Becoming fluent and using Lingq

Hi guys, I’ve got a year between now and my final year of studies at university and over the summer I have really taken an interest in languages especially French which I did study during high school but have forgot a lot but nevertheless still remember some content.

Currently I listen to each lesson until i can understand it throughout (beginning to end) which so far is about 150-200 times on average per lesson. I don’t mind doing this. I guess with time, the more lessons I cover, the time it will take me to understand each lesson thoroughly, will decrease?

How can I use LingQ to achieve fluency in French or at least obtain B2 standard on the CEFL. What other methods can I use to reach fluency? Time isn’t a problem either. I also have access to both GCSE and A-level resources here in England.

Much appreciated guys! Btw Steve if you read this, your Youtube channel is superb and totally agree with pretty much your philosophy.

If your goal is to achieve B2, you will need to learn a lot of words. I would not repeat each lesson until you know it. I would not repeat each lesson 150 times. I usually move on after listening a few times, except at the very beginning. I don’t wait till I understand all of a lesson. It takes time for the new words and usage patterns to sink it, weeks and months. It takes time to get used to the language. Move on to new and interesting content. This will be more stimulating for your brain and enable you to learn more words and phrases.

As to other programs, I would start reading novels and listening to audio books, or whatever interests you. I would also speak whenever I get the chance. Good luck.

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Much appreciated Steve, thank you

B2 isn’t only about reading and listening, so if all you are doing is reading and listening you’ll never reach it. Instead of repeating 150-200 times, I would repeat once or twice, and use the time I save working on conversation, writing, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

That sounds right thanks for your help. Today in fact, I cut down my 5th lesson to about 50 listens and that was fine (will aim for 20). I’m going to make a strong effort to try and write/type in the target language everyday as well as get through 2-3 lessons a day to get as much exposure to French as possible. Would you recommend doing anything else?

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Everything I mentioned in my post. I assume you are shooting for a well-rounded B2, since you didn’t say. The skills/things to learn for a language are conversation, writing, reading, listening, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. I’m not saying you need to spend equal time on each skill, but I am saying you shouldn’t neglect any of them.

If I had to guess, after reading this thread, it looks like your most lacking skill is conversation. But that’s just a guess.

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A focus on a B2-level can be a bit of a hindrance, imo - and any B1/2- type text material is probably worth avoiding. Interleaving native content (C1+) with the easier lessons you are doing (A2-ish) is a good approach, and studies show this quite clearly.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t get all of the native content - so long as you try engaging with this content early on - and it is something that is interesting to you personally (and you have the transcript), then you can always keep with it.

Listening and reading are big keys. 80% listening, 20% reading, and be adventurous with output when you get the opportunities works very well, imo - particularly if you use transcribed audio, where you can listen and then read to the same content.

If you forgot about trying to pass an exam, and just immersed yourself in native content, you will likely go further and quicker.

Conversation, is probably is my weakest since I don’t practice speaking to native speakers. Thing is, since I’m a newbie my vocabulary is limited making it hard to sustain anything for a period of time. What would you do to address this?

Yep I agree, massive exposure will enhance ability the quickest!

How much of a newbie are you? Although I start speaking on the first day (repeating native words and sentences), I don’t start conversing with natives until I have a few hundred words and some basic sentence patterns under my belt. I typically start conversing 2-3 months in.

I’ve recently gotten into the nasty habit of plugging Benny Lewis. I’m normally not a fan of his, but I think he gives some pretty good advice to people who are wanting to actually start conversing in a language. He has a strategy that allows learners to converse as early as they want, even from the first day. Google fi3m.

My strategy for quickly becoming a passable speaker in a language is quite simple.

  1. talk to natives on skype
  2. type out words and phrases that I want to use but don’t know or can’t remember during the conversation
  3. type out words or phrases that the native uses which I don’t know or can’t remember during the conversation
  4. after the lesson put all the words an phrases into an SRS

I usually do this for a couple months or at least until conversation is no longer my weakest skill.

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I have the most success listening to each lesson once a day.

The first day I run into a beginning podcast I study it and look at all the words and so I’ll listen to the podcast 2-3 times.

After that, I only listen once a day.

Most days I listen to more than 20 lessons. But I’m listening to each lesson only once. After 4-5 listens I’ll start skipping weeks before I listen again. I can’t think of any lessons I’m up to 20 listens. If I spread the podcast out over multiple days, it just gets into the long term memory faster.

Now that I understand most of what I read in the beginning lessons, I have been tackling some intermediate and advanced lessons. When I have a 500 word lesson and 80 of them are completely unknown … then I need more time to get all the words. I still only listen to longer lessons a few times the first day and then once a day after that.

I guess it depends on one’s conditions and motivations. But that seems like a great strategy for developing one’s speaking skills. Since I don’t live in the target country and won’t be going there for at least a year, I’m more than happy to just listen and read and perhaps speak if I get an opportunity to do so. With a largely developed passive vocabulary, I think with intensive conversation practice one’s speaking skills can develop rather quickly anyway.

If I were you I wouldn’t use GCSE or A-level resources unless you really like them, they generally teach you things that people don’t really say and are quite dull. I got to about a B2 (it’s hard to tell) in roughly a year without any sort of textbook apart from the first 20 lessons of Assimil (after this I got bored but it is a good resource for people with longer attention spans). These are some of the things I did you might like to try them and see if they work for you too.

When I started out learning French I watched youtube videos (made by native speakers for native speakers with French subtitles whenever possible). Because they are usually less than 10/15 minutes long, it isn’t as tiring as watching movies or TV shows, so you can watch the same video multiple times but not all on the same day! If you go down this route you will hardly understand a thing but once you start to understand just 10 consecutive seconds you will feel like a genius. If that was getting too hard I also watched kids cartoons like L’âne TroTro on a loop. I would look up the words that I could pick out in a dictionary but I wouldn’t stress out too much. There is a free site called rhinospike where people transcribe youtube videos which is helpful if there are no subtitles. Don’t bother with English subtitles, unless it is just on the first run through to get an idea of what is going on. The main goal is to train your brain to pick out individual words and get an understanding of how people really speak and behave (body language and stuff), so that when you have face to face conversations you won’t be as lost.

If you want to get to B2 you need to have a knowledge of a wide range of topics (not the ones on the test) so take an interest in as much stuff as possible.

There is a directory of French youtubers at but if youtube isn’t your thing try Le Petit Journal on or on their app. It’s a news show for people in and around their 20s I guess (a sort of more grown up Newsround which is actually entertaining). You can google the topics they are talking about/people they are interviewing to give yourself some kind of idea of what’s going on. There aren’t any subtitles but sometimes they put words on the screen and it kind of helps to understand what’s going on. It’s light hearted entertainment rather than serious news and it’s pretty funny most of the time. You can also watch a lot of other shows there for free. Click on the Emissions tab.

If you have Netflix and a VPN you can watch Netflix France (this is not against the law but it is against the Netflix terms of service as of April this year). There are a lot of French subtitled movies and shows, but if the film/show is dubbed the subtitles usually don’t match the dialogue so be careful about that. I watched kids shows like Wakfu, and French TV shows rather than dubbed stuff, but lots of people like to watch the French version of English language stuff that they are already familiar with.

I changed all my electronic devices to French, which meant most of my ipad apps switched to French (not fun at first) and I spent any other time I had listening to French music.

I would do all this alongside reading everyday, but I would never read without audio until at least 6 months in (except for Asterix, comic books are great for learning languages). Lingq is the best resource for reading and listening at the same time or shadowing audio.

I tried other sites like Memrise and Duolingo but that kind of thing didn’t work for me, although I did complete the Duolingo course. They both lack context and Duolingo has a robot voice, although there are whole sentences there (don’t try to learn individual words it’s not as effective). Sites like these are good for refreshing words which you probably learnt at school and have forgotten, but I also think they have a tendency to sap your time if you are not careful and I wish I’d noticed that sooner.

I also wrote and tried to get corrections from native speakers. You can use, which is a free spelling and grammar checker, before you ask someone to correct things for you, to cut down on your mistakes. When it finds a fault, it usually explains what you have done wrong but it’s like any spelling and grammar checker ie not perfect.

There are sites online and on youtube with dictées for primary school kids, these are good ways to learn spelling and grammar rules without too much effort, I only did a maximum of one or two a month if I felt inclined to do so, there is no point doing things like that if they feel like a chore. They are all for native speakers so I had to be at a level where I could understand the explanations. That is how far into the process I was when I started to care about studying grammar. You could also use Lingq for this, transcribe the audio and check with the text.

If you don’t like dictées there is a site called lyricstraining which plays a song and asks you to fill in the gaps in the lyrics which you can start doing from day one. It’s free and it is a good way to learn vocabulary as well as spelling. You may pick up on grammar rules by doing this but probably not. None of the lyrics are translated so you will have to look up words. The online french/english dictionaries I prefer are wordreference and reverso (Collins). Wordreference forums are good to use and reverso has a context search and a translator which are both handy tools (if you use google translate and it doens’t make sense, cross reference it with the reverso translator, but translators are not something to rely on a lot).

One thing I would have done differently would have been to talk to native speakers, or anyone with a good level of French, earlier. If you aren’t ready to talk out loud apps like hello talk or internet chat rooms are a good compromise. It gives you a lot of confidence and motivation to know that you are able to communicate with other people.

All that is really long so kudos if you actually read it. Not everything I did will work for you and maybe you have already done/or are doing those things. Just don’t try to force yourself to do anything and if something doesn’t work move on to the next method before you lose motivation. Don’t rule an approach out forever though, sometimes I try things again two months later and I actually like them the second time round.


I definitely think that is a good strategy. Language learning is a sub-conscious process so everyday you listen to the content you are getting gradually better as opposed to repeatedly listening to it over and over again until you understand.

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Apologies for the late reply, just seen this now! This was an absolutely fantastic reply with some great advice that I’m very grateful for. With regards to the GCSE material etc, I’ve barely touched it because I found myself writing lists of vocab which was tedious, unnatural and I just preferred simply to read and simply expose myself to a lot of the language. It would also mean that I’d have to keep going over material just to get it to stick in my head.

I haven’t done much outside of lingQ apart from the odd french video on youtube and a bit of French radio so I’ll definitely start getting my teeth into some content beyond this site, although I think this site is a fantastic resource especially compared to the other competitors! I agree that hellotalk is great app although I’ve come across some weird people on there haha. I guess if you can’t speak to someone in person, the thought process of writing is very similar anyway making this instant messaging app a good tool.

I’m not a fan of Memrise again I’d just rather spend my time reading on here etc. I think duolingo is not too bad since its sentence forming activities teach the basics of grammar and the like that I think is useful for beginners. The one most important thing i think is just to keep spending time with the new language and exposing yourself to new content to build up the vocabulary but doing it in a way that you can sustain for the long-term. Other than that, I will check out the links you recommended for sure, check out social media and obviously reading and listening every day to improve! Cheers for the post! :smiley: