I cannot understand what I hear. I cannot remember my LingQs

I received the following message on my wall.

Hi, Steve! I have question for you. I tried watching your English video about lazy learner. But I didn’t understated you however I understand when I read English text. May be you can give me advice, how I can improve my English in Russian or I can anywhere read it English article? I didn’t remember new linqs well on your site too, may be because I little bit write here. what I must write new words or all lesson?

My answer.

To improve your listening ability you need to listen, a lot. At first listen often to the same content. Make sure you read, save LingQs and review your LingQs. You will not remember your saved LingQs, not after looking at them in a list, and not after reviewing them in Flash Cards. You will forget them like more other people including me.

But after a lot of reading and listening, and seeing them highlighted in yellow in different contexts. (and the yellow highlight is almost like a small visual cue), the words will start to stick.

So just keep listening, reading and LingQing and do not be impatient.

like most other people…sorry

Great advice of course like always. He might want to start with easier or maybe just shorter content too, maybe look into some of the 3 minute podcasts or if you’re interested in what Steve has to say his book is available in short chunks too!

I have been thinking about these lingQs…in addition to reviewing them in the stories by reading and listening, then using the flashcards, what would really cement them(for me, at least) is if I can use them myself. That would be what the writing and talking with a tutor would do. I am being very cheap(I am sorry for that, Steve). I think I will try to include the lingQs in a letter that I will write to someone.
I think the only way you really learn is if you can make the words YOURS. So you have to use them your way.In something fun that you’ll enjoy!
I learned French in high school this way. I wanted to have “code” that my best friend and I could use so we could not be overheard and understood. So we used French, and we got very good at it! We learned new words and really used them. I cannot forget that experience.

For me, it takes time to start to use the new words. Actually most of them become old before I can use them. At first I start to notice them in more and more texts and audios. And I usually review the Flash Cards. Sometimes I try to use them while writing or speaking. But I only consider them known when I use them without thinking.

I also think it’s difficult to create a text based on specific words presented in a list. I find it more easy when I take some words and create a sentence with each one. And then I write something using the ideas expressed in each sentence.

If you can’t remmember the words that you saw in a text that’s OK. Forgetting is part of the process of remembering. But normally if you follow what Steve said everytime you find the word It’ll not be like the first time you saw it. Even if you can’t retrieve the meaning or the usage of it, you’ll realize that you are understanding it better.

Related to the lack of understanding while listenning. I had the same problem last year. I knew lots of words but I couldn’t recognize them in a normal speech.

To solve this problem, I started to listen to easy content, so easy that I could understand almost everything I was hearing. Even when appeared words that I didn’t know, it wasn’t a problem because I could guess the meaning using the context. From time to time I choose another kind of audio more difficult.

I can say to you, it’s amazing. My pronunciation improved. My active and passive vocabulary grew a lot.

Another day I took at a look at one of the podcasts that sounded very difficult at that time and guess what, I could understand almost everything.

The episodes of EnglishLingQ Podcast that were somewhat difficult three months ago, now are very easy for me!

I wish you good lucky with you study. And I’d like to thank Steve for the great site.

Thanks Pedro. Yes listening is important, lots of listening. We read, save LingQs and review them, in order to make our listening more enjoyable and to make us more attentive to what we read and hear. The language improvement is a holistic process.

It is not true, at least for most people, that you need to use a word in order to learn it. We know far more words than we can use.
I have learned close to 50,000 Russian words according to my LingQ statistics. I hardly every speak, and when I do I use few words. Yet today I can read Tolstoi with little difficulty. I did not use all the words that I now understand.

There is nothing wrong with having a large passive vocabulary. In most situations it is more important to understand a great deal, and as long as we have enough words to express ourselves, we are doing fine. We gradually find ourselves using some of our passive words and thus they are slowly added to our active word list, for a while, until we forget them.