Learning languages which are very related to ones you already know

I had looked a little at Norwegian a few months ago and gone to about 1.100 known words or so. Then I got into reading it quite a lot in the last 4 days and even though I work full time and have kids, I managed to get to over 10.000 known words in this time. This would be completely impossible for a language that is both new and foreign to you, but I´m already a native Icelandic speaker and more importantly, fluent in Danish and Swedish.

From my LingQ stats I see that I´ve actually understood about 98,5% of the words the first time I saw them or marked them as known from the first time I saw the translation cause I was confident I´d understand them the next time I´d see them. It hardly feels like I´m learning a new language and I´m sure it does not feel fair to anyone who is trying to be in the top for most known Norwegian words (sorry about that but don´t worry too much cause I won´t be learning Norwegian for that long, I´ll be gone and learning another language in a month at most).

It felt a little like this when I was learning Dutch (being fluent in German and English and fluently literate in French + the Nordic languages I mentioned), but to a much, much lesser extent. Then I´d also often spend up to 8hrs a day reading Dutch (unemployed cause of the Corona crisis) and would get around 1K known words a day till I got to about the 21K mark.

What are your thoughts and experiences with this? Anyone else had a similar experience?


I don’t agree with this “not being fair” and I can’t see why you should apologize for reading Norwegian on Lingq. If this site had to prioritize bragging rights over real learning it would be a failue, pure and simple. I frankly dislike excess “gamification” because of how unrealistic and counterproductive it ends up being. The case you present is just one example.
If you apply this kind of logic, where exactly do you draw the line? Are you not allowed to learn Ukrainian after Russian as Steve did? Would native English speakers be banned from learning French because the similarity in vocabulary gives them an “unfair” advantage over, say, Chinese speakers?
The Lingq site has terms of service that establish which is or is not allowed, I would stick to them and forget about wounded egos.
As for your question. Yes, of course, there are quite a few languages that are very close to my native Spanish and I find I understand most words, even the first time I tried. Knowing a few more Romance Languages (as you know other Germanic ones) makes it even easier. I also found that I could understand a lot of, say, Dutch or Norwegian from my previous knowledge of English and German.
However, I have never studied seriously a language like that on Lingq, mostly because I tend to concentrate on just one or two at any point although I do dabble in a few others. But rest assured that I would have no qualms learning a language of that kind if that were my goal and I wouldn’t care about being very high on the leaderboard, just as I don’t give a d**n about scoring low in the languages I have chosen.

Yes I imagine someone who is fluent in 3 Romance languages wouldn´t have too much trouble learning a 4th one. Me learning Norwegian is a perhaps bit like someone fluent in Portuguese, French and Italian learning Spanish. I´ve been challenged to learn Spanish on LingQ myself and will start with that sometime this next winter if nothing comes up, so I´m curious as to how my knowledge of French (fluent literacy but far from being a fluent speaker) will help me along there.

Don´t get me wrong. I don´t think anyone should be banned from reading/learning anything in LingQ, even their own native language and the apology is light-hearted. It´s just more that I hope when they see stats like that, they realise they don´t have to feel bad if they compare themselves, thinking this is someone learning a language that is as foreign to them as it is to themselves or perhaps worse, think this is someone cheating to get a high word count.

What you did is not cheating. There’s a bot at the type of the Spanish leader board. That “read” 130,000 word in a single day. I posted a screenshot on the forum but no one replied. I wont be doing challenges anymore after this.

Is it just the fact that that person read 130,000 words that made you think they were cheating? I import e-books into Lingq and finishing 65 lessons a day does not seem impossible to me. I am currently not working due to the covid-19 situation and I have a lot of free time, which I spend reading in foreign languages. This is probably similar to a lot of other people, who are using this time to learn languages.

1 Like

It seems quite possible to me to read 130K words in a day. Average reading speed should be around 200-300 words a minute. So if you can read 300 words a minute, which is only the upper limit of average, you should be able to do it if you spend 7hrs and 12 mintues of your day reading. That´s quite possible for someone does not have to work that day or just stays up all night binge reading. I have probably spent about 8 hrs on LingQ on some days, probably quite often 4-6 hrs on days when I didn´t have to work.

1 Like

They might as I did google you when I saw how much quicker you were than me in Dutch. It soon became apparent why. Hopefully the same for me when I move to German.

1 Like

The numbers you used don’t apply for a variety of reasons. First, it depends on the content that is being read. Second, the average that you stated is for adults reading in their native language. So we would have to assume that the user is on the level of an upper average adult reader, which would mean that the user essentially fluent, when it comes to reading at least. This would also assume that the user doesn’t look up words or makes lingqs, which takes time in itself. 130,000 words a day is even a stretch a native speaker with free time all day. Let say they read for literally 24 hours straight, that is still 5416 words per hour. For the sake of argument you could say it is possible, but I don’t believe it.

If they don´t know the language well and/or are slow readers, then it would be impossible but if they are good at the language already then it´s quite possible.

I can´t speak for this person. I don´t know anything about them. But I can tell you that I could quite easily read 130K words in quite a few languages on LingQ if I was motivated and had nothing to bother or disturb me for a whole 24 hrs. If it was in English (especially) or even Swedish, Danish or German, which I´m fluent in and I just drank lots of coffee and spent something like 12 hrs on it, I think I´d get there quite handily. I just have a hard time seeing the point in doing that though.

So if this person is already fluent or fairly fluent in Spanish, has nothing to bother them and is willing to read on LingQ all day and is a fairly fast reader, I see no reason they couldn´t pull it off. I think you should look how many LingQs they made and if they are extremely few, they may just be flipping pages without reading. But then again that could also just mean they are native speakers or fluent to a high degree.

Now I had someone removed from LingQ for cheating very recently, but that account had managed 10K known words in Polish in 36 minutes, 8K in Norwegian in 102 minutes, 26K Finnish words in 3 hrs and other similarly crazy stats in more languages.

Hi Elling. I do remember seeing your name somewhere close to the top of the most known words for Dutch when I was studying it the hardest.

I´m really curious though, did googling me show that I was a polyglot and which languages I speak? I did put it in my LingQ profile, but of course anyone could make up stuff in their profile if they wanted to.

A little further research on this. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 168,923 words and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 198,227 words. I read each of them in 2 days when they came out and it´s not like it was the only thing I did in those two days. So let´s say I´d decide to read as much English on LingQ I could, like my life depended on it, again I should be able to read 130.000 words, even with the slowing down of marking LingQs, reflecting, taking breaks etc. But then again, English is almost like it´s my native language to me. The person you talk about my still be cheating, like I said, but it´s not a given.

Correction. I accidentally looked at “LingQs learned” instead of total “LingQs” so that means I understood 95% of the words or so, not 98,5%

@cssimmo You might be missing the point of doing challenges.