Getting to authentic content

We are hoping to get more and more content from our members, as has been discussed elsewhere. We also hope that this will enable more and more members to “finance” their learning at LingQ be earning points. Content created by members may be oriented towards beginners, or may be natural or authentic content such as natural conversations. We will see.

However much beginner content we have, there will always be a jump from “learner content” to “authentic content”. Authentic content uses more words, and is spoken more quickly. It is harder, yet it is more interesting.

I believe it is usually best to learn from content that you find interesting. That is what motivates you to continue, to acquire meaning and knowledge from the text, thereby acquiring the language.

What level of difficulty can you cope with. In my experience, I am able to cope with over 50% unknown words using LingQ, if I listen and read the same text over and over. Obviously the interest level declines the second and third time, but that is made up for by the fact that I am onto the real language.

What do others think? What do others do?

So far with French, my unknown word count for such content as the FrenchLingQ podcasts is around 20%ish, sometimes a little more, sometimes less. I find that an enjoyable level to cope with, as I can follow conversations relatively easily now and save words when I come across them every now and then. In fact, I’ve realised just in the past week after neglecting my French for a good two months, that I’m better than ever, having finally made a breakthrough in comprehension and I’m pretty sure I’d be able to handle myself in a conversation as well.

For other types of authentic content such as literature, the skill level decreases; I haven’t checked, but for the “greats” such as Proust or Balzac which I haven’t had the courage to attempt yet, I’d imagine the unknown word count would be up around at least 50% if not more. I’m certainly not going to kid myself; there are still a lot of words I have yet to learn.

I’m surprised you can tackle content with 50% unknown words. Maybe I’m just too lazy, but it would take a fair bit of effort to slog my way through content that difficult. Though having said that, I obviously did that in the beginning stage when I knew next to nothing, and it was definitely worth it.

Next stage for me is literature.

FrenchLingQ is around 40 or 50% for me. I tried the two first episodes, and now I’m inclined to work a little more with beginner content. It’s doable, but I didn’t like the experience of wasting an entire week on a content item and I felt a little overwhelmed by such amount of new words all at once. Also, I found some easy items talking about cultural aspects of France that are quite interesting, despite being aimed at beginners.
I should say my French studies have been a little erratic last weeks. I’m not sure if the difficulties prevented me from studying more or if the lack of study made the difficulties seem worse than they really were.
Anyway, from my English experience, I agree with Chris that having 20% of unknown words is an “ideal” percentage for learning. It’s challenging enough, while not too difficult to become boring.

I don’t have the exact figures (even an average) but I’m currently enjoying listening to the biblical texts in Russian, the latest of which contains 18% new words (I don’t think I have saved every unknown LingQ yet, though).

So, depending on content, the level may be as high as 40%, and if a lot of those unknown words are “just” different conjugations, adjectives, case endings et.c. everything is much easier.

I find 30 - 40 % unknown words to be optimum; ideally I can recognise 70 to 80% of these in context. So in a 1000 word piece LingQ recognises that I know about 600, and I can hazard a guess at a further 200. this is where I’m at for German with authentic texts.

I struggle in Russian because in most pieces in the library (I think 've worked through the “beginner” ones now, and i’m on authentic content and literature) there are about 50% unknown words, and they really are unfamiliar to me; that’s 500 new lingQs out of 1000 words.

Possibly with your greater exposure to Russian Steve you can make a stab at a lot more of your “unknown” words than I can!

I don’t like content with a high number of unknown words.
I think it depends on the knowledge of the language that one have and the goal that we have. My goal is only to understand better English and to be able to follow conversation. I don’t need English at work and so it is only a hobby for me. If content is too difficult and has too many unknown words I need to long to time to enjoy the content. So I prefer content with 10 to 15 Percent unknown words. That enjoys me the most. At the moment the object of the content is not very important. I prefer content with actual vocabulary. The problem with the audio books is that these are often old books with vocabulary from the past.
I like conversation and discussion or reports of the daily live because this content contains needful vocabulary and to increase my vocabulary is one of my goals. I’m interested in science but these texts are too difficult. But maybe in a few months I feel able to master those items :wink:

I note there’s a huge variation in speed. In the library are some items with about 400 words in a 5 minute segment (80 words per minute), that’s someone reading slowly and carefully for beginners.

At the other end of the scale, I have an audio book that I am working through, where according to the LingQ stats the reader gabbles nearly 2000 words in 5 minutes (that’s over 300 words a minute)! I wonder even native speakers can follow that!

I would imagine that 500 words in 5 minutes would be a comfortable speed. I wonder if I can use Audacity to slow the gabbling lady down?

Sure you can.

Just select all (Ctrl+A), then menu Effects → Change Tempo.
You can try to use different percent change value ( minus 30%, for example).

If you’re using WinAMP player, then you can use “tempo/pitch DSP plugin” to achieve comfortable speed. Such a plugin can be easily found at the WinAMP’s page:
(there are many of them, indeed).

I was hoping you’d sort me out, Vladimir! Audacity is truly an awesome bit of kit.

I’m still mulling over your suggestions for improving the quality of my own recordings. I’ll have another go tomorrow.

My third challenge with the jump from beginner to authentic content in Russian is that quite a lot of the new vocabulary I am encountering is not exactly everyday. For every three new LingQs I create, two I mentally label as “for further study” and only put effort into learning the third, which is an everyday word. So for every 25 new words I want to know, I have to take the trouble to create 75 lingQs.

With German, on the other hand, it’s the more obscure words (e.g. the names of the chess pieces) that make a piece interesting.

can’t you find contemporay books available in audio and pdf out there? Maybe you need to pay for both versions, but it’s worth the money, since you can spend entire months stuyding a single book.

Ok Ana, you force me to ask my next nerdy question: how can you convert pdfs to text you can upload to LingQ?

Vladimir, I bet you know!

I avoid PDF because I am unable to use it on LingQ. I look forward to learning how to convert it.

With Russian there is lots of usable e-text on the web. I do not know about German.

Unless the pdf is “protected” (ie, “locked”), you just need to copy and paste. There are some tools that promise to do the conversion to plain text, but they don’t work very well.
The other way, if you have the text in paper, would use a scanner with ocr conversion. Mine is a HP model which does a quite decent job. But it is a lot of work, to scan page by page…

Well, PDF formai was introduced to facilitate applying some restriction on e-documents (you know, a sort of “can’t copy” / “can’t print” etc), as well as to facilitate their distribution.

So that if some PDF is “protected” it’s by design that you may not be able to perform some useful tasks on it.
If it’s not protected you may be able to just copy here and past there, nice formatting being abandoned, though.

But there are various tools to solve such problems, wich could be found on the Internet.

I may suggest you take a look on ABBYY PDF Transformer ( ). I should (proudly) mention this product is developed by a Russian company, with many of its employees graduated the same instinute as me - the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology :slight_smile:

I knew you wouldn’t fail me, Vladimir!

Vera, have you tried listening to “chick-lit” audio books? These are light, humourous romantic books written for women who don’t want to have to think too hard. The plots are simple, the vocabulary is everyday (usually about shopping and men), and there is a lot of dialogue.

I went through a period of begging chick-lit from every German woman I knew, explaining that it was better for my vocabulary building than Goethe or Tolkien!

Thank you for your suggestions. If never heard the expression “chick-lit” before and I’ve searched for this expression. I think I will in some months come back to this idea. At the moment it is too hard for me and I stay the next months with easier content. But in 5 or 6 months it could be a good idea to look for such a book. Thank you. I think the main problem would be to get the text in a format that I can import. I try to avoid the work to do it by myself :wink:
Helln, which german authors did you read? I’m a little curious :wink: I agree that Goethe and Tolkien isn’t good to get useful vocabulary. Some time ago I started “Anne of Green Gables” in the English library but I give up because the vocabulary wasn’t ideal.

I like Susanne Fröhlich’s novels.

I agree that the hard bit is to get the text in electronic format.

That’s nice! I’ve heard the newest book “Lieblingsstücke” last week :wink: