French has tons of English cognates so you might know a bunch more passively. Czech is slavic (partly) and is worse than Russian in that it has an additional case.
I suspect the issue is that it’s literature which can be flowery in its use of vocabulary. If your target was crime fiction I bet you would find you have almost no blue words at all.
Very much this. I’m super fluent in Spanish (in that I can function in the modern world). But if I try to read cervantes I bet I would struggle even more than a decade later.
Right. A proximate language you get a bunch of “for free”. A distant language you are learning everything from scratch. It takes time.
What do you men by partly slavic?
That feeling happens too in our native language. Some novels are very complex than others because of rare words / context used. That, however, doesn’t mean that you are not competent in the language if you don’t understand it. Try coming back to the first lessons you did on LingQ and you will see again that you have become better than when first started.
Also, try refreshing the grammar rules of the language that you are learning. Sometimes a lack of understanding is not that you don’t know the words, but the way the word is used in a sentence, like a conjugation, etc.
Finally, remember that LingQ mark as new word a word that is conjugated. So maybe you know 1 word, but LingQ marks each different conjugations of that same verb as a new word. So this means that maybe your words count is a bit inflated.
“What I tried to express is that I have expected to have some kind of big climactic experience at this stage. A feeling of really understanding the language. This has not happened at all. Instead, I have found that there is always the next level.”
The LingQ known words count is notoriously unreliable (for reasons Maria and others mentioned).
It would be better for language learners to just focus on the “number of words read” or the “number of hours invested”.
According to your stats on LingQ, you’ve only read ca. 2.7 million words in 4 years. That’s not much - even in Germanic or Romance languages, which are easier for native speakers of English compared to Slavic or non-Indo-European languages.
Possible reading numbers and possible language levels in reading comprehension (for native speakers of English)
Based on the discussions we had in the past on this forum, I estimate that you can achieve a B2-C1 / C1 level of reading comprehension with the following numbers of words read:
- Romance and Germanic language families: ca. 2.5 - 3 million words read
- Slavic language family (Czech, Polish, Russian, etc.): ca. 4 million words read
- Non-Indo-European languages (Arabic, Japanese, etc.): ca. 5 million words read (or even higher).
However, even a C1 level in reading comprehension isn’t particularly advanced for an educated native speaker. So, depending on the text, genre, etc., language learrners will still struggle (a lot) with many texts in their L2.
There are novels that are intrinsically difficult such as Marcel Proust’s “A la recherche du temps perdu”, Robert Musil’s “Man without qualities” (The Man Without Qualities - Wikipedia), etc.
Even (inexperienced) native speakers who think that reading such novels will be a walk in the park will never make it to the end.
Then there is specialized literature such as Niklas Luhmann’s “Theory of social systems” that even highly educated native speakers on a PhD level and above aren’t able to understand - at least “unprepared”.
Or, to put it another way: a large vocabulary alone means nothing for such texts, because readers need a great deal of philosophical and social-scientific background knowledge about concepts, methods, and theoretical approaches of the preceding traditions and the contemporary counter-positions - otherwise they are simply “lost”.
Adjusting your expectations
“I have found that there is always the next level.”
It’s not a good idea to become “too obsessed” with stats, metrics and goals.
Just enjoy the ride.
And I hope for you it’ll be a wild language ride with fascinating encounters
you can download hundreds of novels (Maupassant, Proust, etc.) from the TV5 website: Tous les livres - Bibliothèque NUMERIQUE TV5MONDE
However, trying to read Proust with less than 150k words read (at least according to your stats on LingQ) is probably not a good idea
It’s a better reading strategy to start with contemporary non fiction texts (Harari’s “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus” are my go to books for language learning at the moment) and then switch to contemporary popular fiction such as Grangé’s “Crimson Rivers” (Les Rivières Pourpres), etc. before trying to tackle the classics (Proust, Flaubert, etc.).
And reg. your question in another thread:
Yes, you can remove the DRM from Amazon’s Kindle books:
Thanks for this link. And thanks also for the info on how to remove DRMs.
I have read À la recherche … many years ago.
I stopped at 15,000 on Lingq for French only because it was a tidy number, and it takes a long time to read hundreds of short articles that contain only a few blues, or even to find materials that are both interesting and offer high numbers of blues.
I also decided to get the other languages all to the same point eg 15,000 or whatever (totally arbitrary and open to whim) so that at least the whole polyglot thing becomes manageable for me. I had started to feel like it was a millstone round my neck trying to juggle a number of languages, trying to get regular exposure, trying to get equal exposure for each one, trying to obtain the same standard in each, etc, but now I have discovered that Lingq has provided a solution to my problem.
I can get each to eg 5555, or 10,000 or 20,000 or whatever I choose, and then cycle through each language in my list, getting each then to eg 6666 or 11,000, or 21,000, by whatever my chosen increment may be. I like very much that the mess that existed before has given way to order, and tidiness, and confidence in knowing I am at a certain point. My current thinking is that I will probably get the others up to the 15,000 mark as in French, before then recommencing the cycle with French, and adding 1,000 to French, then 1,000 to the next, 1,000 to the next and so on across the list. Over a year, this will make for a very appealing and rewarding hobby.
Thanks again, Peter.
I just had a look at Peter’s suggestion on TV5 and totally recommend everyone learning French has a look at it. Great! There are 642 free novels!
Eh I’m not an expert in Czech by any means and didn’t even bother to google but I vaguely recall (and I could be wrong) that Czech has some elements of Germanic languages but is mostly Slavic?
Again this is from very foggy memory probably from a bar-room conversation 20 years ago so take it for what it’s worth.
Also: another point I forgot to mention is the psychology of trying to learn a language.
If you think of it as open ended and that is a burden from the way you see things, you’re creating problems for yourself.
Try to reframe it as “you get to use it for the rest of your life as a new language”.
Another way to reframe things is to shoot for specific targets that are clearly specified and numeric so they are not open-ended. This will give you a sense of satisfaction:
e.g. I want to read the entire twilight series twice during 2022 OR I want to watch the entire “Back to the Lake” series twice with English subtitles, twice with Russian subtitles only and twice without subtitles during 2022.
My specific goals (if that helps):
I want to read the entire narnia series before end of year in LingQ russian.
I want to watch the entire “Better than Us” and “The Method” series with English subtitles in 2022 (done).
I want to get to Advanced 1 before the end of the year (in progress).
I want to watch the first season of “Better than Us” and “The Method” with only Russian subtitles once before the end of the year.
I want to have 8,000 head words fully memorized “mature” in anki.
I want to watch the entire series of “Anna Petrova” russian before the end of the year without subtitles.
^^^ these make it psychologically easier for me to handle rather than no fixed goals.
Hopefully that helps.
“Thanks for this link. And thanks also for the info on how to remove DRMs.”
Glad I could help.
“Over a year, this will make for a very appealing and rewarding hobby.”
Interesting experiment of “cycling through all your L2s”.
Please keep us posted on how this goes for you
and what the pros and cons of this approach are!
For me, it had nothing to do with “Known Words” and everything to do with “Total Words Read.” 1 million words read felt like I was making progress. 2 million words read felt like I was competent. I’m aiming for 11,000,000 words read in the fullness of time. I think that the total number of words read in a language is the single most useful metric to track.
Infinite Jest is literally an Infinite Jest on anyone trying to read a book comfortably. I had to quit that book after 20 pages lol.
I have the same framework. I don’t know if you saw the same paper as I did, because I first came across it on the LingQ forums, but according to one corpus analysis, 11,000,000 words read is sufficient to get exposure to the 9,000 most common word families. I have no idea what that translates into in LingQ words in my language (Italian), but I’ll find out eventually.
My words read on LingQ is inflated by the fact that for everything I read, I re-read at least once while listening to the audio, and then a third time after doing vocabulary review on all the LingQs in the book - plus the podcast transcripts that I’ve been working - but I’m tracking the total word count of the books I’ve read separately, without double counting. I’m at about 450,000 words read and I feel reasonably comfortable in the language with the material I am reading, though I know I’m nowhere near ready to read Il Nome della Rosa, which will be a major checkpoint for me.
This is very interesting…is there a way on Lingq to set a goal for the amount of words read? If so I have not yet stumbled across it…
I don’t think Lingq will count the words again if you re-read a lesson.
You can see the words read in your statistics, just look up words of reading all time. There you can see how far off the goal you set for yourself you are.
It does now that they’ve made words read increment automatically as you read.