Are your LingQs causing you to waste time?

I start off every day by reviewing my LingQs that are due for SRS. This can typically be over 100 LingQs/day and takes up a decent chunk of time. Not to mention time lost due to a little ADHD, considering I somehow ended up writing this post when I should be reviewing LingQs…

I saw a recent video that Steve posted titled Why I Don’t Do Language Tests, Drills or Quizzes. In this video, he stated that he prefers to study LingQs within each piece of content, specifically when in sentence mode. He didn’t outright say that he does not study all of his LingQs due for SRS, but I would say he strongly implied it when he said he does not like to study words out of context.

So my question is, what do you do with your LingQs? I’d love to hear everyone’s strategies. What do you think is the best method for obtaining new words?

“So my question is, what do you do with your LingQs?”
Nothing. I don’t use the SRS. I read and I listen. When I can’t remember a word, I click on it to look it up. After enough time, I starting remembering words in order of frequency, because I ‘review’/see those words more often and look them up more often. Eventually, after X number of look-ups I remember the word.

“What do you think is the best method for obtaining new words?”
The thing is that a language is not ‘only’ words. It is how those words are used and their various different meanings. I learn them one by one with continual reading and listening. As a beginner I listened often to the same lesson I had read + read while listening. This meant I encountered the word first while reading then drilled it into my memory by listening. These days, as an upper intermediate and with my current lifestyle, I often only do read while listening to content once and I almost don’t re-listen to anything (due to lifestyle of not having much listening-only time).


I’ll wait for the LingQs to show up in the next thing I read.

I do also go back to books/chapters I’ve read before, but instead of reading it all again, I’ll just hop from one LingQ to another: that’s as close to SRS as I get.


So my question is, what do you do with your LingQs?
Effectively nothing. They just help remind me that I’ve seen this word before.

What do you think is the best method for obtaining new words?
It depends on if it’s a specific word I want to remember, or just in general. In general, I just read a lot, often aloud to myself. If I got the word wrong when the text-to-speech says it, then I repeat it with the correct pronunciation.

If I want to remember a specific word/set of vocabulary, I repeat the lesson over and over until I get the word(s) I want from it. Sometimes if I haven’t encountered a word in LingQ, as I will do with some of the Russian verbs of motion this week, I’ll write sentences with the words in them with the purpose of practicing using them in a context I’m familiar with.
An English example with verbs:

  • Yesterday, I went to the store.
  • Today, he’s going to the theater.
  • Yesterday, I flew to London.
  • Today, we’re flying to Prague.
    And with nouns related to the doctor:
  • The pharmacy is where I picked up my medicine.
  • The doctor wrote me a prescription.
  • I went to the doctor because I was sick.
  • I was sick, so I took some medicine.
    The focus is simply on recalling the definition of a word and trying to put it into a simple context. I write and get them corrected in batches, so I get feedback and can refine my knowledge. Once I get comfortable enough, I may write a short text to integrate the words into a more meaningful context and get that corrected.

There are definitely some words that are very useful words to know, but just don’t come up in most of the podcasts and YouTube videos, which I study. Occassionally I hear them in a movie or TV series, but it’s a once off and then I don’t hear them again for months.

Such words include:

  • Meal and cooking terms
  • Household items
  • Specific car-related stuff
  • Doctor/pharmacist interactions
  • Tourism-related interactions, like booking a hotel or ordering a pizza over the phone
    There are definitely scenarios, which language teachers go over in their podcasts and YouTube videos, but they are realllllllly boring! I just can’t bring myself to be talked to like a baby again. xD

In those cases, my thinking is to:

  1. Specifically search for such content, which is interesting and engaging, but targets these domains. Eg. Top Gear in English is an entertaining TV series. Perhaps there’s a similar rip-off in your L2. Or cooking competition dramas. Or a medical TV series like House. Or a renovation TV series.
  2. With your tutor, conversation partner, ChatGPT friend, run over some scenarios. The personal engagement makes it more interesting than the scenarios run by others.
    Just some thoughts

The hopping to the next lingQ/New Word is what I have to do to the Netflix transcripts these days, so I can mark Known Words (due to bugs not allowing me to see the list of New Words). It’s kinda boring, but as a study technique it is very dense in vocabulary drilling, with the guise of increasing of keeping your stats up-to-date. The fun part is it’s still a story and you remember the movie/TV series you watched. In my opinion, it’s more fun that doing what Steve does (and I tested out) to go through the list of all level 3 words in the Vocabulary section to see if there are any words to mark as Known.

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So when you don’t know a word, do you leave it blue, or do you still create LingQs? If you’re creating LingQs, do you play around with the levels 1, 2, 3, 4, or do you just leave it at 1 until you feel comfortable marking it “known”?

I would say I was thinking more specific than something that broad. Not a whole subject area, but focusing on like 5 or 6 words from that subject area. Especially those that I have a hard time remembering. It happens most often with verbs. For whatever reason I have a hard time with them.

I can completely resonate with your first 4 bullet points. Also, for some reason animals are considered children’s vocabulary by many, but I find myself needing those words rather frequently.

Of course, the first bullet point is relevant if you can find good material with subtitles, such as with Russian or me. I love using LingQ and going over this type of material. A very niche case, but Estonian is one of those cases where I might be able to find a series, but subtitles or a transcript are usually missing.

I think even the second point feels like being talked to like a baby again, but I do it for those specific scenarios where I think it’ll be useful. And still, for the first year of living in Estonia everytime they’d ask if I wanted a bag at the checkout I was at a complete loss for words. I had no idea there were so many variations of “would you like a bag?”

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Ok, I retract my above nothing. I do use 1,2,3,4, but very loosely. 1 is for words that I’m not sure about but have seen before. Typically, I only use 2 for words that have been demoted from 4. I use 3 when a word isn’t at 1, but it’s not quite ready for 4. 4 is for if a word is “known” since that’s the way LingQ tracks it. Known is for words that I either knew/recognized without the LingQ or ones that I know so well I feel like I could recognize them pretty much any context without really “reading” the word (I can just recognize the combination of letters as a word like I would in English as a native speaker).

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Yeah, I concur with your animals comments. The only time you need to know animals (aside from the most common say 10) are either reading a children’s book or at the zoo. xD

With regard to Estonian, does Whisper have too high of an error rate to even use it?

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When I’m going through the transcripts, I don’t lingQ every word, because some words you will never see again in your LingQ life. I do with the podcasts and stuff just because if I don’t and I accidentally press ‘complete lesson’ out of habit, it turns all the words the Known, which is really not what I want… But perhaps, at my level, I should start also skipping lingQing words while doing podcasts too. The reason for this I want to go through more content instead of looking up rare words in the dictionary.

I also use the levels. It’s not necessary though. Perhaps it’s a waste of time and I should consider scrapping that practice. Hmmm… Thanks for the question.

I think I’m an outlier in terms of Lingq users, but what I do is read a book / listen to a podcast series. Then I review all of the lingqs from the book/podcast using the flashcards. Then I listen to an audiobook (if I can find it) or re-listen to the podcast. Because it takes a while to listen to a complete audiobook, I’m now considerably behind in reviewing lingq from old books, but I don’t care. Some space between the original read and the audiobook seems good to me.

I do not use the SRS scheduler. Nor do I care that I end up with known words, on account of the reviews, that I sometimes have to “demote” when I see them again. That just means I get to review them once more via flashcards, and then re-review them in context.

That’s my workflow. I have no ideological commitment to this, no theory on why it’s good. It’s just how I do things.

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100 percent if your gonna go the srs route use anki and look into some optimized settings. Anki is a super power really, add audio to it using like ttst or whatever its called and make sure you make cards both ways and your ability to speak will skyrocket.

I used to just say fuck it and study as many new cards as i want but as you can see after time it get overwhelming. Now i make sure to do all the new cards from my italki classes no matter what and only 10 new cards a day so it doesn’t get ridiculous.

I can knock out all my cards in like 30 mins or so and throughout the day thats not hard at all. I like to go on a walk and do them.

I also recommend looking into the migaku retirement mode, cause if you can remember a card after a year or you really don’t need to practice it. And if / when you forget it as soon as your re hear it you will remember it again. Cause remember going through content is basically doing srs.

Past the intermediate stage if you dont have much time just keep going through content and kind of use the 1 to 4 known feature as a srs flash card.

I’m actually not sure about Whisper, I haven’t played around with it. I’m guessing it would though since it’d have so little data to work with.

As far as Anki goes, I completely agree. There is no better spaced repetition software out there. I used Anki religiously when I first started with Japanese and it helped immensely. At this point though, I like LingQ’s SRS specifically because it retires cards super early (like way too early if I was first starting out). I’m at the point where I can converse decently, though it still takes some effort. I like that I have the ability to add new words and phrases, study them for a very short time, and then give myself a chance to forget them. If they don’t come up again in conversation or in content that I’m consuming, then I figure they aren’t that important. This way I can add 30-50 new LingQs per day without getting overwhelmed with too many reviews… although there are still quite a lot of them.

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