How to split up your study time

Hi all,

I am learning Italian in order to be able to speak to and understand native Italian speakers at a B2 level.

How would you split up your percentage of study time to achieve this aim?

At present I think I spend 70% reading, 20% listening, 5% speaking and 5% brushing up on grammar. I think it might be a bit unbalanced!


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I guess, it’s very individual. I can’t go on without a proper grammar foundation. So I always start with some course book (which usually includes some reading and listening material, but it’s hard to split). Only after getting some base, I’ll go for other sources.
For German, where I’m currently at B1-B2, I spend about 30% on grammar and exercises, 10% on writing, 15% on vocabulary and phrase learning, and the rest split between reading and listening which primarily depends on the interesting material I can find and its complexity (if it’s too hard to understand on the fly, I’ll read). With LingQ, I guess, I get more emphasis on listening.
For Japanese (approximately A1+) it’s 60% grammar, 5% writing, and the rest is the same.
Speaking in both cases is spontaneous and hard to estimate.

Thanks for your reply. I see in the early stages of language learning you have put more time into grammar to get a good foundation. However, at the later stages you have focused more on reading and listening with more weight on listening.

I am trying to bring in more listening and, particularly speaking. I have been chatting to my I Phone using Chat GPT for the last few days and have found this surprisingly helpful! I still have two sessions a week with real native speakers too.

Your study and how you divide it changes depending on the language in question, where you are up to, etc. I’d say, generally to focus on your weaknesses.

If your goal is to be able to understand and speak to native Italian speakers, you should primarily focus on vocabulary used in spoken language and listening comprehension (mainly pronunciation/accent and speed). At least, I found those to be the main issues I had when I was aiming for such a goal in Italian.

If your goal is conversing with and listening to native speakers, you have to make sure you are studying the right material. You should be focusing on YouTube, podcasts, and/or Netflix. This can’t be stressed enough. If you are reading Harry Potter and listening to audiobooks, it will only take you so far.

The question you may have wanted to ask was How would I split my active study time to achieve this goal? My passive study is pretty much set in stone, as I want to listen as much as possible, but the exact amount is usually determined by my lifestyle on that exact day. With regard to my active study, I’d say 90% of it was reading while listening (or pre-reading to do it). After I’d pre-read once (only necessarily when there are lots of words you don’t know), then 2x re-read while listening, I added the audio to my playlist, where I would passively listen to it when on walks, commuting, cleaning the house, etc. I expose myself to new vocabulary in active study, then drill the word into my memory with passive listening while practising my listening comprehension (as I remember the content of the audio from studying it already 3x in active study).

In my active study, I did very little grammar study for Italian. Only a little here and there to mix it up or when curious. I just found that Italian grammar wasn’t much of an obstacle to understanding for me at the beginner to lower intermediate stages. As for speaking, you can do as much as you want, but I think it’s better to hold it off, if you aren’t in a rush. You just get more bang for your buck from the above-mentioned routine, because you can’t say anything, if you have a low vocabulary.

I notice your stats: 1.09M words read (known words 2,184; lingQs 21,680; lingQs learnt 1,004; hours listened 275)

Compare these to my Italian stats at the time: 1.1M words read (known words 10,332; lingQs 28,433; lingQs learnt 6,489; hours listened 302; hours of speaking 13)

How are you studying and what material are you studying? Are you hyper conversative in marking a word as Known? I consider myself to be reasonably conservative in marking a word as Known.

Also, I would add that it also depends on your lifestyle. I mean, if you work an hour away from where you live and you dedicate the journey to languages, it might be two hours a day of reading if you go by train or two hours of listening if you drive. This, of course, applies to all activities in your life.

@nfera This is interesting (since I’m also learning Italian). My method is to move the word from stage 1 to stage 2 (3, 4) and then to “known” each time I understand it without any deep thinking.
My stats are much closer to yours than to Davide’s.

1.1 M words read (16.400 known, 23500 Lingqs, 3000 learnt Lings, I don’t use Lingq to listen but I listen to podcasts every day a lot (about 1/4 in Italian), so I would guess at least an hour a day? For the last 2 years = 700+ hours. although difficult to guess.)

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Thanks both,

It’s good to get confirmation of what I’m already doing and also tips for new approaches.

I do focus on vocabulary used in spoken language - namely listening to youtube street interviews and talks on various cultural topics by Italian teachers. I did veer into reading literature but may double down on more conversational material.

I spend a lot of time reading the transcription and LingQing and follow up by listening but could spend more time on the latter area. I like the idea of reading whilst listening and this can be done easily in sentence mode. However, I find it tiring listening line by line in sentence mode if the videos are more than 10 minutes long so I do like shorter vids for this purpose. Nfera - I shall look at your study routine in more detail and see if I can replicate it once or twice to see how it feels.

You’re right. I’m ultra conservative when it comes to marking words as known! I like the security of having that yellow on the screen because I think the dictionary definition will disappear if I mark it as known.

It’s interesting that you find more bang for your buck from input rather than speaking. I have just started using Chat GPT to practice speaking 30 minutes a day. I find words and phrases which are fairly unfamiliar in the transcript and then practice these with a chat bot.

Don’t worry, it won’t, :slight_smile:

Good to know. I’ll start marking more words as unknown then!

I’m just starting to use ChatGPT and find it quite useful for questions of grammar and idioms. I haven’t tried conversing with Chat though.

What prompts do you use? What does the process look like?

Thanks in advance.

Reading graded readers are great as a beginner, as the vocabulary is specifically designed for you to gradually increase your vocabulary. After you finished reading Italian 102: I Promessi Sposi, you can re-read while listening through it again (just play the audio in another media player, while re-reading it in LingQ, then add it to your stats later), then listen it to a few more times again in your passive listening.

Do your reading while listening in the normal Reader Mode! It’s impossible in Sentence Mode due to the massive number of clicks required. Personally, I think reading while listening is probably the most powerful method you can do, as it forces you to read faster and it’s like free listening time. Then if you couple it with re-listening during passive listening time, it’s like a one-two punch.

The definition doesn’t disappear when you mark a word as Known. When you click on a lingQ, which you have marked as Known, it’ll still show the same definition. The only change is that it’s no longer highlighted yellow or underlined.

Hi, I am not too familiar with prompts. I just downloaded Chat GTP from the Apple Store. I click on the headphone icon and then I get a screen with a white circle. I press my finger on the circle to talk and then release when finished. The AI bot replies with 2 or 3 sentences around the topic I introduced and then asks me a question. I can either answer this question or change the topic.

In settings I have selected my speech voice as ‘Sky’ and my main language as ‘Italian’.

There is a drop-down for custom interactions where you can type in prompts. I don’t know if this is working but I have typed in “Speak to me in Italian at an A2 to B1 level. Use conversational language and reply with 2-3 sentences. Speak slightly slower than normal. If I make mistake correct me.”

Thanks for the tip. I will do more combined reading and listening in the regular reader.

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Thanks. I interact with Chat via a web browser page I could speak/listen to it, but for now I’m just typing and reading.

It’s super for grammar and idiom questions.

I still feel a bit shy… Chat assures me it is just a computer program with no consciousness, emotions or opinions.

But that’s what it would want me to believe! :slight_smile:

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In chatgpt App in setting you can find “custom instructions” . I use that for “conversation practise”. Now I work on my Italian and currently I use follow promts although it doesn’t correct me at all. :man_shrugging::

Act like an Italian tutor that initiates discussions on current events, pop culture, trending topics, books or science etc, encouraging me to express my thoughts and opinions in Italian. Invent even your topics.

Provide constructive feedback on my answers. Correct my grammar and the way I express in order to sound more naturally, native-like.

Make the conversation flow, your input should be short in order to engage me in dynamic and relevant Italian conversations.
Speak only Italian, ask questions, provide feedback, correct my Italian in a way a native speaker would express himself.

Be informal. Often mention your personal thoughts on the subject we discuss to make it feel more real; like a real conversation with a real person. Sometimes don’t agree with me in order to practice discussing different opinions and views.

This is very important: your main purpose is to improve my language skills, if I say something grammaticaly wrong correct my answers and rewrite them in the way they are correct and in the way native speakers would say them. Correct my Italian. Correct my grammar. Correct my articles, tenses and pronuns.

Your name is Giuseppina. Think of your hobbies and personality and demonstrate both in the conversation.


Wow. Those are great ideas. Thanks.

I’ve noticed that there is now a new job title in the world:

AI Prompt Engineer

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Hi JT.

I like AI chat for the same reason. I’m quite reserved and not completely at ease doing video calls with language exchange partners. Chat GTP lets me chat as much as I like in a completely relaxed manner whilst not feeling self-conscious about making mistakes.

I have found Chat GPT great for grammar questions too!

Hi Sean,

That’s fantastic! I like how you have guided Chat GTP to talk to you in an informal, everyday way. I am going to use some of your script.

Yes - Chat GPT comes up short when it comes to correcting me too! That’s why I wasn’t sure whether it was taking any notice of my own prompts. However, it does a good job as a conversation partner.