Is reading and listening enough?

Is it possible to just go through lesson after lesson accumulating new words without really ever going over flash cards or checking the definition of a word in your language? I spent a significant amount of time just doing flash cards after my lessons and I don’t think I can keep this up. So yeh can I just listen/ read in the target language without checking definitions and eventually they’ll stick and I’ll know how to use them?

Maybe it’s possible. I did this with Chinese for a week. But after that week I understood that I don’t remember anything. Though my comprehension of texts and audio got better. I think you should just have a rest of learning. Go to the internet and read some articles in a language you learn (at least try to read, I use popup dictionary to help myself) or listen to some music in that language.
Don’t use SRS if you don’t like. Meeting words you have learned in your future texts is kind of SRS and also it’s more natural. I used Anki when I started learning Chinese but then I gave up and started to make flashcards just for one day. Next day I have another flashcards and don’t want to see those I did yesterday.
Maybe you can try other exercises to learn words. You know that you can export lingqs from here. So use other systems to learn words. I find it quite effective to learn such languages (languages which have letters, not like Chinese) typing words.
Happy learning =)

It depends on your memory.
But you can try different methods of learning.
And of course, if you don’t want to work with flashcards, you have to listen and to read the same podcast several times for keeping some new words in your memory.

I agree. Flashcards make learning faster, though it’s possible to learn without them.

There are two things here - checking the translation and doing flashcards. LingQ makes it incredibly easy to check the translation of something so I wouldn’t personally skip this. As your level progresses you get better at understanding from context, but there will always be words that you need to look up. Also this will help you notice “false friends” and stop you learning the meaning incorrectly. Saying that, some words are more important than others. If you’re short on time, sure, don’t look up every word.

Flashcards probably depends on your level and reading speed. The more you can read, the less you’ll need SRS, as you’ll be revising and learning words naturally. You’re reading 7897 words a week, which is good. I’m only on about 500 so I probably need SRS more than you to “top up” my exposure to new words. But a little bit of SRS will always help. My recent trick is to not worry about “studying” flashcards, but just to flick through them regularly. You can do that in a couple of minutes and at least you will have increased your exposure. My main aim would be to increase words per week. That way you can leave flashcards behind entirely.

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When you’re a beginner, I would say just keep listening/reading to the same easy dialogues/readings. I would make a playlist of all the lessons I’ve studied, and review it every day. And add a new lesson or two or three. Once your playlist gets too long, you start cutting lessons from it. I don’t think you need to do too much more than this.

An SRS is good for less frequent but important vocabulary, ie words you want to understand, but won’t see frequently. It’s also good for making cards based around grammar points that you find problematic. Or particular phrases and turns of speech that you like and want to remember.

If you make a lot of LingQs, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed with flashcards. You can set your LingQs of the day to 25, and just do those. That should be plenty of flashcarding, I think.

The thing about the most frequent 2 or 3 thousand words of a language is that you are basically constantly exposed to them. I don’t think it’s necessary to flashcard them.

But I know some people like to find huge decks of vocabulary and then power study them in an SRS as a way of kickstarting themselves in a language. I wouldn’t have the patience/interest to do that, but it’s an optional way of using flashcards.

When you get more advanced, it won’t be necessary to review old lessons. You’ll have more time, and can maybe do more deliberate flashcarding. But until you’re a solid intermediate, I would just focus on getting at least an hour of quality comprehensible input a day.

Just my two cents though :slight_smile:


Sometimes I tried to review the flash cards but I cannot remember the meanings. So, I tried to study a language without looking through the flash cards. My Italian was studied such a way in about 18 months from scratch with pauses for other languages. I have been to Italy 3 times using only Italian there. So, flash cards method seem to be not my way of learning.

It is personal preference. I only review the “top 25 flashcards” and I randomly relisten/reread the lessons I have gone through in the past. Otherwise I just head on to other content (mixxed low level and higher level - depending on my mood)

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Flash cards aren’t necessary, imo. Looking up words is ok, particularly as a beginner. but I don’t regularly look up new words, after a certain level. If I don’t know a word, I prefer to guess it. When I’ve seen it a few times, I’ll often just know what means. After a certain level, the act of not looking up a word, and forcing yourself to move on, is quite powerful, imo. Waving your mouse over a word is a little limiting. It is too easy to remove the “struggle” of what a word or sentence means, without gaining anything in your long term memory. Just having that nagging “what did that word really mean” ticking over in your subconscious, is a big benefit, imo.


When should you look up the definition? Most of the time when I’'m reading I never think to stop and check a definition, and based on what I’ve heard, listening is far more important than reading. So I’m switching my focus to listening for the time being, and I’m going to do the daily lingqs every day on top of a flash card or multiple choice session after listening/reading to the lesson.

I don’t think listening is far more important than reading. Listening is more difficult and takes a lot more time to get good at it, but that is different to saying it is more important. Reading is very important for acquiring vocabulary and a strong understanding of the language.

When should you look up the definition? I think everyone uses a slightly different method. Every lesson I do I first flick through all blue words, changing them into yellow LingQs or known words. At that point I’m checking the definition of any new words I don’t know. Then when I am reading the lesson properly I may look across at the “hint” definitions of LingQs that are important.

I wouldn’t worry too much about your exact method. If you feel you’re making progress, you are almost certainly doing the right thing.


I couldn’t keep motivated with flashcards so just stopped. My gut feeling is that being exposed to a word in context, but in say three different contexts, is worth 15 flashcard exposures. Plus if you get your exposure through just reading and encountering certain words over and over, I figure you’re also building your vocabulary in a more naturalistic way, based more on how often a word appears in every day use (generally speaking). Sometimes I get the nagging feeling that maybe I just don’t do flashcards anymore because I’m lazy, but I’d always rather read a new text than just click through words mindlessly. I’m hoping that way I’m absorbing the grammar unconsciously too.

I guess the question is, what is that ‘certain level’ after which you can just ‘know’ a word by osmosis? Is it just a certain stage of advancement for you? Or more a reflection of the percentage of known/unknown words within a text (which will obviously be high/low the more advanced you are)? Curious to know your thoughts… as I feel like I’m now starting to pick up meanings in this way too (after about a year of pretty intense study).

I think spcole is right that you shouldn’t worry so much about the exact method. Of course, some methods are better than others, but the most important thing by far is the amount of time spent on learning and not the details of the method. If you are enthusiastic about the method and like doing it, then that is probably the best one for you.

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In a matter of fact, it´s good to change method. The brain is lazy, in a smart way, and you have to shake it some, make it alert and never really give it a chance to go into auto-pilot -mode, to much.

Oh, it’s clever!