How much listening time are you shooting for each week? What's ideal?

At how many hours of listening do you feel like you’re really starting to become proficient?
LingQ Should add ribbons for listening time, like they do for Known Words!


In French, B2 to C1, I do two hours a day listening. During one of those hours I note down interesting phrases and look up words. In German, beginner A2, I don’t do listening per se, I do simple lessons, one hour a day. There is no point listening when you only understand 10%.


As much as you can fit in!

I’m at 500 something recorded hours (mostly manually entered). Always getting better, but I don’t feel proficient. I don’t always know what’s going on in a native level conversation…at least not to a nuanced level. I also probably have another 500+ hours of German TV…various “law” soap operas, documentaries, shows, reality tv, movies. With subtitles I’m ok for the most part. Documentaries are also much easier to follow than the others.


Wow Eric 500 hours on LingQ and another 500 odd hours watching shows is really impressive!

1 Like

Where can I find shows in German?

1 Like

I recommend something special: This is “Sach- und Lachgeschichten” for children, made by people who believe that children only can learn from high-quality input.

German public TV is on

In case this is blocked in your country, try which is a public German-French station.


The problem is that “hours of listening” is, unfortunately, too general a metric.

Even if we know that there is no precise line between active and passive listening, we can certainly understand the difference.

If we only examine active listening, we have to consider other parameters as well. For example, reading + listening is a different experience than just listening while watching something. Active listening to a podcast is not so easy; most of the time we are doing other things or our mind wanders a lot.

I read a research paper that talked about sustained effort. The ability to sustain a higher intensity of effort is what makes the difference in improving our performance.

To do that, we need physical and mental energy and a set of conditions that are not the usual trends that most people live with, especially if they are not young anymore.

Now that I’m more focused on just one language, I can definitely start to put more emphasis on these metrics with more clarity. I’ve started adding my listening time to LingQ to better evaluate my progress. I’m probably listening for about 1 or 2 hours a day, including all types of listening. In the last 3 months, I’ve done 130 hours, but I haven’t written it all down.

However, I believe that quantity is not really a parameter, but rather the quality of our listening time. I could listen forever without improving much if I didn’t do anything specific to work on this skill. For example, by increasing my concentration while listening, increasing the difficulty, or changing the category.

This is such a difficult, if not impossible, metric to measure. A person who is able to maintain a really high level of focus will get a lot more results than the average person. At least, I believe that to be true.

Pairing the latter with the best technique could do wonders. Unfortunately, I don’t have either.


How much listening time are you shooting for each week? What’s ideal?

It depends on your strengths, weaknesses, and priorities on how much you can and should dedicate to listening comprehension. It also depends on the languages you know and are learning and how you study. For the languages I’ve studied and are studying, and with the technique I use, vocabulary keeps being my chief focus. I’m yet to reach a level, where I consider vocabulary to not be my biggest weakness, hence the main area I focus on.

For my newest language Russian, my only form of study is watching YouTube videos with dual subtitles with Language Reactor, so I practise my listening comprehension simultaneously as I’m focusing on vocabulary acquisition. Over the last three months, I’ve recorded 106 hours of reading while listening. This equates to an average of just over an hour per day. Some days I study only 20 minutes or even miss a day, while other days I do several hours, hence it averages out. Using the reading while listening with dual subtitles to informal, word-dense YouTube videos technique, I see very obvious and clear gains in my vocabulary, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension.

Depends, depends, depends. Just aim for 100 hours of listening above what you have. You will see gains every 100 hours. You probably need at least 500 hours to be decent. It’ll take several thousand hours at least to be close to your mother tongue.


@nfera Could you explain, with a little bit more details, what’s your procedure with YouTube, Language Reactor and LingQ? What’s the strategy that you’re using now? Thanks

1 Like

You’ve made good points. As is often said, listening while reading a transcript should make up part of one’s listening schedule as it trains the brain to recognise speech. In the past I struggled to understand simple speech, it wasn’t the words or the grammar, they were easy. It was the recognition. I do one hour a day for French.

Regarding finding it hard to listen to a podcast, I walk in the countryside for an hour on the days when I’m not skating, and that’s perfect for listening to podcasts. And it is good for the health. It’s pleasant even in winter when it’s raining cats and dogs. On skating days, I listen to podcasts in the car going to and from the rink. You’re right, we all tend to drift off into our thoughts. My solution is to listen to compelling content. Films can be good too.


Yes. Exactly right. Your point about active vs passive is right on. There’s also a difference as it relates to material. 1 hr of a podcast is going to be much denser in word count than 1 hr of movie or a tv show. I know for example 13 minutes of the Easy German Podcast is about 2000 words. 13 minutes of a movie is likely half that or even lower.

That’s why I’m not adding in tv shows or movies really anymore…or I might but I’ll reduce the time as it is not “dense” time. Also, if I am listening to something while doing chores…if I feel like I’ve missed just about everything (maybe I had to concentrate a little too much), then I might not count it at all.

Either way…it’s really just a rough estimate of what I’ve done. Just like the other metrics to see that it is going up and for rough comparisons with others if they’ve mentioned them in their own language learning journey.

All I know is that I have a lot more listening AND reading to do. =)

edit: Oh, also, I’ve been trying to focus more on conversational and non fiction type of listening. I like the fiction books, but I feel like it is better to listening to more conversational material at this point for myself.


Lots of places.

Prior to this year Frontier/Verizon FIOS had a German package. That’s where I had done most of my watching. This package is gone now, so we had to figure out where we could find programming.

Best choices right now are:

Netflix - Quite a fair amount of tv shows and movies. There is also a lot of dubbed/subtitled content in German of many of the tv shows and movies available on Netflix in general. Actual German TV shows - Kleo, Dark, Dogs of Berlin, etc.

ARD Mediathek - Free and great. There’s an app you can use to watch on android or netflix. From ipad you can cast to Roku device. Or you can get a google chromecast or equivalent (I have a new ONN brand device) that does Google TV…you can install android apps, so install ARD Mediathek app on that and you have tv on your tv! In any event, you have access to all kinds of shows even without vpn. If you want to watch live and many shows you do need a vpn (I use PIA) pointed to a German server. Lots of cool shows. We like “reality” type tv shows here - Mittendrin (shows the goings on of workes at Frankfurk Airport), Feur und Flamme (firefighters in action), Quarks (science show). There’s some other similar tv shows like that. Babylon Berlin series is great (used to be on Netflix as well). Various drama series and movies from all the regions. (WDR, SRR, BR, etc.)

Youtube - You can find many, of the content from the ARD app on youtube on various channels as well. BR, WDR, etc. have channels. I know you can find Mittendrin, for example on WDR channel in a playlist. Deutche Welle youtube channel still puts out Documentaries and other items.

You can also get the ZDF app and there are lots of tv shows for that as well.

There’s really an amazing amount available.

1 Like

You can try, but at the end of the day it is always split attention. Walking without distractions is probably one of the few situations where our minds can focus more on listening. But driving, skating and many other activities are definitely taxing.

I do more or less the same with the time I add to LingQ. I always try to reduce the time I add to reflect the loss of concentration due to split attention, especially if I had less energy when I was listening.

I hear you about conversational material. There is a lot of content out there, but it is not always easy to find the right one for different situations. Even worse is the gradual increase in the level of difficulty. I think we all try our best to find the right material. Probably some subjects should be challenging in order to make our minds work hard, but others should be interesting because we like them. So, at least we are feeding different parts of our brain—being, pleasure and effort, aa few of them.


Sweet! Thank you for sharing Eric.


no problem mark!.

Here’s another thread of ideas to checkout:

Good german TV series to watch for helping the language learning process ? [Netflix / Disney+] : r/German (


No. I can focus quite well on a podcast or video. If I get bored, I change podcast.

No, I find it easier to listen while driving, with the condition that they are long straight roads e.g dual carriageways. Driving helps me focus on the general rather than details. I think it;s because I split my attention between the road and the podcast. I don’t know if this is more or less effective than listening while walking. I suspect it works in a different way. Having some background noise helps train my ears,

I don’t listen while skating, that would be dangerous.

1 Like

It’s the same technique I’ve been using for Russian since the start of the year, that is, watching YouTube with dual subtitles with Language Reactor. I try and read the Russian subtitle, and when I don’t know a word, I quickly scan the English translation line. For my Russian, after 50-100 hours of beginner and comprehensible material at the end of last year, I moved onto lower intermediate material (Russian with Max) for 40-50 hours before moving onto native material. For the last three or so months, I’ve watched YouTube videos only from the interview channel вДудь (link), discussing politics and life. Now I’ve moved onto the let’s play channel MrLololoshka (Роман Фильченков) (link). I do very little repetition, as keeping with the same author and the same topic, the most frequent words commonly repeat. These videos I watch are word-dense with 8k-10k words per hour (130-160 wpm), as @ericb100 was mentioning. They are also improvised conversations, which is the vocabulary I’d like to focus on. As you and @LeifGoodwin were discussing attention, I am only doing active study, and I find watching the video of the interview or the let’s player at the same time highly focusing. I also get visual cues to anchor certain words to emotions and images.

So all in all, I consider I’m getting high quality (with high focus and visual cues), high quantity (word-dense, no faff with making definitions, etc.), challenging (native material), and highly motivating (interesting content) study. I’m focusing on conversational vocabulary acquisition, but simultaneously improving my listening and reading comprehension. And I know it works, as I notice all these things vividly improving. (I’m currently at 270 hours of recorded listening, 90%+ would be reading while listening, and 50% of it would be from native material.) I even had my first full-fledged conversation for over three hours the other day, chatting with a native Russian speaker I met. I’m very satisfied with my current approach.

(As mentioned before, I consider this approach to be appropriate from the beginner level to perhaps B2+/C1. Once you get C1, this approach is no longer as effective, as it’s too easy. Also, once you get to C1, vocabulary may not necessarily by your biggest weakness, so best to do techniques to directly address your weaknesses.)

Honestly, I’m almost feeling as if I have perhaps more progress with a similar time investment than I did with Italian, a language with more cognates and which uses the Roman alphabet. (My approach for Italian was reading while listening on LingQ, lingQing words, and being more progressive in my content selective, plus ‘passive’ re-listening.) It’s hard to compare, but maybe I should see if I can find a test. If I can converse with someone for over three hours about a range of topics, I’m at least A2.


@nfera thanks for the long explanation. Follow-up questions to better understand your workflow:

You watch Youtube with Language Reactor with dual subtitles. How do you find the quality of the subtitles?

Do you stop at each sentence? And repeat some sentences? Or you just continuously watch the video bouncing with your eyes up and down? Or stopping here and there?

Do you speak at the same time when you watch the video to improve your pronunciation?

I’m trying to understand the way you are using Language Reactor compared to the way it was built for.

Do you import the transcript on LingQ and study it for building vocabulary?

1 Like

Quality of the subtitles depends on the individual channel. You can find some channels with perfect subtitles, like the two channels I’ve been using. They are all manually proofed. As good as any Netflix movie.

I just watch it like a normal video. Only if I miss something important do I skip back. I just keep moving forward. I couldn’t tell you the definition of every word in the sentence, even after reading the Russian subtitle, then quickly scanning the English translation. I’m going for an understanding as a whole, like the vibe of understanding what’s said, even if my understanding comes from the English translation, then a large quantity to let my subconscious do the work. Sometimes I probably end up reading too much of the English translations, but I don’t mind, as I’m still learning.

No, never.

I import all videos into LingQ to add 1x listened and 1x read for my stats. Sometimes I go through a few pages of the transcript, adding new lingQs and moving words I am familiar with to level 2, but I don’t consider it the best use of my time. More a semi-trivial way to procrastinate. And it’s kinda boring. A few times, I’ve gone to my Vocabulary list, filtered for level 2 and 3, and marked words as Known (hence why I have 2,300 Known Words at the moment). This, too, I deem is not the best use of my time as well, but it makes me see a growing Known Word count, so it adds to my motivation. I consider my real study to be what I do with Language Reactor on YouTube. The rest is just faff. I’m pushing for quantity, quantity, quantity in my current setup of word-dense, conversational YouTube videos with dual subtitles.


@nfera thanks again.

With subtitles, I meant the Language Reactor sentence by sentence translation. I don’t know what engine they use to translate on the language of your choice.

I need to go back to my notes, sooner or later, to make a plan for this as well.

1 Like