How long did it take you to notice improvement in your language learning ability?

So, I started learning German about 5 days ago and till now, it is all wishy washy. I remember a few words for short time and then it is all wishy washy.
I love Mini Stories and Flashcards feature of this platform. Curious to know about your journeys! And how much time do you guys give to language learning?

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Well, I didn’t quite believe it to be this dramatic, but your first language is the hardest you’ll learn (not counting your native one(s) but obviously it takes you 3 years just to string a sentence together there XD )

Nah, but for me, it was French and 6 months, I had been incredibly laissez-faire with my French, never really touching it at all after the second month. Yet magically, six months later, I felt like I could grasp gists of it that I’d never been able to understand before. I didn’t understand any content, but I knew kind of what was going on, and just understanding the topic felt amazing to me back then. I’ve heard Steve Kaufman bring up the topic of “gestation” before, almost like yeast you need to allow your language to settle before it’s noticeable.

It has varied from language to language, but with intensive studying two months have been enough to realize a marked improvement, all up until like 6 months.
I would argue that it is pivotal for your sake to write a diary marking your emotions, self-assessments and feelings regarding the language once every week or month. Because it is SO easy to think everything you know is “obvious” sometimes now I’ll read entire books in French and due to how similar it feels to English I completely disregard these skills and think all the words were so similar to English anyways. By writing your skills down, you’ll realize these developments before you actually internalize them.

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so true about it seeming too easy/like you havent achieved anything at every step up the intermediate plateau and forgetting how difficult it was to understand

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I always see an improvement around 90 days mark. Since I am living in Germany I always get instant feedback after 90 days period. Some Germans used to be incomprehensible but all of a sudden when I cross 90 days challenge, they always become comprehensible. Progress is not linear, the rest assured, your subconscious mind is doing processing behind the scenes. Check your progress after a period of 90 days or so . Not every day, not every week, not every month but keep the same hardcore intensity. That said, joining 90 days challenge can be a good disciplined incentive if you suffer from procrastination and not disciplined per se. Therefore, it is a good idea to sign up for it. I always go for it.

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I notice a decent improvement in my Greek for every 100,000 words read.

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When I first started learning German, I noticed that the general patterns (conjugations, cases, word order, roots of words) started making sense after about a month of studying ~30min / day (plus listening to music daily - more on that later). I found that I was able to have very basic conversations by myself. Around that time, I decided to hire a tutor, and I was surprised with how naturally/fluidly I could form basic sentences (but I mean VERY basic and still with errors and stuff - I’m basing this off of comfort level with the language rather than accuracy). After that, my understanding skyrocketed, mostly with help of my tutor (whom I met x2 / week) and listening to German music every day (I probably clocked at least an hour of music every day during my drive to and from work). Listening to music was actually what made the BIGGEST difference in making German finally click for me. It helps to find something you enjoy so much, you can’t help but try to sing along!! After singing a lot of nonsense, you begin to notice common words/phrases/sounds, and words that stick out in a song become easier to remember.

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Definitely this, just conjecture here, but I’ve checked some of the top profiles on LingQ for various languages and whilst it varies immensely there seems to be a loose trend that people are “done” after 1-3 million words of reading on LingQ. I’m just hypothesizing there, but I think Kaufmann mentioned some other language who mentioned that being the ‘magic number’ for fluency once or so.

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Every 1000 hours of listening and every 100 hours of speaking at the intermediate stage. :slight_smile:

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I started learning German by memorizing a phrase book while I was traveling for 3 months in Germany. It took a few weeks before I started to understand some of what was being said to me when I asked for directions (which I did a lot). After 3 months, I was able to confidently ask directions, check into a youth hostel, buy train tickets, buy groceries, etc., and understand the basics of the responses I got in those situations.

But that is the fastest way to learn, so it won’t go as fast for those learning outside Germany.

Just keep plugging away at it - at first you’ll seem to forget a lot, but you never actually forget - all the words you learn stay in your brain, and the more you read, the more you’ll be able to recall them. Slowly their meaning will become less fuzzy, then clear, and eventually you’ll be able to read books and watch movies, and speak confidently.

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Fascinating idea.

I’m incidentally at 1.1M words of French read on LingQ.

If I take my LingQ French profile, and change it to “all time,” the profile progress bars reflect “done” for words of reading, words of writing, and hours of speaking. For known words, I’m at ~38,000 of ~41,000. For LingQs, I’m at ~11,000 of ~13,000. For hours of listening I’m at 290 of 324. In 2024, I think I’ll close the gap on each of these LingQ metrics. I’ll also be able to finish the B2 courses on Lingoda.

While these are rather arbitrary goals, I’m also planning on taking the B2 exam at the end of the year. At that point, I’m going to consider French “done.”

I remain frustrated that my accent isn’t better and that I continue to make grammar mistakes with the less common conjugations. That said, I try to remind myself that getting to a B2 level without ever living in the culture is an accomplishment.

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For German per day I do 30 minutes in LingQ and 30 minutes with Anki.
For French per day I do one hour in LingQ, 15 minutes Anki and one hour listening to podcasts (LingQ cannot import those).

I notice continual improvements.

A few months ago I struggled with understanding French films, now they are still hard but I’m picking up quite a bit. And to be honest I struggle with American films in English, my native language, so I’m quite pleased with my French. Last year I could follow podcasts for French learners, not so much native podcasts. Now I get many if not most native podcasts.

German was a nightmare. I really felt as if it was progressing slowly. I could not remember words as they were so alien. Then after a year it felt as if things were clicking into place, I suddenly started remembering words. I could create simple sentences myself, and sometimes guess right. It’s hard, my level is low, but I’m making progress, that’s all that counts. I need to learn vocabulary, until then all podcasts are a no no.

Language is all about exposing yourself to as much content as you can, and making sure you understand it. After a while you remember the words, then the grammar starts to make a bit more sense, it becomes a bit easier, and so on.

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We all need subtitles now!!!

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If you don’t mind me asking, how did you manage to get the grammar in place? As I mentioned earlier in the thread, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come and my grammatical mistakes in French are constant. I doubt I can even produce one sentence perfectly in writing. So to end up where you are now would genuinely be a privilege!

B2 is most certainly an achievement for anyone! And the subsequent level (C1) is perhaps mainly distinguished by those errors disappearing. As for your accent, there are multiple courses which aim to eliminate this. Try searching for “accent reduction” or ask someone who’s French to write down your problems and mistakes to focus on them alone. It is completely doable!

I’ve mainly used lingQ for my French and my output is the main struggle I hold. My pronunciation is clearly American-Swedish but it’s of no major concern. Did you do anything special or different from lingQ regarding listening, writing, speaking? Any advice would be much appreciated as I hope to reach B2 maybe next year. (:

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Don’t worry about your accent. As long as it’s not so strong that you can’t be understood, everything is fine. Also: What accent should it be? The one from Paris, from Tours, from Marseille? Each region has its own accent. There is no such thing as a “correct” accent in any language.
From your nickname I conclude that your native language is German. You have it there too. You just need to compare how people speak in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Bavaria, Saxony, Swabia, Austria, etc. I don’t mean the dialects, but the phonetic peculiarities that you can’t get rid of, even if you speak standard German.
There is no such thing as speaking “accent-free.” In no language. Not even among native speakers. Working on your accent even though you will be understood anyway is pure luxury!

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Comprehensible input got me part the way there for French grammar. I then took all the B1-level grammar lessons on Lingoda. That’s helped a lot. However, I only actively use subjunctive, plus que parfait, and conditional with select verbs, really just the most common.

I can not imagine how much comprehensible input one would have to come across to get enough repeats of exceptional verbs of those tenses to really be able to actively use.

For speaking, I’m using Lingoda and iTalki. For writing, I put an hour’s prep into every Lingoda lesson, doing all the lessons in advance, writing out responses to every prompt. I write (as in type) more than a thousand words of French every week. For listening, it’s YouTube and Netflix where I often import the content into LingQ.

One hundred percent of my personal LingQ use is with self-imported content.

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By the “be understood” standard, my French is great.

What I’m struggling with though is how much cultural influence the French put on their pronunciation.

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How long did it take you to notice improvement in your language learning ability?

As a beginner, you should see a noticeable improvement after 30 minutes to an hour per day for three months (i.e. 50-100 hours).

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I don’t quite understand what you mean by “cultural influence”. Does this mean the view of some French people who think that only the Parisian pronunciation is the real thing?
But that’s not your problem, but that of these particular French people.
Furthermore, many southern French and northern French are struggling with the same thing as you, namely the snobbery of the “central French”. So you’re worrying without any good reason and possibly wasting a lot of energy unnecessarily on this struggle.

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I think you just have to ignore that. My 16 year-old daughter’s interest in languages was ended by a single Parisian’s comment that her French was “not good”. Some people are just assholes.

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Indeed.

I think I’m being influenced by two other frames of reference.

First, English is my mother tongue and I work in a highly globalized work environment for a large, international company. Most the people I work with are working in English as a second language. I hear bad grammar, limited and bad word choices, incorrect register usage, bad pronunciations, failed colloquialisms, and more every working day. And it doesn’t really matter. We need everybody’s skills and participation as well as a positive team spirit among all.

Second, Japanese is my first second language. Years ago, I lived in Tokyo and worked substantially in Japanese. Other than doing things like going with my wife to the fabric and craft store in Japan, my Japanese was great for all social situations. In Japan, everyone who meets foreigners who speak their language well is blown away and you are given large, almost embarrassing, doses of recognition for your skills daily.

For the French, sure their are regional aspects but what I’m getting at is how important pronunciation is for them, as least when viewed from my English and Japanese frames of reference.

To the OP, how long does it take to notice improvement? Language is about communication. Ability is ability to communicate bidirectionally. Noticing the improvement is often through the feedback of the interlocutor. There are huge cultural aspects to the nature and frequency of positive and negative feedback for foreign language learners.