How much time do you spend on your language every day? How much can you learn in three months?

I would like to know how much time people are spending on their language learning per day. I would like get a feel for the relationship between the time people spend and their achievements over, say, a three month period.

In my case, I use an average of three hours per day as follows: My studies start at night, reviewing lessons, usually one hour (sometimes more). I create the lingqs I want to study the following day and download the lesson or lessons I am taking. In the morning around 7am I go over the flash cards for about 20 minutes. On my way to work (it usually takes me 30 minutes) I listen to a lesson until I get bored or reach my office. Whichever comes first. At lunch time, I try to go over my flash cards again to reinforce what I just listen in the morning. In the evening as I am driving home or to see some friends, I practice in my mind puting phrases together. I imagine talking to someone and that person is asking me things like: I haven’t seen you in a long time. Now, how should I respond? I am also lucky that I live in a community where I am surrounded by friends from Italy, France, Brazil and Russia.

Now to answer your question as to how much can you learn in three months? If we count an average of 20 new words per day times 90 days we have 1800 new words. That is not enough to be conversational. You might know all the basic salutations and ask a few questions, directions and even order some dishes at a restaurant but nothing pass that.

When I started German a couple of months ago, I started to learn vocabulary that I am going to use on an every day basis including nouns, adjetives, verbs and prepositions. I opted not to try to speak but to build a solid vocabulary on my long term memory. The fun I have is when I try to put words together to form phrases in my mind. Sometimes I will do it wrong but when I check myself against a book or a lesson at Lingq and notice I am wrong, for some reason it will stick in my long term memory better.

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For english, I cannot make an estimate, since I do it away from the computer and from home. Moreover, I cannot review vocabulary, so that’s why I’m thinking of buying a new mobile (one of those which can surf the internet comfortably, Android or Iphone)

For spanish, I commonly spend on it 2 hours a day. I listen to a podcast for 1 hour, including word review. Then I read and listen to an audiobook in spanish, and that adds one more hour.

It is now more than 4 months since I’ve started spanish. I’m not fluent, I feel that my vocabulary is still too limited, but I’m very optimistic about my level by the end of 2010.
I’ve saved approximately 5000 words, and I know 10000.

Nevertheless, it is incredible the level at which I’ve arrived in only 4 months. Students here in Italy start french (if they want) in middle or high school and after 4 months they are still nowhere.

well, for my japanese I spend either 30 mins or an hour or so per day listening to audio - I’ve spent like 4-5 months now and still can only pick out separate words every now and again from “normal” japanese shows. (by normal japanese shows I mean the rate of speech - otherwise japanese + normal + shows is an oxymoron)

Hi Steve,

I will usually spend 3 hours a day. Although I use 1 hour for each language I’m learning (French, Portuguese and Italian). I do practice conversation and chatting in Portuguese every week day with a Brazilian friend. So those 3 hours I spend actually studying are more dedicated to French and Italian.

As for the 3 month question, I’m sure it does depend on the time we spend studying, but I honestly don’t believe 3 months can you get you too far without constant, almost all day practicing.


I think a person can learn a lot in three months if he or she puts in the time. Whether starting from scratch or just wanting to make a breakthrough, if you focus on one language and put in 5 hours a day, just listening, reading, LingQing and then adding more and more writing and speaking, you can achieve tremendous progress in three months.

Maybe one day, here at LingQ we will have a “3 months intensive language blitz” for the keeners (and those with the available time). Two groups, the “from scratch group” and the “language breakthrough” group.

In my experience intensity pays big dividends in language learning. Going after three languages at once like you do has its advantages, but a concentrated blitz really pushes you to a new level.

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I spend between at least 3-4 hours each day studying languages, namely Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. The time is split between, listening to audio while walking, LingQing [Which is very addictive :slight_smile: ] , reading and practicing Spanish with my Friends. My main emphasis at this point is Spanish.

I think one can learn vast amounts of knowledge in 3 months, not fluency but enough to speak well, but that depends on the person, native language, and language learned.

I have studied German for about 5 months. With some slowly-spoken german shows (streamed on the internet), I can make out about 70% of what is being said. Typically, these are documentaries.

Games shows, cooking shows, etc might as well be Greek for me, at this point. The people speak too fast, and my vocabulary is still not large enough. Even with the vocabulary I know well, it’s difficult to process the language as it is spoken - at this point in my studies.

If I’m in my ‘serious LingQ’ mode, I easily do three hours or more a day, spread over three or four languages. Blitzing might make more sense, but I have started and so I’ll continue with my choices, changing my priority according to boredom threshold.

It would be interesting to see how far I would get in three months in, say, Portuguese from scratch. At the moment, though, I don’t have the extra time.

Now I can only study quite passively, during my commute and when I am doing household chores. That adds up to about 90 minutes a day of listening. THis works for me in French because I am fairly proficient in my listening already, and is more of a maintenance routine than anything else, but I still can pick up new expressions here and there. When I have time, I change to Japanese, my other language, and do more active work along with listening.

THe great thing about LingQ for me personally is that it showed me that language study is not an “all or nothing” proposition.

I am learning German. It changes depending on the day. I passively listen at least one hour a day and usually work for 1 to 2 hours on reading out loud and working on new items to creat linqs. Some days it is like a child just learning to walk-I can’t get enough in that day-other days I need to pull back and process some of the chunks I’ve bitten off. Certainly not a smooth road-lots of hills and valleys.

Last year when I studied Russian for four months I spent 4 hours a day on average, didn’t do any other language. When I started I already had a very basic knowledge and what I wanted was to be able to follow what is been said to a conversation or being able to read texts and have a general idea of what the text is about. I thought I had a very long way to get there, at least 1 year, so in 4 months it was an overachievement for me to have succeed something like that. I don’t think I will ever study Russian so intensively any more because now I have passed the barrier of understanding and from now and then I can be sure that the only possible is I will be getting better. Of course I need a lot of improvement yet but now it’s becoming more and more enjoyable.

I’m starting Spanish now from scratch but I don’t have enough time to do it intensively, although I ll try to do as much as I can. We’ll see where I will get in 3 months.

I’d estimate that I do between 1-3 hours a day depending on how motivated I’m feeling and how much else I’ve got on my plate. I split this between German, Japanese and French. The German takes many forms - podcasts, reading on LingQ, reading before bed, watching dubbed TV shows, reviewing vocabulary and so on - but the Japanese and French are still basic, and take place solely on LingQ. I’d imagine that if I studied French intensively for three months I could get pretty far with it, but wouldn’t have as much of a chance with Japanese, simply because it’s less similar to the languages I already know and both the writing and structure of the language is different.

For Spanish, I do about 4 or more hours per day. This usually consists of about 3 hours listening and about 1 hour or more of reading. Of course this is on an average day. I tend to do more though. I don’t like to just sit down and do all of my learning in one go. I spread it out throughout the day. I’ll do about an hour of learning in the morning. This is about half an hour listening and half an hour reading. When I get home from school I do about 15 min of each listening and reading. Then at night I do about an hour and a half or more of listening and about an hour or more of reading. Since I started doing this about 3 weeks ago my Spanish has improved. So maybe there is a relation between how much time one puts into the language.

In the topic of spending 3 months and be at a good level in the language, I think that it is possible depending on the relation between your native language and the target language, maybe, motivation, and how much time you spend on the language. Then it’s possible.

Hi, I am studying Portuguese for roughly three months now, may be on average an hour a day, probably three or four times a week 1.5 to 2 hours. Because my first goal is to be able to understand spoken Portuguese (on television), I have not practiced writing or speaking at all. Documentaries I can understand relatively well, the daily news about half of it, similarly for series. I can see my understanding increasing whenever I return back to old texts. I have a word count of almost 6000 now, but I would still need to go up to 10000 I guess to see another real step forward. Of course I could acquire the word count relatively easy because I do speak French already. I could tell a lot about language learning, but for me it takes years to obtain a level such that you can understand everything on television and in discussions with people. (After six years in England I was relatively comfortable, but especially in the first two years, I encountered a lot of knew words. When I arrived in France, I could make myself understandable in a one to one discussion, but it took a while before I could follow everything my colleagues were talking about at lunch times (also because you often miss the cultural background). I have spent nine months in Budapest a very long time ago, and after nine months I could just about talk with my friends, but television I still had lots of difficulty. I have forgotten everything now (except a few words which would spring to mind sometimes), so it would really take a lot of effort again to get that back if I wanted. A funny experience was that when I was learning French in the UK as a preparation for my stay in France, the Hungarian words were coming back into my mind. If you do not practice a language, it is very difficult to speak it again. For example, I do speak German as well, I did my A levels in German, and can understand the television, but when I sometimes meet a German person, talking is very difficult, rusty and all words spring into mind except the German ones, which makes me stutter. Well, keep learning and enjoying languages!

silviad I so know what you mean - remembering a language (in my case greek) is akin to remembering an old song


In regards to what can be achieved in 2-3 months:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter_Day Saints sends missionaries out all over the world. They are often sent to a missionary training center (MTC) for two months of intensive language training before being sent to their country of origin. They study about 8 hours a day, 6 days per week, in addition to being in a language immersion program, where speaking “only the target language” is encouraged. Many of those missionaries that learn languages such as Italian, Spanish, and French, are quite fluent after 2 additional months in the field. Language such as Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese are much more difficult, with fluency taking between 6 months to a year in the field. Once in the field, the missionaries are only able to study language for about 1 hour a day, but they are usually in an immersive environment anyway…which requires the use of the target language.

The Monterey Language Institute (MLI), in California, follows a similar program that was adapted from the MTC. Even though they are used by the U.S. Department of Defense for language training, civilians can take intensive language immersion courses there over the Summer. The MTC is not open to the General Public.

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I am quite convinced that more can be achieved with a learning program based on listening, reading and vocabulary acquisition than one based on “speaking in the target language”. The time spent with a teacher should be minimal, at most one hour a day.

I agree with Steve. Also, I wouldn’t be one to sit in a classroom for hours on end everyday and being forced to speak that language. Also, I don’t mind sitting in a language classroom, but for 8 hours! There is no way I would be able to learn a language. Actually, all of my motivation would be gone right away and I would end up going home. For me, the most I can bear to sit in a language classroom is for an hour or more depending on how involved I am and if the teacher is stimulating or not. I would rather spend my own time reading, listening, and building up my vocabulary.

How do we get the missionaries using LingQ? :slight_smile: Especially once they are in the field and don’t have that much time available.