How Much did You Push Yourself? And for How Long?

I know some of you did a full immersion for a brief period of time. I was wondering, how was it?

How much were you able to push yourself in learning a language, what did you do and how long were you able to keep up with your challenge? Why did you decide to do it?

I was also wondering if you get worthy results but also if you had negative backlashes. If you did too much and then you had to unplug yourself or risked burnout or something else.

Thanks.

PS: the reason I’m asking comes from other previous conversations. Before giving up I’m now contemplating to plan a total full immersion to bring myself to an advanced level and overcome that difficult gap in the middle. And also set a specific time and goal. It’s the last hope for this language.

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Cheer up man. You can eat an elephant only piece by piece, you’re not a boa constrictor. To get a piece too big is how you end learning.
I guess we all tend to grow unrealistic expectations from time to time. It’s ok.

I’d say that for myself the specific goal thing doesn’t work out because it seems to me as cutting the power of interest and ambitions down to something perceivable and comprehensible, only for the sake of having test-like criteria to evaluate one’s achievements and to say to yourself “man, you’ve done it”. To get the same effect I can just cut down the daily goals instead of the interest.

Specific time is working well, but not for the ultimate goal of learning, because I know too little to see the future clearly.

If you don’t have an interest in the language and the process itself, may be it’s a good idea to define a new reason to learn, and, according to this reason, set a new sustainable intensity. Or just stop and take the lesson out of this experience. External goals often let you down in the end because you have little control over them. Today it’s the covid-restricctions and you not being able to go to Germany, tomorrow it’s the other thing.

I’d take a week off to reevaluate everything about. But firstly, to reconnect with my own feelings, so that I can say certainly what I want, what I like and what I need to get it.

I usually don’t set goals but if the way we do doesn’t bring us any results it means there is room for change. Or one way or another. You either achieve the goal or you drop it and do something else. We can’t be stuck in a limbo forever otherwise we enter in a comfort zone that doesn’t help.

There are 2 appropriate concepts that I find useful in this situation:

  1. In a moment of confusion you don’t change what you’re doing.
  2. Before giving up try to give all you can, the best you can for a specific amount of time and then you see if you can succeed or if it’s not your thing.
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Don’t you consider the consistent growth of your vocabulary as a good enough result?

Disagree with the second one, it’s just a logical fallacy. Why justify giving up because you can’t get done the 100km run by getting done only the 20km? Extra effort would give you +20km perharps for more short time, but you’ll be still in the “intermediate plateau” (especially with German) with a lot of work ahead, while you’re already exhausted. It will be your thing when you put the required amount of effort.
Actually this term sucks, it’s not a plateau, it’s rather a mild slope which you’re getting up on.

I’ve tried a lot of times to push myself hard. All above the optimal amount is actually slowing me down, because of recovery. Yet there are some benefits of trying hard. But they are not the ultimate benefits that you seem to want.
I love English, but every time I try to apply force I end up starting to hate English and studying a little bit. It’s not what I want, that’s why I believe that only introducing fun and pleasure in your studying and the optimal distribution of your time sets is the ultimate way.

I’ve done gradual immersion at home, and I’ve done Full/Forced Immersion when moving to a country, and I can tell you that fretting about this is pointless. The question is: what is the actual goal of your full immersion? Is it just to get better, or do you have to go move to a country, or get a job in your TL?

If it’s just to “get to advanced level,” I think immersion can be useful if it stays fun. Pushing yourself too much is kind of pointless – you’re probably just adhering to some internet influencer BS pressure that you’re creating for yourself.

Instead, I’d just keep building up comprehension with reading, listening, and visual media, but keep a more comfortable pace, until you can spend more and more time being immersed without feeling the negative effects.

Really, “full immersion” happens when you move to a country. But if you’ve done above and built up comprehension gradually, the hard period of this forced immersion can be reduced.

With all my languages, I’m just working to build up at my own pace, knowing full well that I would be ready for forced immersion if it came.

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Full immersion has simplified my life; German has become ME. I have been at it for the last 20 months. I watch listen read in German. No time for unwanted thoughts or browsing Facebook or Twitter that time goes to listening to German. If it takes 15 minutes to eat my dinner I put on my headphones listening to something in German. If it takes me 30 minutes to actually get out of my bed in the morning. I keep my iPhone next to me I listen to a radio play on Youtube for those 30 minutes. Every little step adds up.
Right now I am writing this post at the same time I am listening to an audiobook in German.

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By “gradual immersion” I mean the usual suspects of reading and listening a lot. Books with audio for active reading times, audiobooks and podcasts for more passive listening times, and TL TV shows for more leisure time activities.

BUT, to me “gradual immersion” also means doing immersion smartly, and not forcing comprehension – contrary to a lot of BS advice on the internet.
What I mean by that is: Use assisted reading and listening and move towards unassisted gradually.
Use comparative reading and move towards unassisted reading.
Use NL subtitles at the beginning, then move gradually to TL subs, then no subs.
Use basic listening at first (Mini Stories, etc), then move gradually towards podcasts and audiobooks.

By doing this, your input always remains in the comprehensible range and you can gradually immerse in it more and more and eventually you can spend days just reading and watching TV in your TL without any assistance.

People burn out because they decide to do “Immersion” by bombarding their brains with material they’re not ready to comprehend yet. It’s basically what’s happening with David here in the original posts.

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@t_harangi: I usually do full immersion learning directly in the country (it doesn’t take me any effort at all) and I think I’ve already said that in other posts. But now the situation is different and learning a language at home without going to the country is a completely different beast. At least for me.

I have to say that I’m doing the minimum and at this pace it’s not enough to have a decent level on the language and I have to face it. I don’t want to be mentally engaged with this language forever. Or I have an advanced level or it’s not useful for me at all.

Believe me, I’m way past the internet influencers stuff. :smiley:

There are people here that are able to learn for hours every day. And I probably shouldn’t be here writing in English but more in my target language. I’ve just finished to watch a couple of episodes in English and I should do that in my TL. And so on.

Full immersion for me would be to decide to drop many other things I’m doing and just decide to go for my TL all the way. But it’s a lot of mental effort as well and needs to be planned.

The problem is that if I don’t shift method I’ll stay at A2 forever, too slow too advanced and it’ll be pointless. So one way to look at it would be to give it a deadline that would force me to reach a certain level before a fixed date and then the time is over.

I’ve never dedicated so much time “studying” Spanish, French or English but I’ve always learned directly in the country, working there, living with other people and doing countless activities. I feel it would be a pity giving up to German but at the same time I also feel I can’t keep this thing going on forever.

No, I don’t. I was thinking about that the other day writing it in another post. Yes, there are many known words but with many variations. So the effective words are quite low. Many of those words come from the connections with other languages and the real learned lingqs are quite low. If I wanted to achieve 50k words I believe that I would have to learn a lot of new words which means a lot of “learned lingqs”. Which means a completely different intensity on the language.

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@asad: this is probably what I should do. Not even this but maybe giving the language a chance to get there. The problem is that I’m in that sort of dead valley where there is a big step before becoming advanced and enjoying the language. But listening and watching videos seem too hard for me at the moment! But your way is the right one, if you can keep up with it is the way to go.

Agreed. It should be a gradual transition to other stuff. For the same reason Germans use my “active vocabulary” to express their thoughts. This way I get to expose to the same word in a different situation/context and the language becomes comprehensible to me at the same time.

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@t_harangi: just to clarify, I’ve never said what I do and how I do it, what I read and so on. Those might be parallels with other people that I think I’ve never mentioned.
But I agree that going back to simplier things could be a solution. In this case I’ll have to be able to tackle boredom which is a big thing for me.

Full immersion for me means using the language for hours every day. It doesn’t mean doing C2 stuff. A little bit what @asad wrote he does in another reply.

But still planned to achieve results and not random.

Ok, so shift methods then. But full immersion is usually not the recommended method after an A2 level. Again, gradual immersion and assisted reading and listening is where you want to be. Why is that not a good option for you? What is the hurry in getting to an advanced level in German?

With my languages, I’ve never studied 4 hrs a day – at most I spend an hour a day on studying / reading, the rest is just listening and TV time. You can get quite advanced doing that.

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I spend more time with English every day than with German. Without considering that I always use my native language with lots of things including writing! And I feel I’m not advancing at all, too slow and I’m even regressing if I do less. I’ve never studied 4 hrs a day either but I was always immersed in the target country without all the distractions I have here. I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud to see if something come out from this.

Well, I describe in short my experience with deep immersion, since the actual full immersion wasn’t possible at the time.
It was for 3 months along with the 90-days hardcore challenge, I would read up to 5 articles/podcasts/fables/fairy tales/reddit posts/ with a various density of uknown words (but not too much), that equals to 5K-10K read words.
Every article I repeat for 3 times (reading with looking up - reading with listening to - listening (1.5x speed as an option)).
Next day I would repeat for 1 time (looking at text and listening to).
The rest of the day I would listen to the same material more passively again and again. When I get tired, I would watch TV series or listen to Joe Rogan’s Youtube show for 2-3 hours.

Of course there was benefits of this intensity in terms of aquired words and comprehension in general. But I was on the cusp of a complete burn out and did nothing for the following 2 months. I’m kind of an expert in burning out, there was plenty of those in my life… At the time I didn’t believe I can pull myself together to go on.

@S.I. : thanks for your honest feedback and I understand it very well. Maybe I’m an expert to exhaust myself too. :smiley:

Probably the secret is to find the right material to be able to go for longer hours without burning out. I’ve been thinking that I might using the wrong stuff even if I think I like it and maybe I have to change topics, sources and method. In one way I get bored in another I feel forced. But something is telling me that there is the way. (*here there is the Mandalorian music playing). :smiley:

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It´s hard for me to remember exact numbers but I have at times become totally exhausted with LingQ. The most time I spend was probably somewhere around 4-6 hrs a day with French, but it was fairly early in my LingQ lifespan and I still had lots of drive back then. It should be apparent why I´ve burned myself out if you look at the stats I have after 2 years. My motivation can also drift quite a bit in seemingly random patterns. This fall and now this winter I have sometimes been quite burned out and found it hard to focus. I´d have taken a break but I´m trying to prepare a bit for my holiday trip to the Grand Canary by learning some Spanish and don´t dare to go and do much social stuff anyway in case I´d get covid just before the trip, so I don´t have much else to do anyway.

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Thanks @rokkvi for your sharing. I understand this randomness and I share it as well but I consider it’s not effective on me anymore in this moment and that probably a better organization would achieve more results. But it might be a mix of intensive training and period of relax with some specific goal in the middle.

I could see that by just reading a little bit every day is not bringing me anywhere, it’s not enough. Yes, I have more vocab but the progression is too slow if I don’t push it. And as soon as I stopped or slowed writing and listening videos I started forgetting the grammar rules I knew and that’s not good.

I have to push myself from that dead basic level valley until an advanced level or I’ll be stuck in the mud forever and I’ll lose my way into it. (this sounded poetic maybe because I’ve just finished to watch a weird movie!). :smiley:

I’m gathering some info before preparing a cocktail that I’ll have to follow. And I’m also trying to eliminate things and simplify other things around me so that I could have at least those 4 hours undisturbed every day for the entire week. I find it so difficult to not get distracted and to procrastinate on other things living in my own country and using my own language every day plus English.

I will have to consider placing a deadline which I feel already scary because it’ll push me to get serious about it.

It’s kinda a nice self-challenge though. To face the mirror and be real about it. I’ve been taking in consideration already all previous advice with gradual immersion, understanding the whys and so on. And they are all very interesting.

We’ll see how it goes.

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tldr: What is your current language learning right now? Maybe you need to tweak? How much listening are you doing–I hope LingQ stats aren’t indicative of what you’ve done. Listen more. Worry about grammar less.

Long version:

David,
I think rather than asking about pushing yourself and the effort given…What exactly are you doing on a day to day basis? You’ve learned other languages, but you say you’ve usually done them in the country. What are you doing now for German considering you are not in the country? Perhaps you need to tweak how you’re approaching learning the language? (Keep in mind these are just thoughts aloud, and may not apply to you or your situation and that I have no idea what you are currently doing).

% reading
% listening
% writing
% speaking
% SRS
%grammar
% other?

And for how long each day is your language learning time?

I notice you have just under 10 hours listening time in LingQ. I imagine you’re doing some listening outside LingQ, but how much? If you truly have only 10 hours listening, then that is clearly too few, but you should also be nearing 300 hours (if I go just by LingQ’s suggested? numbers). Reading is great an all, to acquire the vocabulary, but you also need listening to help cement things…and if you ever wanted to communicate, obviously you’d need to have lots of listening.

You also mention having trouble learning words that are not similar to your other languages. I also have that problem as I’m sure everyone does, it will come eventually. Maybe you’re being impatient? The other thing is, while you may be having difficulty getting those new words to stick, you are reinforcing the words you “know”. I’m sure there are plenty of words you barely “know”, and every time you read, listen, write, speak that words you are making it that much more ingrained so that you don’t even have to think about the translation. It just is. That is super helpful, in particular, trying to understand quickly spoken speech. You need to speed up that whole process.

You mention about forgetting grammar points. Maybe my thoughts will change, but I frankly wouldn’t worry about it all that much. I think if you are actively sitting down with grammar book and trying to “learn” grammar, that might not be the best approach. If you see something in your reading and listening and feel compelled to look up and understand why things are a certain way, by all means then look that up. I think it makes more sense in understanding and really learning the grammar when you can tie it back to something you know. And in the end, does the grammar really matter so much? Over time, will you not simply get better at it because you’ve read and listened to these patterns? Certainly this is all debatable, but to be honest I frankly don’t remember any grammar rules from school. The last bit of grammar I learned was probably in elementary or maybe middle school. Certainly by high school we weren’t being taught “grammar”. In our writing, things might be corrected and as we read or listened things start to sound right or wrong when we try to utilize the language. I think mostly these patterns you just learn and mimic.

OK, enough babbling by me.

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Hey @eric, thanks for your insights as usual.

You have all great points, let’s see one of them starting from the last one.

I think grammar IS important even if I don’t focus much in learning it because I usually constantly apply what I know and it becomes natural. But as you said, I usually learn directly in the country and it’s easier for me to go around in lots of free places and engage with lots of different people copying patterns, sounds and so on. Probably I’m a sponge like a baby in those circumstances which make easier for me to learn quickly.

Grammar is very important because I like to use a language in the best way I can. NOT in a perfect way but very well. I don’t like mixing Spanish and Italian for example. And in Spanish I like to use the subjunctive in the proper way. I don’t like to make many mistakes in written French and I don’t like to forget the S in every English plural word when I speak. Just a few examples on how I pay attention to some detail when I speak and I can only do it if I know and apply the rules.
I don’t get obsessed though because I don’t remember everything and it doesn’t bother me but that doesn’t mean grammar is not important overall.

In German, you know better then me, adjectives change depending on the gender and position, so do some nouns and there are rules for the sentence composition that are quite important. But when I read my tendency is to focus on understanding the concept of what I’m reading and not on all those gender rules.

So I realized that I knew the adjectives declension before and step by step I forgot them because I don’t pay attention to them. I don’t even pay attention to the noun genders when I read. As soon as I stopped writing I forgot basically everything. I was able to write something and now I can’t write anymore not even a sentence without being stuck.

Clearly, while I was thinking that maybe just by reading every day a bit was enough, the reality is that it’s not.

You are absolutely right that I don’t do enough listening because I find it difficult and super boring at the basic level and I don’t do enough on any of the other part. That’s why I was talking about pushing myself more.

And yes, tweaking and changing could be the right way.

In fact, I was thinking that maybe a key is that I’m totally engaging with the wrong material. I get bored too easily and I almost don’t have interest in anything. Boredom and mental efforts are two big obstacles. Maybe I think that I like some topic but the reality is that I don’t. Probably I have to go back to A1/A2 level stuff but with stories that I really want to keep reading.

I don’t know. I’m sure something will come out from this.

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