How do you focus your attention?

Do you schedule out your learning? I was curious if people read/listen to multiple lessons a day, or do you focus your time on just a few lessons? I find when I encounter a harder lesson that just a bit too difficult for me, I feel I should focus my attention on just a couple of lessons a day in order to get through it.

There are other days where I have a review only day, and I would go through multiple lessons to freshen up old vocabularies.

So, as far as learning goes, what works better for you, concentrating on fewer lessons or going through multiple ones?

Maybe I’m just putting it out there, but I almost never reread anything I’ve read. If I’m done with a Lingq lesson, I move onto new lessons. However, with listening (especially anything without transcripts), I will listen to the same audio at least 3+ times usually until I understand it well.

I read Japanese (or French or Polish, my side projects) every day for about 20 minutes. This usually allows time for a few short lessons, or if I’m reading a long lesson, I try finishing it over a few days. Maybe its attention span, or its a busy lifestyle :stuck_out_tongue:

If I’m at home long enough, I might spread out the time reading to a few sittings just when I find myself gravitating towards the Lingq bookmark on my Chrome.

Then, I spend about 20+ minutes circulating Japanese in my headphones or in the background while I’m playing games or doing any other work that doesn’t require too much mental effort. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you don’t reread lessons, you must be pretty proactive at finding new content, which I am not. Hence, why I reread stuff about 6-8 times or so to maximize the time.

I prefer multiple ones as it gives me sufficient variety to keep myself motivated. Sometimes I just go through a few ones, but if I do they are usually significantly longer and hence require more time.

I usually do not reread anything either as Triglawdyte, though sometimes I go back to the more advanced lessons I didn’t totally get. The lessons tend not to be interesting enough for re-reads or re-listening so I have little motivation to do so other than refreshment or to check progress.

Right now I go through a few basic books (sherlock holmes and a few self-help books) and Chinese news on the daily so I do not have major difficulty getting new reading content. I am struggling with getting listening+reading content, however, so I try to watch lax tv shows as some form of replacement.

My own personal 5 eggs based on much trial and error on my part over 15 years or more:

1.) As a beginner useful input has to be audio and it has to be comprehensible - no ifs no buts. (And I’ve tried almost every approach one can imagine - including some pretty funny experimental sh_t!)

2.) Any reading or writing seems to be of very limited benefit before one is able to understand the spoken language to some significant degree and to manipulate thoughts in the language.

3.) Learning lists of vocabulary is also exponentially more effective if one uses bilingual audio - either bought or self-recorded. Generally lists work best for nouns - especially if they are physical objects. It is very hard to learn a verb without an example sentence.

4.) At a more advanced level there is a kind of paradigm shift, and reading and writing become more beneficial - but that’s only after one is already pretty advanced by normal standards. (Speaking and literacy are almost two entirely separate things. As a student I knew two people who had grown up in a bilingual Anglo-German environment. In both cases, their spoken German was not far very sub-native level; their written German was actually weaker than the average foreign learner of the language!)

The first point is the real bummer. How can input ever be comprehensible - especially in the case of more exotic languages?

If one is learning a language relatively close to English (Spanish or Italian maybe) one could perhaps try massively listening to content where one has some existing grasp of the context, and the fog might eventually start to clear? In the case of more difficult or complex languages that will hardly ever be the case, I think.

What works for me is this: I take audio content (in my case from Assimil, Linguaphone or Buske - but it could be from any other course, or indeed from LingQ) and edit it using Wavepad Pro. I double up each sentence, I use the digital text-to-speech function to add in word-for-word English translations before each sentence, and then I have the whole segment repeated over without translations. If necessary I use the trim function to take out silences longer than about 1 second. If I’m feeling especially funky I might add a backtrack of jazz guitar at reduced volume too.

An example from an early lesson of Assimil Farsi:

Boy in home was. Pésar dar manzél boud. (Farsi repeated)
Mother came and said. Mâdar âmad va goft (Farsi repeated)
You where were? To kodjâ boudi? (Farsi repeated)
I in market was. Man dar bâzâr boudam. (Farsi repeated)

Pésar dar manzél boud.
Mâdar âmad va goft.
To kodjâ boudi?
Man dar bâzâr boudam.


This is listened to when walking, driving, sketching, working out, doing random chores, etc. It’s a fair amount of work to edit the files. But it’s for sure more effective than anything else I’ve ever done!

(It’s considerably easier to work with Glossika this way, because all one has to do is trim silences and add music as required - but the rascal wont get around to releasing Farsi, Urdu and Hebrew.)

Yeah I reread that much too. With a large lesson even if i have read it a couple times, it could still have 80 words in it.

Gee, Farsi grammar don’t seem that bad after all


But there’s so much stuff in Russian! Don’t reread anything unless you really didn’t understand the content.

Steve’s book, the material posted by evgueny40 and the ton of podcasts in “Intermediate2” are really interesting. It must be dreadful to go through material you already read.

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I don’t do lessons, i just listen to and read native content as much as possible every day. No schedule, just when time allows and i feel like it.

In my admittedly short experience, both (2) and (4) do not ring true to me. Once my reading abilities are strong, my listening and speaking skills usually follow quite rapidly. The main benefit in putting most of my effort on reading is the fact that you can use subtitling very effectively and hence be able to follow along the most advanced content you can find in your target language.

Ofcourse, if speaking is your priority this might not be the best approach. In importance I rank the four skills as follows: reading, listening, writing and only then speaking; and usually the time I put into both follow the same pattern

It may be that we all learn in slightly different ways? I am pretty sure that the above is what works best for me, but each to his own :slight_smile:

native content is the best. I usually read/listen to content a couple of levels ahead of me. i think it is the best way. it will slow you down if you read stuff exactly at your level

I reread stuff just for retention purposes, which is why I don’t do flash cards. Yeah evgueny’s content is great, but I’m trying to expand to different stuff like news, tech, and food, and his content is the only content that pops up when I browse through the library.

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When I mean lessons, I mean it like a LingQ page per se, rather than a literal lesson on grammar, tips, etc.

I try to listen to native content too. I’ve gotten to the level where I can skip the content geared towards learners but read stuff like the occasional news article.

Yeah, the grammar is really not that complex - no genders, very simple system of object case marking, reasonably simple verbs (certainly by comparison to many languages out there!)

The above sentences are from an early Assimil lesson, and things do get slightly more tricky as you delve deeper into it. But, leaving aside the problems of the Arabic script, it rates as only being very moderately difficult, IMO.

It’s a nice language.

For 1), this rings especially true for me. I feel like I need to listen many times to get a good understanding. I feel the need to listen until I understand at least half of it.

Many people here seem to only listen to things once and move on, whereas I’m the opposite; I listen to things upwards to 8 times! Either their skills are good, I’m doing something wrong, or?

Reading though, it takes me only about 3-4 times before I completely understand it.

Reading can give a false sense of security. Going back to the above Farsi examples, I might read it on the page and feel like it’s all 100% clear. Listening to it an hour later in my car, I may very well be missing some words if I were just listening to the straight target language audio. So it’s important to keep going back to it, over and over.

Having said that, though, I find it’s best not to overdo the repetition of any one segment within any given listening session. It’s better (for me anyway) to have a playlist of tracks, each track made from several consecutive Assimil lessons, and each one interspersed with some songs (preferably in the target language!) I’ll repeat the whole thing only once within any one session.

It always gives me a little private smile when I’ve got my earphones in, and people assume I’m listening to Katy Perry or some average gunk like that. If only they knew the truth, they be like: “huh…!?” :smiley:

Are you doing Assimil Farsi? I did it too some time ago. Notice that it’s written in formal/literary/bookish Persian. There are a couple of lessons in spoken Farsi but only late in the book
For me, Assimil was helpful as a complement to a more spoken-based beginning material. At least the fist two thirds of the method. After that it gets too formal and complex for a beginning book. I think it’s better to move to advanced/intermediate texts at that stage, probably in a bilingual version or with glossary.
My primary Persian beginner method was Spiderfarsi, which I studied alongside Assimil
It’s similar to Glossika in spirit and I did enjoy it (although you may or not like Yousef’s gimmicks)
I did parts 1 to three but I didnt’ get the alphabet part. I preferred to learn the script on my own

You can see some demos of the method at Yousef’s youtube channel:

I’ve been mostly reading Russian novels on Lingq for a while. I download them from litres and upload them to Lingq. I just read on, never looking back. I’m motivated mostly by the interest of the story. I just read and listen to isolated new words. Most of my listening practice takes place outside Lingq, either in conversation with natives or watching youtube videos

For me, novels are the best way to reach a high-intermediate and then advanced level. They’ve been my gateway to progress in all languages that I have learned. They’re interesting enough to maintain attention and challenging enough to skyrocket your vocabulary and comprehension. Besides their vocabulary is rich, useful and varied.
Of course, reading novels is quite hard in the beginning but you get used to it soon enough. The trick is to get comfortable not understanding every passage in the first stages. The goal is to just follow the story.