A little stuck. Help!

Hi everyone,

Thanks in advance for your advice. I have been learning German for a little over 4 years now. I have learned virtually everything I know on Lingq and only spoke with tutors a little bit during the first year. Input through reading and listening really is king! I occasionally have the chance to speak with Germans and they are always pleasantly surprised at my ability to express myself and how well I understand what they say despite not having ever lived in Germany and despite not having a regular tutor. I have Lingq to thank, as well as Steve, for all the amazing advice and tips he gives on youtube. It’s all because of him really!

However I am now finding I am a little stuck and I am thinking maybe it’s time to change my learning style. In 2019 according to my Lingq stats I read 184,000+ words (including reading two novels on Lingq) but my known words went up by only 1182 words. In general, I never re-read anything. Just like Steve I move on to new material and expect natural repetition. However, now that I’m at 15,000 or so overall known words, the law of diminishing returns means I’m not getting that natural repetition anymore.

I can understand podcasts and read articles off Lingq and I can carry on conversations fine. So how do I take my German from this intermediate level to advanced? As things are now I’m really not improving as much as I used to; I used to have a sense of “wow, I am better now than I was 6 months ago” But now I don’t feel that anymore. Maybe it’s time for me to move beyond Lingq?

One last thing, this summer I’m planning on living in Germany from July to October while teaching online. I am going to try to immerse myself as much as possible while I’m there. So part of my question is also, what would be of most benefit as a way to set up my learning/studying before I get to Germany? Cus I’m thinking reading novels and newspaper articles ain’t it.

Thanks, everyone.


Well, it seems like a somewhat tricky question but I’ll start off with the feeling stuck part. I think you are stuck in the intermediate plateau which I’m sure many people are in me included. You mentioned that reading novels and articles ain’t doing it any more and that you have learned everything more less using lingq. I think one thing would probably to start paying more attention to grammar.

I know that it’s not exactly everybody’s cup of tea and while I do agree with Steve on many things I do believe that studying grammar has its benefits even if you don’t need to study it so ferociously as some claim. Another tip of mine would be to mix it up a bit. As much as I love reading and grammar I have a bad habit of doing certain things for a long time with high intensity, so much so that I get burned out.

Maybe you’d should try to immerse yourself in the culture, watch movies, TV series. German police series and other law themed series (sort of like Law and Order) are supposed to be really good. I can’t say for myself as I haven’t watched any myself but I have heard others say so. It might seem that this tip about movies and TV series is trite and unimaginative but personally having started watching shows and generally speaking do stuff with the language has helped me get exited about languages again.

Also, I think that the closer we get to advanced level the less we feel our progress. There have been times where I feel like I should be so much further along in Spanish, French and German if I’d just had stopped lollygagging a long time ago, but having gone back every once in a while reviewing stuff like verb conjugation, noun endings etc. I noticed that the basics are coming quite naturally to me (Romance language).

Having started learning Catalan and Portuguese I feel that I can get to a really high level fast because I have 10 years under my belt of language learning and basic knowledge of Romance languages. What I’m getting at is that and this is something that hit me a few days ago. Is that once we get past a certain stage it gets harder to know exactly what you need to do to get forward.

In order to have a decent adult conversation you need a basic knowledge of how all parts of speech works and I’d say that an intermediate learner of a language should have these. Their might be some parts of speech that causes more problems than others and this might vary from person to person and language to language.

While I have a good basic knowledge of most romance languages I have noticed that one problem that I have with Spanish is with indirect and direct objects and to a lesser extent the subjunctive. Since this post is already quite long I won’t go into detail why I have problems with these things.

However, getting to the point I’d say that my second (or is it third) tip would be try to define what is the thing that is holding you back. It might be grammar in general, it might be a specific thing with grammar or that you have burnt yourself out and need to mix things up a bit or take a short break. I’d say that vocabulary is something that you can always expand upon in one way or the other. The only way to know more words is to reading more, listening, writing and speaking more.


If you want to advance quicker, I’d recommend that you read more than 184K per year. You should aim to read an average of one full LingQ lesson worth of text a day — that’s 2200 words / day. If you can do that most days, your yearly total should be @ 500,000 — 800,000 words read. And read more fiction / novels as opposed to articles.

If you do that, your known word counts should increase exponentially because your word frequencies will be a lot higher.


I have a similar problem with English. I don’t even start it on LingQ as I hit the infamous intermediate plateau a long time ago. I know all the words but that’s not enough.
What I feel is helping me the most at this level: [ output - correction - input&thinking - output u.s.w. ]
I write a text on some important topic and book an hour with a tutor via skype. We open the text on the google docs and go through it. I read the text, we fix it online in terms of mistakes and better ways to express the original sought. Later I read the text again, think about it, do everything to imprint it on my memory.
Next time I write the text again, maybe on a similar topic but using all the knowledge from the previous sessions.
YMMV but it works for me.


Just some observations…I’m only at half your known words so I certainly can’t comment on the best way exactly for your level. Looking at the other two responders…they have 40,000 plus known words in German. 15,000 is great…and the fact that you are able to converse and read most things means my next goal of getting to that # hopefully will put me in a simillar skill level. BUT, that’s still 30,000 less than these two guys. And there’s a few others I’ve seen with these high counts. So there are still LOTS of words to find.

I’m curious, if you filter the lesson feed to only advanced, typically what percentage of unknown words do these articles show for you?

Back to my original thought…it sounds like you need a lot more varied material, maybe branching into a lot of different subjects that you haven’t already. Maybe certain online magazines or newspaper…I know you mentioned newspapser articles aren’t maybe giving you the return you want, but if you step a little outside the typical headline articles on politics, war, entertainment, do the articles present enough varied material?

How is Der Spiegel for your level? Does anything at this link present a challenge or new words? Maybe the more scientific one? 10 Best Magazines for Learning German | FluentU German

Reading more books may help, especially non fiction on different subjects?

How about movies? Are you able to follow German movies and tv shows easily?

SergeyFM has a great list of German YouTube channels that you can import into Lingq. If you haven’t checked these out maybe they’ll be good for you.

I know the DW Deutsch youtube channel has lots of varied reporting on all kinds of different subjects. Also reporter youtube channel. I think those are both in Sergey’s list.

Also maybe check out some podcasts? I don’t know of any for you level so you probably have to search around, but I’m sure there are some you might enjoy.

Good luck!


Me again. I saw this link in another thread…The Goethe Instituate free library. Apparently you can select a level and filter by that. Not, you have to register but apparently it’s free. I have not looked at this yet myself. The user posted this:

JimOser said:
Free online German library from Goethe Institut
In USA: eLibrary - Goethe-Institut USA
In the library, one can search for: A1 , A2, B1, B2, C1, C2
which are the European levels of language learning.
A1 is beginner.
C2 is better than native.

This is the thread I found it in…maybe there are some other good sources:



First of all, congrats on your progress in German, even if you think you could do better. However, don’t think that you can’t progress further here on Lingq, because you can. MUCH further. At the end of the day, 184,000 words read and 15k known words really isn’t very much. Strive to reach 30k known words and 1 Million words read and you will notice a significant increase in your German abilities. This might seem very lofty but if you are reading novels on Lingq consistently you can achieve this in 6 months-1 year.

Look at some of the top performers in German here on Lingq and you will realize just how high the ceiling is. Novels are incredible for language learning. So keep it up! You definitely have not read enough to hit a plateau. 184k words read is very, very little. And of course listen at every opportunity as well.


Amen, t_harangi, you nailed it. Your Lingq stats are incredible, btw. Users like you really motivate me to continue language learning in more languages. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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Thank you, lev!

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Yes, I think this is what I need to do. I’m feeling the input has brought me to this level and input is amazing but it’s time for more output. I know this with learning Chinese. I have learned Chinese for 15 years and am a fluent speaker but I’m still learning new words and idioms all the time - although very low frequency ones. For example, today I learned how to say algorithm in Chinese. Haven’t come across that word or needed to use it over the past 15 years or living in Taiwan and speaking Chinese daily for 7.5 years. So that’s why I’m thinking maybe it’s time to practice more output. I don’t need to learn how to say C1 and C2 words in German. I need to practice speaking and output.
Thanks for your comment!


Thanks for your reply!

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

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Ellery, I agree with the comments from others. I would definitely start increasing that words read count. You should be aiming for 50k-100k per month if you really want to make progress. As you read more your speed will increase considerably. My “end goals” here on LingQ are to reach 3 million total words read in each language. By that point I should reach a pretty decent level.

As far as this plateau goes, I’ve wondered the same thing about decreasing repetition over time since the unknown words we come across are encountered less. The thing that helps balance this problem out is that you’ll tend to have a better understanding of the word when you know a higher percentage of words in the sentence/paragraph which contains the unknown word. Actually a lot of times you’ll be able to more or less guess the meaning of the word even if it’s the first time you’ve seen it. This strengthens the memory considerably, and you won’t need as many repetitions to remember the word.