On statistics and passive listening

For me it is not very useful to have these statistics of how many times I read or listened to something. I always, when I am done with a content item, update them to one as if I read or listened to the content just once. I do my listening or reading often but on different occasions and I do not focus on how many times I do it. I would also like to say that word count statistics and the idea of selecting unfamiliar words out of known words is great.

I would also like to ask you about your listening. Often when I have my mp3 player on and listen to something I stop concentrating on what I am listening to and start thinking over something else in my own language. Do you think in such moments it is more wise to make a break or this passive listening is also valuable?

Thanks for the feedback marcin82. Regarding our statistics, they are there to help you keep track of your activities on the site. If you don’t find certain statistics useful, then you don’t have to use them. Use the features and statistics that you find useful.

Having said that, I know that I personally do like the reading and listening times updater. I find it very convenient to take the times listened number out of iTunes, which is updated every time I sync my iPod, and go back and enter these numbers in for the Items I’m studying now. I find this is much easier for me than trying to remember how long I have listened each day. I know that all my listening is recorded by my iPod and I can update it whenever I like.

As for the reading, I have no way of estimating the number of words I read so again I find this counter very helpful. But I’m only keeping these statistics for me and if you’re not interested in knowing these numbers, then just don’t worry about it.

You should also not worry about not listening as intently all the time. You will always have times when you are paying more attention to what you are listening to than at other times. Even when you’re not concentrating, the language is still rattling around in your head and it’s still good.

There is someone who says that ‘passive listening’ is an important part of an effective language learning process. Vera F. Birkenbihl ( http://www.birkenbihl.de/ , http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/3923984499/ref=sib_rdr_dp ) says that you should intentionally spend some time doing that, with every new material. Yet, what is important, you should do that only with material which you already translated, which is understandable for you.


There are many theories. My preference is to listen to content that is a little difficult for me, but not too difficult. That is how we designed LingQ. Ideally content with 10-20% new words.

There are many factors which influence how useful content is for language learning.

  1. It should be of interest
  2. The voice should be pleasing
  3. It should not be too difficult or too easy, in other words by struggling to understand you are forging new connections in the brain.
  4. It should also be familiar. By that I mean that it is useful to listen more than once. At first, when you are new in a language this can be 30-50 times. Later on it may 3 to 5 times. All of this helps to solidify the neural connections that you have made.

but mostly do what you enjoy doing, that will ensure that you spend enough time with the language.


I like ‘your preference’. I have enjoyed learning English much more since I found the LingQ and I read your book about learning languages. When I wrote ‘understandable’ I was thinking about content like you described above, with 10-20% new words but it must be first worked out with LingQ, meaning, first I listen to a new material ‘active’, next I read and create “LingQ Item” for everyone of words which I do not know before, just now I use that material to ‘passive listening’. I am not sure if that is useful (‘passing listening’), but I feel that in this way I increase the time which I spend with English because I do it while watching television or working at computer in my native language. With everything what you wrote about ‘interest’, ‘pleasing’, ‘level of difficulty’, ‘number of repetitions’ and ‘enjoying’ I agree in 100%, it is true for me too. I am sorry for my shortcut. I should to be more precise.

Hi Steve,

I’ve been enjoying several of the french podcasts both alone and in-series like Qui et elle and Manger a l’exterieur which I’m listening to now. I like listening to the entire series from beginning to end once each then repeating. Is it, in your experience, better to go over one of the parts 20-30 times, then move on to the next? Or to just keep listening to them in series? The reason I’m asking is because I’ve gone over the same part many times just to see what happens and I notice I get more retention but there is also the underwhelmingness of anticipation since I already “know” what they are going to say I don’t feel as if I’m learning (ie my brain doesnt hurt as much) but my comprehension is high… but I am afraid that may just be due to having memorized the meaning of the excerpt and not having gone “thru” the language to derive the meaning… si je ne m’abuse!

Hi Roy, Welcome aboard.

Both of the dialogues you mention have a fairly steep curve of difficulty. I would recommend moving on to the next episode as soon as you are tired of the one you are on, or understand about 80% of it. As long as you do not understand it all you are more focused on listening and you are forging (I believe), new connections in the brain. I usually go back to the beginning each time I move on. So that after doing episode 11 a few times, I will listen to 1-11 at least once and then do lesson 11 again a few times, and then move on.

By the way, I looked you up and see that you are from Australia, and I hope one day you will record something or find us some content from that lovely part of the world, with that rich Southern Hemisphere twang.

Thanks Steve. Yes for sure - when I find a topic and some people to have a dialogue with I’ll record it and send it in! cheers.