If you want to be a language learner, forget about being a control freak

I have been waiting to get new languages on LingQ but Mark is holding off until we resolve some other more important issues. I want to work on Czech.

So I did some Czech in the Swedish slot. The big problem is that the dictionary resets to Swedish all the time and I have to change it back to Czech.

One thing that strikes me is that you can start with any level of difficulty of content. I do not understand people who say that our beginner content at LingQ is difficult to understand.

The fact is that I can pick my way through very difficult content, one word a time. I have some understanding of what is being said. I just do not understand it all. I sense what it is saying, and I am discovering the language and exploring. Oh, and I certainly cannot speak.


You cannot expect perfection. I am in no hurry to speak. I would still rather pick my way through interesting news articles than read about Mary had a little lamb. I know that with enough exposure, the rest will come. At some point I will consult a small grammar book, mostly out of curiosity to see if I pick anything up.

I believe that with LingQ you can literally start anywhere in the language, as long as you are not expecting to have everything crystal clear, nor to remember anything in particular.

You need to be a little loosey-goosey to be a language learner I believe.

I’m also awaiting a new language, Dutch. Can’t wait until it and other languages, Czech or otherwise, come to this fantastic site.

I’ve been watching your videos lately Steve and have found them interesting. I don’t particularly like trying to assimilate a language through course books. I still like going through them slowly, but I mostly use the texts and audio with quick reference to the grammar and vocabulary.

For me, as a sufferer of OCD and a perfectionist, this approach to language learning is rather difficult. I’d prefer to see progress now! But it’s not realistic and I’ve got to fight such tendencies.

I’ve got an intense passion for learn Yiddish (no, this site will never have it hehe) and I’ve downloaded some texts from the National Yiddish Book Collection’s archive at archive.org. In that collection I found some simple texts for learners which progress slowly. With my knowledge of English, Dutch and very limited German knowledge, I have been able to work out some of them. When I get to the harder texts, I find that I get lost, even when I look words up.

I find that I’m mostly watching watch tv shows and movies in Dutch. When I try to listen to an audiobook, I get rather confused. Is this still effective at my level? I’ve had problems with reading all but the most simple texts (I mean very simple). Primarily because my vocabulary is not broad enough. You know, all those little words…

What do you recommend for this period? Just get the dictionary out and keep going?

Of course we will have Yiddish,and any other language, as long as there are people who can provide content, some online dictionary resources and people who want to learn it. I hope we are not far away but I have stopped promising.

For now, if you do not have LingQ you have to stay with easy materials, or be content to watch TV and not understand. I hope we can solve your problem soon.

I did some Estonian from a Wikipedia article and some Hebrew from a news site on the Japanese slot the other day and it worked like a charm.

For Hebrew there’s lots of great free resources out there (just search ‘Hebrew language’ or ‘learn Hebrew’ on Google and you’ll find scores), but unfortunately for Estonian there’s a serious dearth of audio material available:/

In reference to what you said about perfection, I think a lot of people have a lot of difficulty giving up the quest for it.

I was terrible when I first started getting into languages - I was bent on improving my German, but I was constantly looking up every other word in the dictionary. Of course I got very tired of this very quickly and soon became discouraged - fortunately I had a good teacher who kept me motivated, and now I know how to motivate myself and that I shouldn’t worry about the details in the early stages.

I think a lot of people are simply afraid of uncertainty, of ‘letting go’. Why that is, I don’t know.

There are 10,542 Yiddish books on archive.org which have no copyright, if that helps… I’m working on several Yiddish projects and hope to provide a dictionary at some point. So it’s a future project that might be worth looking at.

Luckily I’m understanding quite a bit while watching kids shows and Disney movies. I figure that more immersion equals more progress.

Steve, you’ve done such great work here. Don’t think you are disappointing me, at least, by not having all the languages I want yet. I want to learn all the ones here but the priorities that I have and the priorities of the site simply don’t coincide. I’m doing French next, so, no worries!

What brought on the Czech Steve? I’ve heard talk about wanting to start other languages, haven’t heard anything about Czech. I want to get my Polish to a bit higher level and then I’m going to start on Czech. I like Czechs they’re like the Polish but with less Catholicism and more decadence. My kind of people…

Of course we will have Yiddish,and any other language, as long as there are people who can provide content, some online dictionary resources and people who want to learn it

Eh… I learn a language without any online dictionary available… If you google “learning Bashkir” or “изучение башкирского” you will find almost nothing. But still there is people who are learning this language (I know at least 3 people besides me who try, or tried to learn Bashkir), but all of them live in my region of course.

This is what I’ve just started realizing-- that language learning is messy. I’m a bit afraid of messes too, so language learning is also unnerving. When I listen to Russian without trying to translate every verbatim, in the back of my skull a little part of me freaks out because it is losing touch with things familiar and substantial. It is like I am swimming deep in inky black water, and I’m feeling around for shapes without using my eyes.

I like that feeling, but it takes getting used to.

I simply hate it that I miss all the good discussions just because I have to sleep occasionally!
From life-long experience of being a cowardly learner (only recently changed to LingQ learner) I agree with David that it’s most often our fear that is holding us back - and what else is fear than being afraid of loss of control? So, once again, Steve is right: forget about being a control freak, be daring!

I make mistakes often. Even in my native tongue. So I’ve got no fear of that.

Sometimes I want to learn quicker and I feel like I need to study hard. It’s not that it doesn’t work at all. But I think it’s mostly due to my ability to learn vocabulary quick which leads to the biggest gains. Realizing grammatical structures in context is a really good feeling.

I think that getting over the need to learn a language in record time, for most of us, is a great block towards de-stressing and accepting the chaos of it all. Take the plunge! Watch a season or the entire collection of a tv show in the language you are learning. Something funny. Something silly. Cartoons or muppets! Have a laugh and enjoy the process.

Language learning is like a rollercoaster. Some things take ages to grasp, and some stick immediately. When I look at a text I worked with one year ago (or two!), it seems impossible that I didn’t “get it” back then. So, be proud of what you DO know instead of feeling bad because there is still more to learn.

Considering that I now read “Musik im Wandel der Gesellschaft” (non-fiction) and have just started my first crime novel in Spanish (“Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres”), without too much difficulty, I must have learned something over the years.