Looking for peoples advice / thoughts

I am not sure what to do right now with my language learning in 2022… I am just going to write some thoughts down below, sentences and paragraphs will be all over the place but I hope the questions I have come out with some sense of coherence and perhaps people can throw in their 2 cents.
So, basic run down… I have been definitely improving in my speaking confidence this year (albeit less significant than what I would have liked to have improve but I guess speed is not really something I should care about all that much) and have been able to say a lot more simple sentences but really haven’t been able to participate in conversation on anything more than a superficial level.

That being said, this year at Christmas, when people spoke loudly and clearly, and I actively listened like I do in my lessons at LingQ, I found myself understanding so much of the conversation. More than I ever have before and this has been genuinely really nice. To actually be able to listen and understand without even necessarily being given the context. However, there were still many times that I was in the dark which inevitability will be the case for some time yet.

So the questions I have for myself right now is as I feel that I am at a point that I can understand grammar lessons because I have sufficient vocabulary to do so, would it be worth my time and energy? The problem I have is that I find it incredibly boring and demotivating. I really don’t have much energy for it and being a medical student, not much time for it either… But, I have a sense that gaining some more conscious understanding of the grammar rules would enable me to participate a bit more in conversation because I will have a greater sense of security that I am speaking correctly, but also, I wonder, could it lead to me attaining more of the basic vocabulary units for active speaking rather than passive listening skills. I really don’t have the answer to this question of whether it would lead to this improvement… and I am wondering what peoples thoughts if i were to go on a narrow window of time, focusing on something that I don’t enjoy in-order to improve at something that may improve my chances of speaking. Or, should I continue listening and reading and just keep at it because it has got me this far already? Will those words just come as I do this more and more and continue trying to speak.


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If you’d like to learn more about grammar but find grammar lessons boring, there are a few alternatives; for example you can:

  • go through an Assimil course (book or online), which is mostly based on stories but contains grammar notes and grammar reviews every 7 lessons. I know some users have uploaded Assimil texts and recordings to Lingq.
  • get an introductory book that explains the main grammar points in a simple way,. Not a “grammar book”, mind you, but an introduction. Read a bit when you have time. At the same time, keep reading/listening to content you enjoy on a daily basis.
    In any case, don’t try to learn by heart or bother doing the exercises: read through the book you choose and try to spot the grammar points in your reading. Review as necessary.

Congratulations on your progress. I see you have realistic expectations about your learning curve. Judging by my experience in Russian, you can expect to take part in conversations with some ease (not perfectly ,of course) once you double your current know word count, which you may very well achieve next year.

So I’m learning Russian which is also slavic. I’ve successfully learned Spanish and French before this. I can speak Spanish pretty fluently. Russian grammar is a bit more complex than Spanish but in the grand scheme of things my guess is it’s only 50% worse. My reasoning is that Spanish has a ton more conjugations (Russian only has 3). Russian has “cases”. Spanish does or doesn’t? Don’t know. But I can speak it fine.

I can tell you what I did with Spanish and what I plan to do with Russian.

I concentrated on memorizing vocabulary in all three cases first. In the case of Spanish I then starting doing some courses and just mapped out English grammar to how I would say it in Spanish. I did it literally one chunk at a time over the course of a month and just memorized it. Like for example I learned the verb structure “I have done, he has done etc” for a bunch of verbs. for a couple of months that was how I communicated using past tense. Everything was “I have x, he has x” even though it was wrong I still used it. I then figured out how to speak in the future and present using simplest possible combination tenses (as in using auxiliaries). I was then able to communicate say another 10%. I repeated this until I had all of the tenses down. That was all I did with grammar. No formal courses. I think they’re a waste of time, especially if it’s explaining in English.

In Russian I brute force memorized 5,000 some vocabulary words over the last six months plus listened to at least 1-2 hours of youtube per day plus did some “reading” on lingQ most days by just clicking on the words sequentially. I can understand at high a2 or low b1 level is my guess. I’m hit and miss understanding some podcasters.

What I can’t do to save myself is speak Russian. I can string together messed up strings of words with no cases, no declension and half-assed conjugation. I have had a single live chat with a cool russian dude over zoom. He appeared to understand what I said but honestly I wasn’t having a conversation it was just me trying to say some stuff.

My conclusion like you is I need some grammar. But… I don’t think grammar courses work. Certainly not the ones you get taught to you in English.
I think it is possible, however, that you might get something from listening to intermediate or a2 level grammar teachers teaching the grammar in the native language. In Russian there is Tatiana Klimova, Maria Petrova and Ira (something) from about russian in Russian. I’m not sure if they will work. I still think trying to internalize rules of grammar is boring and difficult. That said, I have watched some classes from each of them and I find it useful to hear them try to explain stuff. But I think I’m getting more listening practice than grammar practice to be honest.

In the end I have no clue how to proceed other than building out model sentences in english and translating them into Russian and just brute force memorizing a bunch of them.

I suspect something like Shadowing might work or just rote repetition and maybe by osmosis the amount of repetition will build up muscle memory. Or not. I don’t know.

That said, maybe it doesn’t matter. Perfect grammar isn’t necessary to be understood. There are plenty of folks here in Canada whose first language is not English and whose English is not perfect but they can still be understood.

The last point: Steve Kaufmann is the real deal. He claims he uses lingQ as his entire system. And as far as I can tell he speaks fluent Spanish, fluent French and at least semi-fluent Russian. So maybe lingQ is all you need.

Anyhow, a little vague but maybe that was helpful.

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There are two alternatives that you can pursue for learning grammar naturally by using your deducing ability.

Ist Option:

  1. Sentence mining. Copy and paste sentences from your lingQ lessons in Anki along with their English translations in the answer field. Analyze each sentence then grade it accordingly. This active review of such sentences everyday will allow you to develop a natural intuition for grammar. Additionally, it will keep things fresh in your mind so that you can use it in your daily life.

2nd option:

  1. Read a bilingual book (Target Language-ENGLISH or ENGLISH-Target Language). Germans use such books to learn English. I bought such books recently on local eBay, perfectly written in contemporary English. I get to read slang, phrases, and idioms in German through side-by-side translation. Furthermore, I get to observe how different grammar tenses are formulated in German through such bilingual translation.

In sum, you need some sort of SRS app or a bilingual book to review grammar consciously and in a natural context. That’s my 2c.


Focus on what you need for your job and the people that you work with. Grammar comes with time and is needed for formal writing and communicating. Reading or listening to books in your TL will increase your grammar over time.

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