Listening endurance

Hello all,

Last time I was struggling to understand why I needed Lingq’s and how to judge their phases. Using the advice I got, I now have a query that I assume more people have dealt with. Reading I do a lot, and assigning lingq’s is easy and I do that a lot too. However, in order to get a good grasp of the language I am learning (Finnish), I also need to listen a lot. That is where I get into trouble.

After reading and assigning lingq’s I am ready to listen. I usually listen while reading, and sometimes just listen. I find both exercises (listening solo, listening + reading) exhausting. The maximum time I have been able to do this is about 20 - 30 minutes. Then, the words blend together and I can no longer follow what the person is saying, even if I am reading. I must confess I have only started seriously listening, after I had started and done 3 weeks, just reading with trivial amounts of listening.

I am very motivated to learn Finnish, but the amount of listening I will need (according to the yt-videos of Steve) is about 100 hours before entering the next stage. Doing 20-30 minutes a day just is not enough if I want to progress. Ideally, I would spend about 1 - 2 hours of listening, but as it is now, I have no idea how to accomplish that.

Has any of you guys has had that problem? If so, how did you deal with it? Is this a training thing? Is it a focus thing? Is there some other way to increase the amount of time I can endure listening?

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I have the same issue to a degree. I have difficulty staying focused if lots of distractions and if not enough of a distraction my mind sometimes starts to wander.

Reading + listening is not so bad in terms of distractions because you are also focused on reading, but certainly bit of fatigue comes into play. Maybe you can break up the time? So 2-4 separate sessions over the course of the day. Or going until you feel the fatigue and then trying again later? Obviously, trying to find content that is interesting to YOU will be ideal, if you can find at your level. I’m not sure what you’ve been using for content…if just the stuff in LingQ you might want to see if there are other things you can import? Finnish news sites (especially if there are “slow” or beginner news material). Maybe online magazines? Youtube content? Finnish will likely be harder to find these kind of materials at an appropriate level for you, but maybe someone can help. Also check the sticked post at the top that might have links to good Finnish content.

For listening only, you can try listening while driving. Or listening while taking a walk. Something that provides some stimulation, but doesn’t occupy too much of your brain. I tend to have trouble if I’m doing chores that require a bit of thinking. Otherwise some of the same ideas above apply here.

I’ve mostly gotten by with about 15-30 min a day so far. I’d say I’m still a little ways behind my reading level. I should probably be a fair amount higher in listening time. I do have a lot more listening time outside of LingQ (girlfriend and parents speak in German, watching German tv shows)…however much of this is at levels beyond my comprehension so I don’t really count it.

You want to maintain something you can sustain though. If forcing yourself to do 1-2 hours is going to be too fatiguing then you won’t continue and will probably just give up. I’d suggest to some degree to manage expectations. Learning a language is a long road. Enjoy the process. Try not to get frustrated and know that you are continually improving every time you read or listen to something.


Thanks, those are actually good tips. I think I will plan 2 times tomorrow, see what happens. Will let you know what I find. Thanks.


I think 20-30 minutes a day is perfectly fine as a starting point for reading and listening. You can gradually increase from there – but you can also just stick to 30 mins and make great progress over time. 30 mins is about what I do with Spanish, and I can’t even do it every day, yet I’m making progress just fine.

I was never one of those people who did 2 hours a day with a language. I learned all my languages more or less in 30 / day sessions. That is until I got advanced enough to be able to read books for longer periods of time. But even then, about an hour to 90 mins a day, or about 20-30 pages a day is all I usually have attention span for.

I second Eric’s thoughts on listening only – it requires another simultaneous activity for me, such as driving, walking, etc. On long road trips I can do maybe 2-3 hours – but usually my daily listening is between 30-60 minutes a day even after being in the advanced stages.

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I spend 3 hours for my listening activity and most of it is in passive mode (thanks to wireless earphones). I would go to Youtube and find content that I could understand somewhere around 70 or 80%. I listen, get the general idea, pick some up new vocabulary, notice patterns, collect chunks, etc. Sometimes I speed up the video to 1.25x or 1.5x depending on the speaker. In this manner I can listen to more stuff in my target language. After listening I log the number of minutes here in LingQ.

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Ok, that puts stuff in perspective. I actually thought that everyone else was “easily” doing 1 - 2 hours, and I was the only one “suffering”. But, your reply also suggests that it gets easier over time (or after progressing enough), which is really good to know. Thanks for your reply.

Wow, that is impressive. What I don’t get is how you can pick up vocab while doing other stuff. I think that is because I am still a beginner, and listening to a podcast, I don’t immediately get the gist of the sentence yet. As t_harangi suggests, when progressing this should matter less. When I have progressed more, I will consider your way of doing it. Thanks for your answer.

When listening actively I’m ready to take notes or quickly look up meanings. The tendency for many beginners as it was in my experience was not to listen because you definitely will understand less than 10% of it or maybe nothing at all.

It’s frustrating.

But when you’re just starting out, understanding everything is not the point and this is what Steve and many people here in LingQ have advocated. The point is to saturate your brain with your TL. That’s why it’s critical to find content that you enjoy.

For example at this moment, I’m more comfortable with the topic of language learning in Spanish as I can understand a good portion of the content. I listen passively for simpler topics (discover new verbs, grammar structures, how they form sentences) and import harder topics in LingQ for a closer investigation.

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It gets easier over time as you become more adapted to the language. And there’s nothing wrong with taking breaks and breaking your sessions up.

Yeah, we’d like to be a perfect machine but we are humans. Probably something like that! :wink:

I struggle to keep focus on reading or listening for a long period of time too. But this is quite normal if you’re at the beginning. Your brain needs to adapt and metabolize and this takes a lot of energy. You want to avoid any burn-out.

I think the best would be just to push us a little bit more than the minimum (and I say that to myself too). So, if you’re doing 20 minutes is ok. But after a week, you should try to push for 22’, and another week 24’. I mean, our brain tends to sit to avoid fatigue but we can push us a little bit more all the time to increase our minimum level of stress tollerance.

It’s just an idea. But when you want to stop or feel to stop, just do a little bit more, even 1 minute. Don’t force your brain too hard.

When I started to learn the other languages I know it was the same it’s today with German. Now I can watch tv or read in any other language all day without effort but with German I get tired very quickly. It’ll go away, I hope :smiley:

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I want to thank everyone for your advice. As this is the first journey, I am still conquering the process. I will try out some of the tactics suggested here, until something sticks. I think the most important thing is to keep at it, keep having fun, and not push too far.

Thank you all for commenting.

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I watched Russian YouTube and films for entertainment even when I couldn’t understand much. I didn’t stress about it, and it’s not wearisome if it’s entertaining. Somewhere along the way, while building vocabulary with LingQ, I started to understand more until now, depending on speaker and topic, I can understand most. I don’t know if there’s enough Finnish content out there for you to repeat this experience, though.
BTW, I subscribed to a bunch of YT bloggers because I was tickled anytime I could understand any of them (few use very sophisticated vocabulary), and I could enjoy the visuals of their pranks and challenges even without understanding all the words. Now that I understand them, I find many of them banal and uninteresting. ))

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This is actually a good idea. From what you say I gather you did not stop the tape and look up words, did you? It sounds credible enough to try it. The contents may not be as abundant as for some other languages, but I am sure when I start looking I should be able to find something. I had been looking for YT video’s in the past, but most were talk-only, no action. I will see if I can find video’s where more things happen.
Thank you for the tip!