Best Practices / Keeping Engaged

Hey guys,

I’ve been quite focused on learning French on LingQ for two months now. I’ve come a long way, but I regularly find myself getting a little frustrated. I wanted to share my ideas about dealing with that frustration, and also ask the rest of you for your advice.

Finding content that is close enough to your level where you can understand the context without being overwhelmed with too many unknowns is super important, and finding content at that level that actually interests you is extremely important. I’ve created some lists, and when I come across content that’s interesting but is too advanced, I add it to a “come back to this course later” list.

Sometimes if you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, just put studying aside for a bit and go do something else. If you’re tired, frustrated or unfocused, the learning isn’t going to stick.

When you’re frustrated or feel like you’ve run out of interesting material that’s at your level in LingQ, try something that might at first seem a little too simple, but something that looks like fun. It might be a simple little story with a funny twist - a story that might amuse you if you heard it in your mother tongue. That bit of amusement gives a shot of oxytocin, and so does the feeling of reviewing a lesson that you don’t have to struggle with. Those moments get you back in the groove.

One thing I haven’t been able to master is repetition. Doing the same lesson multiple times just removes all the fun for me and I’d rather be doing nearly anything else. I know that repetition is super helpful for many people though - any advice on how to make repetition fun and engaging? Or better yet, does anyone have any workarounds?

I could keep going forever, but I’ll end with one other thing. You’re looing for sweet spots. You want the area where you’re not pushing too hard that you get burnt out, and you’re not taking it too easy that you’re making progress. Look at what you’ve accomplished - slowly, bit by bit, day by day - instead of what you don’t yet know or what you can’t yet do.

That’s it for now! How do you keep the stress and frustration out of your language learning?

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You just know that the language will eventually come, so you don’t worry about it. The main metric you should be following is time-spent-with-the-language (so listening hours and words read). There is no frustration with that, because it always goes up.

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Screw repetition. The only repetition I can stomach is if I watched/listened to/read something that I barely understood, then return to it months later and understand most of it.

Beyond that, I won’t repeat any single thing. I go for breadth. That means that I’d rather expose myself to a wider library of materials in my target language, even if I understand less. Your brain will put it together for you this way.

I love to listen to content in my target languages while I’m doing dishes or similarly boring activities, like podcasts (if I’m more advanced in that language) or the news (if I’m less advanced). I like this split because the news tends to use correct grammar, and podcasts use common spoken language that is confusing to learn early on.

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Yes, if lessons are short then I put them in my playlist so that I can listen to them later on. That’s my repetition. Also with a long book, I deal with it in two steps. Step 1: I follow the ultra reading while listening approach, simultaneously checking up on the meanings of unknown words. I do not care if I miss out on actual meaning I keep going. Step 2: I listen to an audio/audiobook in a solo mode and try to give my full attention to whatever is being said by a narrator and try to understand as much as possible of it. In sum, I listen to the same book twice. Thats my workaround with lengthy books. To be honest, this way I do not feel burned out.

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Keeping engaged - try to read/listen to something everyday. Even if it’s just 5 minutes. If you don’t have time that day, or you’re stressed with other things, take a break! But most of the time, one can fit at least 5 minutes…bathroom time, standing in line, listening while driving, or listening while doing chores. It’s EASY. Keep sessions to a limited time. Find what you’re comfortable with. You can make progress with any time frame. It might just take longer. I’ve said it before…I’ve probably averaged at 10-15 min a day over the course of learning German. I’ve made huge improvements, but it has taken a few years. I’m patient though, it will come. I’ve not stressed myself. I’ve enjoyed everything. I do spend quite a bit more time at my current level. Probably engaged about a half hour to an hour a day. Mostly because I can do a lot more listening and get something out of it from a podcast, or youtube video. Then supplemented with some reading (still probably averaging just about 15-20 min of that a day.

Keeping engaged #2 - Find things that interest you. If it’s not interesting, then you’re not going to stick to it. If you can’t find anything interesting to read/listen, then frankly I’m not sure there’s a chance you’ll be able to learn a language unless you are motivated in some other way.

Repetition - It isn’t necessary. I think it can help though, particularly in the beginning stages. I don’t do it at my current level, but did a fair amount in the LingQ Beginner 1-2 stages and a bit into the LingQ Intermediate 1 stage. Beyond that I think I pretty much stopped the practice (mostly because the content becomes much longer which is one of my criteria)…My criteria for something that is “repeatable”…It must be short. Preferably under 5 minutes, but can squeeze up to 7 min or so. I was able to find a lot of short content in the 1-2 min range through to intermediate levels…assimil, nachrichtenleicht.de, books with very short chapters. Generally I might read these a handful of times and listen to them a handful of times. Also, I wouldn’t repeat these all in one go. I’d read/listen to it once. Put it away for a few hours and then maybe come back to it again, or the next day. Content that had a lesson longer than 5 minutes I generally wouldn’t repeat. Too much of a slog, particularly if it is above your level.

I think repeating LISTENING to a lesson you can continue to do, regardless of the length (if you want to). If it’s boring, don’t do it. If you find repeating anything boring…don’t do it.

Alternatives, if you want some repetition of yellow words. Open up the lesson and jump to the yellow word. Read the sentence and possibly the surrounding sentences to see if you can recognize the word in context. Adjust the “level” of the word as you deem fit. Jump to the next yellow word. Read it in context. Mark it known or change the level appropriately (or leave the same). Jump to the next and so on. To me this is a great exercise. You’re not having to read the entire lesson again. You can review words that may be giving you trouble, or get a chance to mark words known. Even on a long lesson, this exercise won’t take you very long (unless every word is yellow =) ). So it isn’t really boring. To me, it’s way better than SRS because you can get the word in context and read as much of the surrounding context to potentially help more…unlike SRS which either just has the isolated word, or it may have a sentence that doesn’t really give a good “hint” or anything interesting to latch on to the word that might help you remember. I confess, I don’t do this hardly at all anymore as at my level, I just want to read something new, but in the intermediate levels I would do this a fair amount. Kind of a stepping stone out of the full repetition phase as I started reading long articles that would be too much of a slog to repeat in their entirety. Caveat – This may inflate your read word count with the new system. If it bothers you, you can go to your daily read word stats and adjust downward by some amount.

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Thank you. :slight_smile:
Yes, that’s what I go for: don’t repeat, just consume lots of material.
…I’m still on the news phase of learning French - no podcasts yet! I’d love to see LingQ mention little things like that in their lessons. It becomes obvious pretty quickly why one is simpler than the other, but knowing that bit of info early on would save some frustration for a lot of people.

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That’s super helpful - thank you!

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One thing it took me a while to learn is that it takes a while to be able to enjoy the language. I’m over a year in in learning German and I’ve finally started to enjoy the language but I’ve still got a long way to go. Still so many things I don’t understand but I know that is part of the process of learning. My advice is take it day by day and don’t worry if you’re enjoying the language knowing that if you do that you will eventually be able to enjoy the language.

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This really varies. Currently I’m learning Hebrew, Russian, and Swahili, and I liked each one to a different level in the beginning.

Hebrew was ok, a bit weird, but fine. Didn’t love it or hate it. The more I understand, the more I like it because it feels more like my language rather than a language I use.

Russian is very relevant where I live, so I hear it day to day. But when I decided to learn it I absolutely couldn’t stand it and had to force myself to do the requisite daily lesson. It’s gotten a bit more enjoyable now that I understand several common words, but I’m still not a huge fan of Russian without a native Russian speaker in front of me.

Swahili I love. I had 0 exposure to it until I decided to learn it, and it just felt natural to me from the beginning. It’s my language of choice to listen to when doing things around the house (I make sure to listen to the others too :blush:).

I only know a few words in German, but I’ve always had the feeling that I will know German one day, like it’s supposed to be easy for me personally. Jury’s still out on that one, it isn’t on the horizon anytime soon.