Amount of speaking for fluency?

I was wondering, for those of you LingQers who have taken a language to fluency, how much time did you spend on output (speaking, specifically) before you became comfortable with speaking to Natives in your target language? I’ve begun speaking with natives recently through language exchanges and I was wondering how much time others have spent on this phase before becoming comfortable with expressing themselves.


I don’t think it’s possible to put a time stamp on this. How well you speak depends on both your passive vocabulary that you’ve aquired through input, as well your active vocab you’ve practiced through output. Someone who’s spent years of reading and listening will have a different ramp up than someone who’s studied with something like Assimil and started speaking soon after.

The best you can do is just do as much as you can, read, listen, speak until you feel comfortable. There is no set time, it just happens.


THe way to a real fluency is for me to make some certain part of this way by reading, listening, speaking and a bit writing, not only by speaking.
It means also to analize your mistakes in order not to make them again and again. For this you want or not but you have to go through some practical grammar.

How many hours do you think it would take for someone with similar stats in German and French as me to become fluent in speaking? I feel like I could become fluent in both in about a year. If I focused mainly on Speaking. Is it really even possible to give a number? And how exactly would you describe speaking fluently?

See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. You have 30K+ German and 20K+ French, but did those come from reading only? Did you do read-listen-repeat exercises? Did you have a tutor? Did you practice speaking early saying basic stuff? Do you practice speaking regularly? Do you listen to audiobooks or podcasts a lot? Do you watch a ton of TV? All those are factors as to when you’ll become fluent.

There is an “optimal” scenario where a person who happens to have 20K French words marked on LingQ could become fluent within a month. (In that scenario, the person would have done all of the above and more, and the day they marked 20K they went to France and only used French from then on.)

Another person with 20K could spend another two years and not be “fluent,” but use the language to read and listen and watch TV and not worry too much about it.

My point is, it’s impossible to put a time stamp on this.

The more I know about languages, the less I worry about “fluency” because it’s really just a byproduct of being engaged with the language in various forms. I just concentrate on the engagement part.


I am living in Germany. I am doing all of the above stuff in scenario A but for me it looks like 40K will be a better benchmark than 20K if we have to use this criteria. The way you make words known here - you are also forgetting some of them along the way. 40K would be the actual 20k to put it simply.

Yeah there is just now way to know for sure. I can answer all those questions with great detail and we still wouldn’t be able to come up with a number that everyone could follow. If the only thing in language learning that kept me going was “reaching fluency” I would be a sad fella.

Hey do you have any experience with “Anki”? Specifically using it to memorize sentences. I feel like it’s a good way to turn passive vocabulary into active vocabulary. Have you tried it before?

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Due to time constraints, I did not use any SRS software for my German language studies. I had to keep aside some time for my academic studies. Now I just started one a couple of days ago as there is a semester break and I will keep adding sentences for the next three months. I will keep observing if some of this passive knowledge is readily available when I get to speak with a native speaker.
Right now I have no definite answer to your query.
However, words like “notwendig”, “ewigkeit”, “einsamkeit”, “unbedingt”, “ganz sicher” are part of my active vocabulary which I picked up after watching a lot of television series and reading books at LingQ which I was also able to use in a conversation.
As far as speaking goes, I can tell you that I am not yet a fluent speaker the way native speakers speak. I feel like I need more input in order to speak fluently. I feel like I have to increase my reading dose that may help with speaking as well and see if using Anki in parallel has any noticeable effects?

That’s why I am currently testing Matt vs Japan’s hypothesis he was able to speak sentences in Japanese effortlessly without doing any forced practice. He started outputting after 2 years of intense immersion.

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Anki is used by a lot of people who feel that memorizing words is a way to go – I think primarily because that’s what they make you do it in school. I’ve never used Anki and though I used to do some memorization when I started out, I later realized that it’s not necessary, and that on the long run, just absorbing words is more effective than memorizing.

Does using Anki to memorize sentences make your vocab active? It think that’s debatable – and it’s a bit of a can of worms to open. But for example, at the beginning, I used to listen and repeat Assimil lessons a lot, and the result was that I was able to recite some of them words for word, and some of them I can still recite to this day, so technically, that does help with active vocab, BUT the sentences here were in context of the story of the lesson, and the point of the exercise was NOT to memorize them, but tho practice through repetition. Me remembering the sentences to this day is a side effect of the repetition exercise.

Does memorizing and repeating random sentences out of context help the same way? Probably not to the same extent. But it will probably do something.


Did you ever speak and write in German? How did it go grammatically after spending a year or so at LingQ? (Also, doing other stuff like watching tv shows, listening to podcasts etc). Did you feel fluent?

The only type of SRS I really find helpful or useful anymore is monolingual. Here’s a picture of the thing > what is it? Here’s the word > match it to the image.

Otherwise I find even out of context sentences not really all that helpful. It probably does some good, but more and more I think it’s context that matters. Even in English if you give me a esoteric word or sentence I may have a hard time explaining or deciphering its meaning without greater context.

Anytime I try to read something and translate to English I immediately feel my comprehension drop. Real-time translation is certainly a skill, and matters if you’re an interpreter, but I don’t think it’s how we acquire languages (at least after a certain point).

My German speaking is pretty good, and I think I can consider myself fluent.
Writing is definitely my weakest skill in all my languages, mainly because I have this theory that writing only really becomes a factor in academics, business, and / or actually living in a country. For a hobbyist like myself, reading, listening, and speaking are the main skills to maintain. That is not to say the writing is not important or that it should be ignored – it’s just that for me personally it’s low priority and I’m comfortable with ignoring it for now and putting it on my “Things I’ll have to catch up on if I ever move to Germany” list.

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