I have been using LINGQ now for about 9 months. And although I have made huge improvements. I feel like it is going so slow. I know listening to Italian, is the best way for your brain to get used to the language. I also speak to 3 friends who live in Agrigento, Siracusa and Caserta (Napoli). Any other ways you guys have learned Italian or any other language for that matter? I know it take about 600 hours to achieve a C1 level. Currently I am about 145 hours of listening and almost 3000 words of writing. Qualsiasi consiglio amici?. Grazie in anticipo. Lo apprezzo.

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I believe I have enough vocabulary to start thinking in Italian (not naturally, I have to force myself, and it takes me way longer to form sentences than it’d be useful to actually have a conversation), but what I have noticed is that when I do force myself to think, those same words that I composed into a sentence are much easier to quickly retrieve the next time around. I also take the same sentence and kind of change up the words a bit.

You’re doing the right stuff so far, getting comprehensible input in, plus having conversations in the target language with friends.

Where do you feel the issues are in your Italian so far? Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing, etc.?

(Keep in mind, there are many more qualified people on here that can help, I’m just offering what helped for me so far in my early learning of the language)


Just like you stated. Thinking in Italian. I guess that comes from time and repetition. My problem is some days the words just flood into my head, then out of my mouth. Other times, I forget the most basic, literally "Day 1 " Italian words. It’s so frustrating sometimes. And lastly knowing what verb tenses to use. Per esempio, Passato prossimo, Trapassato, or Imperfetto. UGGGGHHH!! lol

Congratulations on your success so far and your ability to stick with it. The most I’ve been able to do is three months during a 90 day challenge but most of the time it’s just a month or two with a few days in between. But mostly it’s a few months on a few months off.

A couple of points that I’ve noticed based on what you said and looking at your stats. First, I’m not sure what you mean by C1, but I can assure you it takes a lot more than 600 hours. You’re looking at between 900 and 1000 hours that’s 24 weeks at 40 hours per week to get to professional proficiency which is like a solid B2/touching c1 according to the foreign service Institute/Defense language Institute hours of learning. I would think that true C one would be doubling that. I’m at about 1600 hours for Spanish and I wouldn’t call myself a solid C1 but maybe I need to double check on what that ability level means.

you have an insane amount of speaking hours! Almost 1200!… I bet you are very comfortable. within a very limited range. I say limited because you don’t seem to have done much reading and linking which is at the heart of the learning process and what you need in order to build up your vocabulary so that you know what the words mean when you hear them and can use them later on. I’m not sure where you are on listening comfort, but I noticed that I found it much easier to follow native speeds in conversation add after about three or 400 hours.


So, I looked up that “C1” level. The state department says it takes about 600 hours to achieve a proficient level within the Romance languages. Yes I do speak alot, but also make a shit ton of mistakes! Especially when it comes to the preposition. Thank you for your input and I’m going to take your advice and read and listen more. I try to at least listen one hour a day, after that I lose interest. I also do this at least 5x per week. So even if I keep this pace up that’s about 260 hours per year! That does not sound like a lot. I also try to write at least 50-100+ words a day on the writing exchange. On a different note, I absolutely laugh when these “Language Gurus” say you can achieve fluency in 3 months. You may be able to ask/answer extremely basic questions at after 3 months , but even that is sketchy at best. Your number sound more accurate and realistic. No wonder very few people achieve a relative mastery of a foreign language. Because it is difficult and just like anything in life that is impressive requires dedication and consistency. Any other tips my friend? Lastly I remember Steve Kaufmann saying he has been trying to learn Russian for over 9 years! That is crazy.

yeah I get what you mean how some days you feel the words come easier than other days, I’m assuming that it will come more consistently with time. For stuff like verb tenses, there’s a good youtube channel I’ve watched in the past that goes over a lot of grammar in Italian called Italy Made Easy, Manu is the guy’s name. He does have a video specifically on the different verb tenses as well who can do a much better job explaining them than I could. He speaks in English, but I get his reasoning though, if he speaks about something complex like grammar, he says it is a lot easier to understand the explanations in your native language otherwise you’d just get lost (I agree for myself personally, but I know some people want to just hear Italian for more exposure).

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I suggest you stop speaking for a while (minimum 3 months, better 6 months) and focus on getting 1.000.000 words read (roughly 3.500-4.000 pages) and listening for another 150 hours. After that you can test your speaking ability for a month and see if you’ve improved. And then get back to reading and listening.

For now speaking is a waste of time for you. The reason is simple: when you speak with natives, they will use on average 6.000 words, meaning that as a foreigner you cannot learn more than 50% of that amount, because your brain cannot internalize all the words that it hears. To surpass this threshold you need to read, watch or listen to a lot of content. You need short stories, novels or self help books, movies or youtube channels that could expose you to 10.000 or 15.000 new words and slowly your vocabulary will increase.

Stop writing, it’s too early. It’s an obstacle, not an aid in your studies. Get to 20.000-25.000 known LingQs, so that your brain is more adapted to think in Italian, then come back to it.

Stop learning grammar and thinking about the right tenses. At your stage you should try to notice grammar patterns and check the grammar book from time to time, if you find some interesting structures or they pop up frequently in your texts. Not more than that.


Gotcha. I had a feeling it might be that. You might want to check my post in this thread about the FSI “Classroom Hours” How Do The Fsi "Classroom Hours" Translate To Self-Learne...

24 weeks of 25 “classroom” hours (24x25=600) will get you to “professional working proficiency”, or Level 3 on the ILR (Interagency Language Roundtable) scale. That’s more or less in the twilight of B2/C1 of what most people would call “fluency.” However, these are CLASSROOM hours. These numbers do not include the 3 hours of self-study FSI students do outside of class. Overall they spend 40 hours per week on their language learning. By the time their 24 weeks is up for a Cat 1 language, they have put in 960 hours with the language. I think you are right in that this is the biggest reason why people don’t do it. You have to be in it for the long haul and most people fall off. Even I who love this stuff took forever to get around to putting in that time. I’ve only just “stopped” my Spanish this month and am working on Latin now. Another reason people fall off is because they don’t know it takes this long and they feel like they are never going to get there. That’s what makes the LingQ stats so important. You an see the progress and know you are getting there.

For reference I think I’m a little above the FSI level at 1600 hours of Spanish, but have the “potential” for much, much more. If I had say, put in the FSI amount of 1,000 hours and then spent 600 hours speaking (half of your amount), I think I would be truly amazing and probably be in strong C1 terroritory, even touching C2. I consider myself “fluent” how, but I have invested less than 100 hours speaking. When I got outside of my comfort zone and have free flowing conversations with people about things other than my usual topics, I slow my speaking, think more in English again, and make more mistakes, but then I speed up, use more vocabulary, and make fewer mistakes as I got into “activation” mode.

Incidentally, I wouldn’t say Master Steve has been “trying to learn Russian for over 9 years.” This was either misunderstood or he misspoke. He started in 2006 and put 4.5-5 years in and is well over the 1,760 (40 hours x 44 weeks) required by FSI. He can speak well, even with mistakes, understand Russian TV and movies, and most of the literature. What he does “need” to do is spend some time activating his speaking with a month or two over in Russian and he’d be awesome.

Steve spends most of this time listening because it’s something he can do while doing other things. When he has dedicated time, he reads. That’s what I would do if I were you. Lots of reading (a long with listening and following along). For me personally, I can listen while taking a walk to audio I know well from reading a lot (or now, because I’m just better). Other than that., I can’t listen and do something else. It’s just too distracting. My langauge learning time is pretty much dedicated just to that so I tend to read a lot more than listen.


Trying to figure out how a good/efficient way to get so much information and knowledge into our brains in a short (shortest?) amount of time is going to be different for everyone. With that said, I still think there are basic guidelines and processes that benefit us all, but of course there will still be differences as well.

  1. whichever path you take, make sure that you are enjoying the process. Learning a language to a high level is going to be a grind and if you run out of energy at anytime during the journey then you obviously won’t make it to your goal (taking multi-month breaks is totally fine). This is true from high energy routines to low energy routines. Find ways to stay hungry.

  2. know/understand the trade-offs between consuming simple material, medium difficulty material, and difficult material. It seems that most people end up reading/listening to stuff over their heads and then wonder why they don’t make progress. I don’t know if you fall into this camp, but you can check by reading 2000-word lessons and see at which level you can finish these in 20-30 mins. Keep reducing the complexity until you can read at this speed. Then do it for a while and see how you progress. Then increase the difficulty and see if your learning speeds up or slows down. You can also do this with audio as well. This idea of “known words” in Lingq is a double-edged sword and leads people down the wrong path. Focusing on simpler material (focus on total words read) allows you to: get better quality information about words that you don’t know because you know the other words in the sentence/paragraph well, read much faster (encounter more words per minute and get many more repetitions of words that you already “know”), read with less energy output, read for longer, enjoy reading more. I like to think of this process as learning to surf. If you’re reading/listening way above your level then you’re the surfer that’s falling off the board and spending more time in the water than on the board. Don’t be this guy. Be the guy that gets a feel for the board and the waves and can actually make progress. Then you can start looking for bigger waves.

  3. take the advice of RychkovSS and LILingquist seriously. They’ve done well for a reason.

  4. know what your goals are and how to get there. If it’s conversation, then you should focus on reading simple texts at near native speed and the same with audio (try playing the mini stories on repeat for a couple hours or more per day). Don’t waste your time reading adult-level fiction books slowly. You won’t need this vocabulary anyway. Your goal should be to do the easy things very well. Basic vocabulary and basic grammar are what really matter for conversation. This will provide the necessary foundation. Then add vocabulary as you need it.

  5. throw away any expectation of getting to a conversational level in months rather than years. if you happen to reach it quicker than you expected then you will be happy. If you try to do things too quickly then you’ll end up like the beginner surfer from #2 and actually delay your progress. My goals are probably different than yours, but just to give you an idea, it took me probably 1200-1500 hours in Russian to get to 54k known words, probably 800-1000 hours in Spanish to get to 24k known words, and then 300-500 hours in French to get to 15k known words. My Russian and Spanish vocabularies are well above what you’d need for a conversational level, but these aren’t even crazy numbers if you’re taking the language seriously. Doubling these numbers would be a very healthy position. Knowing what I know now about language learning, I probably could have reduced my time spent by 20-30%, but this is all part of the fun. For Italian, assuming that you’d need 20k known words on Lingq to consider yourself to be in a comfortable spot for conversation (probably conservative, 15k might be more accurate), learning 100 words per day would still take 200 days of reading of 1.5-2 hours per day. If you take a couple days off per week and learn a little less than 100 words per day, then that’s already putting you at a year. This doesn’t even include listening and speaking practice.

  6. look back on your progress and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. this will be give yourself motivation for #1.

Good luck!


ggtwo, I’m by no means an expert on how the brain works, but from what I can see in my own studies is that the whole point of this language learning thing is to get as much information into our subconscious brain as possible. Then witness as it starts to seep out into our speaking. You will start to get an idea of how much information is there by noticing how well you absorb/understand inputs (reading and listening). If you can listen and understand native-level speaking very well then that means your subconscious understanding is very advanced. What you can actually produce consciously is completely irrelevant (this seems to be based on conscious memorization and that’s not what you want. This idea has been incorrectly drilled into our brains by formal education. Language and lots of other things are a skill, not knowledge). What is relevant is what you can produce unconsciously or at least semi-unconsciously. Hopefully that kind of makes sense. I probably made up some words in there, but it should get the point across.


No what you said makes perfect sense. Funny you speaking about the brain. I am actually a Neuroscientist. Though my discipline is Nocioception (pain), although I have a good basis of knowledge of how memory functions (short/long term). Even us as adults learn just like infants and toddlers do, by listening, repeating…i.e Repetition. Thank you for your reply and advice. I guess the only answer, like anything else in the world, worth doing is time, reps and consistency. Take care


Wow! That was a very well though out explanation and answer. And I just read your entire post, in it’s entirety. My compliments! This should be published in a linguistic book! It is that well thought out and written. Probably like yourself, I hold 4 degrees. A double Bachelors in Neuroscience and Psychology and a double Master’s in the same disciplines. So, by trade I am a Neuroscientist. Though my specific area of interest/expertise is Nocioception( pain ) but I digress. I have read\written many scholastic articles and your’s was truly impressive. So, my point…I have read many articles on comprehensible input, language learning, how we, as humans learn the best. So I try never to go into the unknown, not knowing. Everything you wrote makes perfect logical sense. Again, very impressive my friend. Thank you for taking the time out of your day, to write to me and explain in detail!

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Wow, my friend you have the best explanation/answer I have EVER read!!! I will definitely incorporate this in my language learn plan of attack. Thank you, so very much my friend. I was wondering since you have a much better grasp on what works and what does not, can we possibly stay in touch and possibly practice Il nostro italiano per favore? Lastly, you wrote this article like a person in the United States with a high education i.e. a college degree!!! This is beyond impressive your grasp, knowledge and syntax of the English language. If I did not see you’re a native Russian, I would have guessed you were a Native English speaker here in America or possibly English, Australia!! Also, add the facts you speak four languages is beyond impressive. So in short, just read, listen more and cut out the speaking, correct? Any other tips/tricks? I know NOTHING beats time. repetitions and consistency, just like anything in life. I’m just shocked how good your English is my friend.

Glad to be of service…and even more glad to know I haven’t lose too much academic stride since languishing in civil service over the past 16 years and moonlighting in the private sector. Just two degrees here (Bachelor’s and Master’s), but debating a return to law school someday, which is a partial motivator for my partial study of Latin at present.

Good luck and keep us posted. This is an outstanding forum and you will quickly see some very knowledgable AND experienced individuals here who have very impressive knowledge and skills in this department.


Yes, read and listen a lot, stop speaking for 3-6 months, stop writing, browse grammar only if needed. When you read, do it out loud for at least 10 minutes every day: your pronunciation will improve by itself, without special exercises.

After these 6 months you could split the time in a following way:
reading 50-60%, listening 25-30%, speaking 5-15%, writing 0-5%, grammar 0-5%.
For me these values typically translate into 60 min/day reading, 30 min/day listening, 2x30 min/week speaking.

Book suggestion after you get to 20.000 known LingQs or 1.000.000 words read:
Jhumpa Lahiri - In altre parole. She writes about her love for Italian language and about the struggles she had to learn it, to make it her own language. For anyone who wants to learn Italian it’s a required reading. Buy it, upload it to LingQ and enjoy.

Here on LingQ search for “Learn Italian with Lucrezia” and “Podcast Italiano”. These are good materials to get you up to speed.

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also a side note those 600 hours are for c1 reading and speaking and I would argue listening is the hardest domain in every language because theres a minimum processing/execution requirement unlike the other domains. One can talk, read, and or write at one’s own pace/level but listening is dictated by the speed, slurriness, and vocab of the native speaker. So if listening is on the wish list more time is needed than what the FSI is advertising.

Is this on YouTube?