A power user shares his advice on using LingQ and finding content

Hey guys,

Yesterday Toby (who won the June 90-Day Challenge in Norwegian, Swedish & Danish) came on the livestream and shared his approach to using LingQ.

He has a rigorous and meticulous learning schedule and has fine-tuned his approach overtime.

If you’re interested in learning how to take your learning to the next level on LingQ, including insights on how to create LingQs (ie be super picky or less picky, use a monolingual dictionary, etc), how to find content and how to balance learning multiple languages at once, then you’d enjoy this video: A Power User Shares His Advice - 90-Day Language Learning Challenge - YouTube

Resources mentioned on how to find content for importing into LingQ:

Language-specific resources






If anyone has any further questions, or wasn’t able to view the livestream yesterday, feel free to ask here! As I already disclaimed, I’m not an expert but I’m happy to share my experience and what’s worked for me.


Looking forward to the video as I’ve been following Toby for a little while now.

Not sure yet if he mentioned in the video, but in the same vain as creating separate profiles in Netflix for each language, doing so in Youtube is great as well. Create separate profile there (you can have some X number associated to your account. Set one up for each language and focus your attention to videos in the target language when on those profiles and you’ll start getting plenty of suggestions.

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Hey Mate,

I enjoyed it! Definitely relate to what you were saying about words not being translated as annoying at first but with some time you’d rather find/figure out the context of it anyway. I have an unrelated question though, for me my goal has switched from words know to words read as I agree it seems like a smarter goal do you have a goal for hours of listening at all? I’m not quite sure where to set my goal for that one. I’d like to hear what you think about hours of listening and very high comprehension in your chosen language ?

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Yes I set goals for listening as well. 7 hours per language per week, but I average closer to 10. I should note that I count the time listening and reading at the same time as time listening. So it was never 3 hours listening and reading, and then 3 hours more of listening to content per day.

Until “Phase 3” this was at least 6 of my hours of listening was done this way. That percentage is shifting pretty rapidly to just listening content (including just an audiobook) as I find reading and listening at the same time to be more distracting now.

Absolutely, I have (at least) 4 google accounts and just alternate them. The other key with YouTube is you actually need to watch videos in your TL. If I click a link to a YouTube video while not on my normal account I actually delete it from my history to avoid the algorithm thinking I understand English.

One other fun thing is when searching with Google, if your target language is a part of Google Translate, it will auto-translate almost anything into your target language. This even includes user reviews of places and the summaries of pages and articles.


Yeah I agree I had to stop with the reading a novel and listening to the audio book as at a certain point it gets annoying I mainly do my listening with podcasts and interviews with a transcript if possible, the narrator is too slow especially when I’m really into the book. I need to try the Audible speed up option.

Do you have an end goal in regards to listening number of hours you want to reach or its to do a certain number per week?

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If you were to study a language 10 hours a day……only one language, how would you spread out those hours over multiple language activities in a day? (Also, LingQ is included in it). Is there time for rest?

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If my situation allowed me to spend at least 10 hours a day this is what I would do:

  • I would probably start with listening to a podcast or an audiobook for an hour while going for a walk.
  • Either immediately before or after this I’d eat something and get ready for the day.
  • I would then pick a grammar topic to study about for 5 minutes, and then spend 55 minutes reading or listening to something and actively trying to notice that topic.
  • After that I’d probably spend 2 hours reading extensively.
  • I’d then speak to someone for an hour.
  • Lunch
  • I’d would then pick a TV series to watch, documentary would be okay, and watch it for 2 hours.
  • I’d then pick either something I saw or read to write about for an hour.
  • I’d then speak to someone for an hour.
  • I would then take a break until evening.
  • For the last hour I’d then pick something “fun” or relaxing to-do probably paired with 5-15 minutes with an SRS app.

This presumes I had no personal or professional obstacles, and that I’m mentally able to deal with the discomfort that comes with not being able to understand things for a long time. That is, if I was an A0, I’d probably still do this exactly, but it’d take a lot more out of me (and did).

The thing I’d highlight though, is to me the mindset of “okay I’m done with this for the day; time to revert to my native language” doesn’t make much sense anymore. As my proficiency has improved, my desire to “stop” has all but vanished. They’ve just become languages that I can speak and use. Obviously not “perfectly” (native-like), but comfortably.

PS: The answer wouldn’t change depending on the language count to be honest. I’d just switch based on the day.


A very nice comment about your language ability, building on your friend’s view, who said his guitar playing ability was 9 out of 10 at High School and then just 2 out of 10 at College, so your start in German after one year was good on a beginner scale but maybe just 1 out of 10 on Native Language Ability! Yes, lots of different classifications at different stages On this “endless journey”. Lots of luck in pushing ever onwards to mastery at your target of 9 out of 10 on Native Ability. And thanks for some very interesting observations, and good tips, on your own approach to language learning.


Ugh, I hate when I’ve clicked an youtube link to an English video and realize I was last in my German profile and it plays there =D. Thanks for the tip though…I didn’t realize I could delete it from my history there. I’ll do that going forward.

When you say searching in google…are you going to the english google site, but then somehow have google translate set to translate everything? I do have google translate extension, which I mostly just use in to help translate articles when I’m too lazy to import to LingQ, or just want to read something quickly without the worry. And I have used it to do full page translations (mostly to English from something else)…but I’m not sure what your setup is for the google search?

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I sent you a PM clarifying what I mean.

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Good luck to you as well :)! It just takes time (and a lot of stubbornness and patience).

There is no number I have in mind now where I would ever stop or slow down. For now and the foreseeable future it will simply be a weekly goal. Any longer term goals are just Weeks * Weekly Goal.

If I wasn’t happy with the way that math shook out, I’d just be certain to exceed the weekly goal. I treat the goal as a floor or bare minimum and I usually exceed it comfortably.

My armchair theory is that CEFR listening comprehension skill levels work out something like this in cumulative listening hours:

  • A1 - 50
  • A2 - 100
  • B1 - 200
  • B2 - 400
  • C1 - 800
  • C2 - 1600

Then +100% / - 50% depending on all the variety of factors that make up our individual situations.


Thanks Toby!

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Thanks Mate,

Yeah I agree with what you have put there i’m B1 sneaking towards B2 I have around 300 to 400 hours so that makes sense actually.


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Thanks to @noxialisrex for the great video! It was very interesting to hear your perspective on language learning and your experience with LingQ.
The skipping of words because of lack of definitions was particularly striking to me as someone who does exactly the opposite, that is, to take quite some time to search for precise definitions in monolingual dictionaries. The discussion about monolingual dictionaries itself was also very interesting. So it was the division of languages per day etc.
There’s many points I’ll like to touch from your slides but I’ll stick to one. Personally I never tracked read words, so when the topic came up I went to check my stats and realized how far I am from your 50k and then 60k goal per week (at a certain point you talk of 25k words per 2-3 hours). Granted I don’t use LingQ as a ledger, and I do some reading outside of LingQ but even then, I’ll probably be at roughly half the 60k mark at best. It is very, very impressive honestly.


My reading speed at the beginning of the year was between 4 and 6K words per hour. What really increased my speed was listening to the audiobook and reading at the same time. From my experience an audiobook at normal speed is about 8K words per hour. In “Phase 1” to keep up with that I had no choice but to read faster. I obviously did not understand everything (or even most things), but I chose not to worry about it and keep reading.

Eventually I was able to increase the speed of the audiobook, and now as derived my reading speed is comfortably between 10 and 12K per hour.

In “Phase 1” I was very rigid about getting a good bilingual/translated definition. Eventually I realized that if the word is important, then it will come back. If the word keeps coming back and I still cannot figure out what it means, then that is when I break out a monolingual dictionary.

The thing I have learned is the hill looks really daunting, but it’s more like rolling a snowball down it than climbing up it. Once you are “comfortable” (i.e. have a critical mass) it gets really easy to get more and more exposure in less time.


noxialisrex – How’s your speaking coming along? Can you share your experience in regards to this? Is there improvement when it comes to spoken fluency?

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Is there improvement? 100%, absolutely. I have thought about posting some unscripted videos of me speaking in my TL’s over time (I even bought a camera for this purpose but have been busy).

I try to speak for 2 hours a week at least now in each TL. I really started with speaking a month or so before knowing anything about comprehensible/compelling input.

Swedish and Norwegian were really starts from 0. I used Google Translate to look up how to say how old I was, and then proceeded to say it wrong in Swedish anyway. I really remember the first conversations being {Lots of Stuff I didn’t understand} me saying {Yes/No} followed by {Lots of Stuff I didn’t understand} and then eventually reading a Klar Tale or 8sidor article and then not understanding any of that.

German was different in that with all the classes I had taken I knew about just every grammatical concept that exists in German, but was really only capable of using them when writing with a dictionary and a lot of time. I could have a very basic conversation, but also didn’t understand much that was being said to me. My italki teachers estimated I was about an A2 and I think that was about right.

In the last 13~ months I went from A0 in Swedish to having a part-time job requiring (read: allowing) me to speak and write in Swedish almost every day. I understand almost everything in conversation without effort. Last week I got into a small argument with someone from Sweden that thought I was lying to them about being neither Norwegian or Danish. I’m told I am difficult to estimate my spoken fluency using the normal CEFR because of my habit of blurting out random Norwegian words or using Norwegian vowels (e.g. saying når instead of när). The consensus is my spoken ability is “imponerande”.

Similarly in Norwegian, I get opportunities to speak with native speakers almost every day. I understand without needing to put in any effort. I actually keep this better separated from Swedish by using Hunkjønn and getting enough exposure to the non-Østlandske dialects. Though sometimes I still say things like “och” instead of “og”. Native speakers tell me my accent is good and that I am “fluent” though I really try to not pay too much attention to it as I do not want to stop improving.

Between both I almost never import false friends like “rar”. But sometimes when I hear them I get taken off by them for a second. My biggest weaknesses in live conversation for both languages are the same:

  • Word order in subordinate clauses
  • Prepositions
  • Interweaving English in the way that a native speaker would…

With German the grammar is simply harder for me. While Swedish and Norwegian both have grammatical gender, it was clear to me from day 1 what gender a word had in almost all contexts. I did not have that muscle with German until very recently. I have no problem expressing myself in great detail, and understanding anything being said to me. But I have a lot of areas I need to improve in with spoken German:

  • Grammatical Gender + Grammatical Case
  • Prepositional Phrases (+ Grammatical Case)
  • V2 Word Order
  • Subject-Verb agreement in subordinate clauses
  • werden vs. wurden (vs. würden + gewesen)

In general, I just try and pay attention to these things when I read, listen, write and speak. If I notice it, awesome! If I made a mistake, but noticed it, awesome! It will all come together eventually with enough exposure and practice.