Most efficient way to learn a language (spoiler: by reading)

Probably most efficient way of learning a language is by getting really good at reading and then translating your reading abilities into listening ones. Not saying that reading and listening at the same time is not good, but it is only good at a certain point of your journey. That point is when you are good enough at reading and then you just read and listen and develop your listening skills from there. Or even just listen, try to understand and then check out the script.

Why most efficient? Because you lose a lot of time while trying to read and listen. Our brains are not really good at multi-tasking. You are going to stop audio many times because it is going too fast and your reading skills can’t catch up. And so on.

What do you think? :slight_smile:

1 Like

If one likes to listen and read, read, or just listen that is up to the individual. I have not become so automatic at my target language where I can or want to do this, but that might change in the future. There isn’t really magic about certain methods etc. Listening is probably the most fragile/delicate of all the domains, but there is a user who does flashcards only through audio which works for them. Whatever makes you engage with the language in the way you plan on using it go for it. In my case I like reading the best because lingq is awesome and one cant tackle stuff way above their level and doesn’t have to worry about wasting their time like listening to something that is too hard for them for example. Anyways just my opinion.


I agree. The primary principle we should follow is: ‘do what you like in limits of what’s good for your learning’. In that way, we are going to have more chances to last longer on the journey.

But, I’m trying to discuss ‘the most efficient method’ here with other users and come to (if possible) good conclusion that will help all of us to progress better.


I think it’s absolutely NOT a good idea to read before you’ve done a lot of listening. If you don’t know what the words sound like, reading becomes a guessing game. Therefore, if you’re stubborn enough, you’ll create such a mess that it’ll take another year to clean up. At least I did exactly this with English.
That’s why I’m convinced that you have to start with the sounds. The parallel reading is only to help you to make sense of the sounds.


Interesting. Thanks for your input! :slight_smile:

That´s true but it´sgonna differ from language to language. The “damage” is gonna be much greater for learners of English and French than for those learning Czech or Spanish^^


I am learning Polish and i am in a predicament too. I am at a stage where know very well most of the very common easy words. ( etc: Jest, to, co, dla, na, w, jestem, mam and so on) Words of this nature i have learnt through the mini stories. However i am finding the mini stories boring and unbareable to sit through now. I want to move up into material i will enjoy, however then it is to difficult for me. So i am trying also to figure out the most efficent process to get to a level in which i can start to absorb content i am interested in. Any tips on this i would love too.

On your topic matter, i spend most of my time reading. I feel i am best able to understand the words and the grammar slightly better. Especially in Polish where the grammar is just… wow haha, it seems almost impossible for me to understand what they are saying through listening as of this moment. I hope to be able to listen well maybe in a few months but right now i feel best reading, memorising vocabulary and sentence patterns and then developing from there. On top of this Polish pronunciation although it looks hard is quite simple, it is said how it is written so i am not loosing out i wouldent think in terms of pronunciation by primarily reading.


What’s your definition of a “learn a language”?

I personally agree that the best way to acquire vocabulary is by reading. BUT to Sergey’s and other’s points, you won’t know what the words are supposed to sound like. So beyond just acquiring a vocabulary you won’t be able to understand much when you do listen and you won’t be understood if you tried to speak.

So if your definition of “learn a language” just involves reading, then sure =). However, if your goal is to ultimately communicate with others then you’ll need to do listening and speaking as well.


I think one should do both and definitely some time to do both at the same time…just to match the words one reads to the sounds that are made. For my own, at least in the beginning, I would read once to understand, lingq, etc. But then I’d “read” and listen at the same time to match the words to sounds (not necessarily for understand meaning, unless the text was easy enough).


How many words of reading should I do before introducing listening into the mix?
And, how many hours of listening should I do to an extent where I can speak intelligently and natives do not tell me to repeat myself after every few seconds?

Just need your feedback regarding your language learning approach

1 Like

Yes, in my opinion, this is the right approach.

‘‘How many words of reading should I do before introducing listening into the mix?’’

I feel like you should read until you get to the point where you try to read and listen to something easy and you don’t have to pause and figure out the meaning of the text. You just go along, you don’t have difficulties of understanding the text and you just concentrate on listening.

When you come across some harder texts where you have to pause to figure out the meaning, then you have two choices: continue reading and increasing your vocabulary or continue reading and listening to the easy stuff. The second choice is at some point going to become not a good idea, because you already mastered easy stuff on reading and listening level and it is time to move on.

‘‘how many hours of listening should I do to an extent where I can speak intelligently and natives do not tell me to repeat myself after every few seconds?’’

Don’t have the answer to this one. My guess would be (based on learning English and Spanish) to keep on reading and listening and when you feel like you are ready to speak, do it. At the beginning it is going to be bad, but with practice, you are going to improve little by little. And also don’t stop with input. It will feed further your output.

My definition of ‘learn a language’ is to be able to understand a message that native speaker is trying to convey when speaking to you and be able to convey a message yourself back to whoever you are speaking to.

Read my reply to asad100101 to get a clearer perspective of how this process should look like (in my humble opinion). :slight_smile:

Read my reply to asad100101 to get a clearer perspective of how this process should look like (in my humble opinion). :slight_smile: