Am I missing something in my method? lingqs vs known words

So, I joined my first challenge and since I already had 1000 words known I took the next challenge for 10000 coins. That will be easily met in about a month. However, for fun I was looking at my place on the leaderboard for the challenge and something caught my eye: I am WAAY behind many of them in coins and known words, but I am in 2nd place in the challenge when you list it by lingqs. The one in the lead has unfathomable numbers in every catagory so you could even say that among those who read at a regular pace that I am in the lead in lingqs. How can this be? Are they reviewing after each page unitl they can say the “know” the word?? If so, then I just can’t do that. I could learn the same word 1000 times, in context, in the same day but after I sleep a couple of times it would be gone from long term memory. Is that just a limitation for me, or is there some method I am missing? (I am accumulating about 100 lingqs a day and learning about 10 words a day in about 1.5 hrs)

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I don’t have much experience with language learning but I just wanted to say that you should not worry about it. Just read and listen a lot. You will eventually achieve the high level and it takes time.

I just finished a one month challenge and here’s how I believe it works. The “challenge” has to do with how many “lingQs” you make each day: that is, words that you click on as initially unknown and turn yellow. It has NOTHING to do with how many words you already knew in the texts you read or whether you eventually learn the yellow words. Moreover, different words have different coin values: the more basic the word, the higher its coin value. Thus it is logical that people with higher known words know more common words.

Someone who knows a lot of words independently of his/her reading/listening on LingQ, could show a lot of “known” words yet lag behind another person (or exceed the other person) in the number of LingQs the latter makes daily. Not everyone learns every word solely from LingQ.

How many lingQs you make is a personal preference: do you prefer to learn a few and review them until you know them well? Do you make loads of LingQs without reviewing them? Or are you somewhere in-between? Moreover, if you lingQ a lot of individual words – for example, every conjugated form of a verb or each declined form of a word in languages that have grammatical cases – then you can greatly inflate the NUMBER of Lingqs and put yourself way out front.

Yet, at my present intermediate level in Russian, I do not need to click each declension of a noun or conjugation of a verb. Instead, I tend to LingQ short phrases which include an unfamiliar verb and noun so that I learn what case a particular verb takes. This does not help my LingQ count but is the most efficient way for me personally to learn. I could independently click all three: the verb, the noun and the phrase and “get three for the price of one” but frankly that is counterproductive FROM A LEARNING STANDPOINT. I want to learn the entire PHRASE because I have found that context-based learning is more effective. Artificially increasing the LingQ number is “make work” and pointless for me.

This of course gets to the heart of “challenges.” I understand that the purpose is to stimulate motivation and that’s fine. The challenge was an interesting experiment for me to push myself to read and listen to more material than I did previously and it was valuable in that regard. At the same time, it underscored that my own more active approach to language learning - which includes writing and speaking and now includes watching films and TV not on LingQ – is most effective for me personally at my present stage. Still, I think that a “challenge” that focuses on words LEARNED, rather than clicked, would be far more meaningful yet would have to account for where students are in the learning process. As I myself have experienced, it is far easier to learn new words as an intermediate student than as a beginner.

At the end of the day, each learner has to figure out what is the best way to increase their own language competence. Figuring it out is itself motivating :slight_smile:


Ahh, okay. I suppose many of those who sign up for challenges may be those who have already learned other languages or come to lingq after extensive exposure to the language already. That makes sense as to how they would know so many words “incidentally” as Steve would put it. I have never learned another spoken language and so I have to lingq most words (not all, but most) before moving to the known list. Thanks.

you’re learning 10 lings a day in 1.5 hours of study?

Hi shakespeareanbard,
I have reached dead end street many times; ie notorious plateau in language learning. One thing i did was resetting the stats in the target language. that explains for the higher word count in the challenge. I am not doing it to catch attention of others, just to have a fresh restart and review interesting lessons at lingq.

Following article “The S Curve” makes pretty much sense to me in term of learning a new language.

To me, from beginner to intermediate is a mini S curve, and from intermediate to advance is another mini S curve, and so on. Of course it will surprise you if i tell you that i have not written barely anything in Spanish. well, active output like writing and speaking will definitely be other S curves for me, presume to be easier ones.

How can one experience a “plateau” in the early stage of language learning?
This could be due to boring contents, with which unmotivated mind does not feel even a ripple in a stagnant water. Sorry to put it in this way, but that’s at least how I felt in the beginning.

Well, I highly recommend intensive input over extensive one in this stage, repetition is the key.

pick or import lessons with stories, such as “who is she”.

pick the lesson with less than 10% - 12% unknown words.
Instead of reviewing lingq words, review the very same lesson until you are super comfortable with 95% of words in the lesson.

Watching REPETITIVELY interesting movies with good sounding on Youtube does help tremendously, with or without Spanish or English subtitle.

search for “child story in spanish” on Youtube
La película de Jesús La película de Jesús - el lenguaje latinoamericano Español The Jesus Film - Spanish Latin American - YouTube

Perhaps, someone else may wanna throw in some interesting materials or things they have done in the beginning?

Since you have about 1.5 hours to spare daily, i would recommend spending the time in at least two separate sections.

Anyways, just my 2 cents.

Happy learning, wish the best for your journey to living the language.

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for me to count it as known it must be automatic, not just something I could figure out in context. Closer to what some of you would call active vocabulary, otherwise I just don’t move it to known. I even occasionally re-lingq a word because I came across it and had to pause to figure it out.

Thanks, I am checking all this out. The only problem that stood out to me in what you said is the 10-12% unknown words in stories. I just dive right into 35% unknown stuff and I enjoy it but I guess it makes for my sometimes slow pace. I will try to mix in some easier stuff. I am doing the “Who is She” stories. Even though I find them helpful and well written, they are kind of like the FSI stuff, not very interesting.

I’m the same when i use Lingq. I won’t move a word to known unless I can produce it myself, or at least know it so well that I’ll never have to remind myself of it’s meaning. I also don’t bother with cognates, to me, counting words like ‘posible’ ‘terrible’ ‘patatas’ etc is pointless, I just ignore them, I feel like if I count all of those it’ll give me a sense of being at a higher level than I actually am. I only count the infinitives of verbs, never in their conjugated form, and I don’t bother with plurals either.

I’m pretty sure nobody uses their Lingq known word count as a barometer of their actual level, but rather to see some kind of progress on here, which is great! Though I personally feel like it would inflate my mediocre ability in the language and make me think I’m super awesome at something I’m clearly not that good at, if I were to see my “known” word count reach some ludicrous number. I feel like It wouldn’t be right to have like 20k+ known words on here when I’m still having trouble, at times, with a Harry Potter audiobook aimed at children between the ages of 10-12 lol.

My (unsolicited) suggestion to both of you is to ease up a little on your criteria on whether you “know” a word. I understand the appeal of being rigorous and only marking words known when you feel you can produce them, but from my experience it’s much better from a motivational standpoint to use a “known-from-context” approach.

Think of LingQ as a machine to teach you to notice and comprehend. Once you see it as a tool to recognize words, you’ll be able to concentrate on sight reading and your word count will go up accordingly. This is more important than simply inflating your known word count, it is actually a pretty good indication of how well you can read texts like a native. The higher the number, the closer you’re getting to being able to read (and, to a lesser extent, to listening).

On the other hand, using LingQ word counts as an indicator of productive ability, in my opinion, is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Production comes after recognition: with speaking practice, trips to the country, etc. It sounds a little magical and fuzzy now, but from having learned a few languages here using this system, I have faith in the process. Focus on reception, and production will follow. (ie. use the “known-from-context” method rather than the “well, I think I could produce it in a real conversation, but I’m not sure” method.)

But again, as Steve and others are fond of saying, find your own way, my advice is only as valuable as what you paid for it. :slight_smile:


Ah, also on your comments about having a 20,000 word count and only being able to read Harry Potter: I wouldn’t worry about that. At 20,000 words in Spanish you’d be at a strong intermediate or early advanced level. Two days ago I finished Harry Potter in Greek, and it took me over 10,000 known words.

The trick is getting there. For Greek, I had to slog through a lot of boring intermediate material to get to about 8,000 words, and then LingQ helped me with the rest. This is using my more liberal “known-from-context” method outlined in the post above.

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I second what gregf commented. If you want to be able to “produce” the word, then that comes from speaking, which is not necessarily LingQ’s strong suit. It offers the opportunity to speak with people through the forums, people’s walls, and finally through tutoring sessions, but most people practice the production of the language through encountering people. LingQ is phenomenal with bringing you to the level of being able to listen and read, which leads you to be able to speak. As Steve always mentions in his videos it is best to be exposed to as much “interesting content” as possible. Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking are 4 different skills, all related yes, but still different. Being able to produce the word in your head is certainly a valuable tool, but being exposed to more material will allow you to slowly become more comfortable with the language, and by extension, the word count will go up drastically. Keep in mind by studying a language like Spanish you are reading a lot of words that are the same, they are just from the conjugated form. LingQ counts all of the forms of a verb as a new word, which in some ways it is, but you may not be able to produce the word itself. If you understand it in context then you know the word, I would LingQ the phrase so you can learn the Grammar, and if you know the word then allow the system to know you know the word.

On a second note, When you highlight a couple of words, a phrase or even a sentence, this does not give you any ‘coins’ but it does give you LingQs. Subsequently, every time you learn a LingQ that was not just a singular word, you get no ‘coins.’ Somebody can correct me if I am wrong, but from what I can tell, the only time LingQ gives you coins is if you learn or lingq words. I believe that is it. So, this may also be a factor.

A third and final note (So sorry for the long post I have a bad habit of this), Most Language families work differently. Here are some examples, Chinese does not have a verbal system like Spanish where it conjugates verbs depending on tense or pronoun etc. Spanish conjugates verbs (and when you start looking into the grammar you will notice certain formulas allow you to learn just the root of a verb and the stem can easily be applied by extension learning a lot of words at once), and depending on the tense you could have something like 100 words associated with the root of the verb. Contrasting this with Chinese, you may only get something like 10 full forms from learning some of the stems (or whatever it is called for Chinese, aspect markers?). Greek (speaking of Classical Attic Greek, I don’t know modern) has multiple verbal (and adverbial) conjugations and noun (and adjectives) declensions based on a root, and this can lead to 100s of words all associated with the same root. Hebrew breaks up into multiple categories for nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs. I mention this, because if you are talking about the LingQ challenges asking about how many lingqs you get per month, then each of these different languages has a tremendous difference between them in how many known words you will acquire as well as how many LingQs you will likely add to your total count. Don’t worry about others progress, and compare it to your own. If you are curious about it, then look at those who are in the same language as you, and see how long it takes them to progress. I suggest the “90Day Hardcore Challenge” instead or in addition to your LingQ monthly challenge. This will allow you to see your progress along the same track with those in your language and you won’t feel as discouraged etc.

I hope this helps.
Cody C.

Whoa, that’s dreadful. I lean toward being “pretty confident” in my need to be able to use a word before I move to known, and I use the 1-4 ratings to get them there. However, I couldn’t imagine being as restrictive as you are and all the words you ignore. I guess it’s like tea–to each his own.

In the future, and in new languages, I’m going standard Steve, which is to add to known if I understand it in a context.

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Because I’m reading for pleasure, it seems to matter little to what degree I agree with a stricter approach to ‘known’ words. I read the page, understand it, and turn to the next page, striving to get to the “whodunit”. All the blue words I understood in context get moved to ‘known’. I’ll be the first to admit my known word count gets somewhat inflated by this approach. (Compounded by the fact that there are so many forms of the same word in Russian compared to Spanish.) Still, I am learning and enjoying the language, and it’s really relatively rare that I need to demote a word previously marked as ‘known’.


Thanks for the imput, hellion’s method is even much more restrictive than my own (e.g. I do count cognates). I am having fun, motivation is not an issue. I just like being efficient and I was wondering if I was missing out on something.

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Am I the person you are referring to? :slight_smile: Let me explain, I read academic, masters-level texts in my target language, and I joined LingQ on January 31st. So it has been gulping up all the words like dog, cat, brother, sister, sisters, eat, ate, had-eaten, was-eating (all those Spanish verb tenses.) I’ve probably been putting in about three hours a day in reading, including a book on the life of Simon Bolivar and The Alchemist by Paulo Coello… I’m a bit of an outlier. Please disregard my zeal for reading, I’m in the late stages of language learning. It’s been funny to me too, because despite reading 35,000 words in 4 days, I see people with 4 times the number of LingQ’s as me. Thousands more LingQs. And I think: am I doing this wrong? Am I not using my LingQ’s correctly? Why do they have so many??? But, nope, you are doing it right, and I’m doing it right as well. I remember when every word under the sun was new. Now they are all familiar friends, but the life of Simon Bolivar and his military campaigns is new, as are the articles I upload over Ecuadorian referendums and Mexican cinema. To each, their own. Keep reading - it’s one of the best things you can do for your vocabulary. Don’t forget listening and talking exercises too! :slight_smile:

LOL, okay, you certainly are an avid reader! Anyway, I am also working on the speaking outside of lingq and other than needing to choose more appropriate texts for my level, I am satisfied. Thanks for all your imput!