I'm on a grind to 100k (Current: ~85k) before I take my ТРКИ III test, which is the equivalent of C1. I feel more and more confident with reading but I still lack some oral and speaking skills that need to be worked on outside of LingQ.
Aside that, LingQ has largely empowered me to no longer really need it (ironically enough) as there are virtually no average newspaper articles or "general audience" television that I don't understand. If we talk about niche specialties, slang, or perhaps some regional dialect then I don't know nearly as much. For example I really struggle with classical literature and reading on plant biology, but I have no problems listening without subtitles to the anime I've been seeing lately. Pokémon? Easy. My Hero Academia? Pretty easy. Кухня, Слуга Народа, To The Lake, etc.? Without subtitles about 60%; with subtitles about 90% and basically comprehensible without but minor annoyances.
I've been rather quiet for being ranked 21 (22?) on the Russian all-time leaderboard because I don't want to be a bother, but this question really inspired me to answer in the hopes of providing perspective to lower levels.
So in conclusion, am I C1 yet (from a WEAK (low passing) B2 before using LingQ)? No, but I'm very, very close. While weak B2 or even B1 me might've said that in arrogance, I say this with confidence now.
Also to clarify, I won't be seeking my ТРКИ III immediately after I hit 100k. But that's the vocabulary marker for me where I think I'm ready to stop. I've done the practice tests but seem to have missing audio so I can't tell you how I'd do on that portion. The vocab's about half to three quarters there for me but can register as incomprehensible without additional context at times, and I've had some friends and family review it as having only minor mistakes in phrasing, register, tone, etc. that will be hammered out better by speaking to Russian speakers more.
This is very motivating. Good for you. My own method is lingQ plus anki plus youtube.
I also find netflix pretty difficult: my two shows are "better than us" and "the method" which I think are likely close to "to the lake" in comprehensibility.
At the beginning I couldn't understand either "better than us" or "the method" at all.
Now I can understand bits and pieces but I'm nowhere near your level of 60% with no subtitles. I'm more like 20-30% at best without subtitles.
One experiment I did that helped though was read the transcript in lingQ and then watch. Kirill Karo is hard to understand for some reason. I don't know if he has an accent or he mumbles but I struggle with him.
I also think this is motivating. I am mostly working outside of LingQ and struggling to get to where SnoLeopard was in Russian when s/he started with LingQ.
IMHO, this is the ideal way to use LingQ. After the initial 4 years of high school or 2 years of university introductory courses. I minored in Spanish in college and it was a real struggle to get beyond the Intermediate mid level that I was stuck in. If LingQ had existed in the 90's, I have no doubt things would have been different.
Sno, any recommendations for books in the low / mid Intermediate range in Russian? т.е. легче чем Гарри Поттер.... спасибо)
I would also like to take the ТРКИ test. Have read through some material for the ТРКИ I and it seems fairly easy. But I can only write block letters...
I'm reading the narnia series. Set in the 40s so a bit dated but probably about the same level as Harry Potter.
In German, I started LingQ after going through the "A1" course on Memrise (this specific course is no longer available for new users). In Spanish, I took 3 courses in Spanish in High School. In college I took level 3 Spanish (requirement for my degree to show this level).
I've been working on German here at LingQ since 2017, so about 5-ish years. Probably the first year I was still doing a few other things and wasn't solely focused on LingQ. I'd say for at least 4 years I've primarily and almost solely been using LingQ, and/or the principles behind it.
Noticeably I'm probably a bit slow to get to the level I'm at compared to others. I've probably averaged about 10-15 minutes of reading a day and about 10 min a day of listening (although currently I do a lot more listening...probably 30-45 min a day). If I were to have spent a half hour or an hour a day I'd be much further along, but it does show you that with very little time spent per day, you can make a lot of progress. You just have to change your expectations if your time is limited.
I'm currently at about 5000 words away from having achieved "Advanced 2" on LingQ. I'm at 24,334 known words on LingQ.
LingQ has been tremendously helpful. I'm able to read at a pretty decent level. For most native level books and news I do need some handholding (what LingQ is for), but I can understand so much more of these items than I could before starting at LingQ. I can read a Harry Potter level book and understand most of it (nearly all). Plenty of words I still don't understand or remember, but the bulk of it I'd understand.
Listening, I do have more difficulty than reading for sure, but it too is so much better. I can fair pretty well watching documentaries to where I understand the gist of things, but most certainly missing some nuances. Native level shows are still a struggle. If I REALLY concentrate I can follow, but there's still a fair amount I'm missing. Still, better than when I was a beginner. The Easy German Podcast, which they put at a "C1" level I can understand a fair amount overall, but also miss a fair amount. I believe I just simply need a lot more listening practice than I've done and that's why nearly all my listening time is spent in German (while driving, washing dishes, etc + watching German TV nearly every day).
Writing and speaking. Admittedly I have not practiced these much and are definitely a struggle. I feel like I can speak about a lot of things, but my language is simple and probably full of grammar mistakes. These simply need more practice. However, despite this lack of practice, it's amazing to me how much I've picked up through reading and listening and could say if I wanted to...despite the faults and lengthy pauses.
In summary, I don't think I'd be anywhere close to where I'm at without LingQ. I just simply would've given up at some point. Using LingQ makes language learning fun. I can read and listen to things I enjoy, and where I don't understand things, LingQ helps clear things up...and incredibly you learn as you go through this process, WITHOUT doing SRS or Anki drilling. (You can do these things if you enjoy them, but are not necessary).
For inspiration I suggest watching Steve's videos on youtube. To me they were a great motivator and convinced me that you can learn a language in this manner.
Chinese learner here from semi-beginner that took lingq seriously on August 2021. I was basically close to beginner A1 at around "5000 known words" which could be about 500 genuine words due to the way they count words. At the moment, I am able to watch and listen to most youtube chinese content after a lot of continuous hard work of 100 "known words" and 4-8 hours of listening everyday. Keep pushing and be patient. I was impatient at first but it worked out as time goes by.
I started using LingQ about two months after initially deciding to learn Mandarin. I used mostly Anki to learn initial vocab & basic grammar, which for I think you have to do to learn chinese characters efficiently.
I did read a lot of graded readers outside of LingQ & continued to use a lot of Anki for +1 sentences, but beyond that (and watching lots of chinese dramas) the vast majority of my time has been spent reading & listening in LingQ.
In the beginning, I imported in a lot of children's stories & typical language lessons. I was able to start reading (very slowly) native books about six months after I started learning Mandarin / four months after starting LingQ.
I can now read a lot of novels (my primary goal) at anywhere between 93%-97% known words and my day streak is 541 at about 3.8m words read (~12k pages?) I did pick content above my level (historical fantasy with flowery prose), which I think slowed down my learning, but whatever...I enjoyed myself. :)
I'm very very happy (though I still have a long way to go to native like reading proficiency) . Without this site, I guarantee I would have not made the progress I did and I might have gotten frustrated and quit.
The consensus of language learning seems to be "consume a lot of interesting comprehensible content" and LingQ basically makes it possible to do so - nobody starts out able to read books at 98%.
I've been using lingq for 60 days. I'm studying French. I can now struggle through science fiction, I can read a few news articles without using lingq. I'm currently at 12k words. I have no aptitude for language learning and have no previous experience in French. But you get out what you put in. It's more like a gym membership than anything else.
This is good to read. I'm learning Spanish, and I can't wait to be able to struggle through a novel one day.
I can't wait to struggle through a novel! What was your level when you started 60 days ago?
I did a few weeks of Duolingo before that. But honestly probably not even A1. By struggle I mean I read the sentence, some sentences I understand immediately others I have to translate one or two words. Then I reread the sentence. Sometimes I still don't understand it, so I then translate the entire sentence, then reread it again.
It helps if what your reading is interesting. It's quite tiring to do it this way but I can't be bothered reading graded readers.
I started reading French on LIngq at around a word level of 12k. I started making progress when I struggled through my first fantasy novel. I picked a fantasy book with, I think, about 8 books in the series. After reading 5 books in about 5 to 6 months, I had a word count of 25k+ I think, and was comfortable reading the series rather fluently - being accustomed to the author's style and vocab.
I've been studying French with Lingq now for about 1.5 years I think, but with some breaks in between months as I get stuck reading boring stuff and lose my drive. I'm not yet where I want to be, but can manage reading French books without using Lingq.