One million words read (French)

I was in a used bookstore the other day and I checked out the tiny French section and discovered I could read a French crime novel, with some gaps of course, but I was reading – without LingQ.

I’ve hit various LingQ milestones – I’m currently at Advanced 1 – but one million Words Read happened just as I realized I had reached a decent reading level of French.

Perhaps Words Read are a better gauge of progress. I like that it is somewhat more objective than a user clicking Known on some encounter with a word.

Furthermore, One Million Words better conveys the long-term effort that language learning requires.


Congrats! and agreed words read is a great measurement for progress. I found you have more resiliency for coming across words that you are unsure of around that point.

I find without lingq i assume and read ahead more so i am able to guess at meanings without the crutch

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Congrats! That is a very cool milestone!!

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@jt23 Compare this to me recently passing 1M words read in Russian, where I’ve only marked just over 1,000 words as Known, so I just got my Beginner 1 badge. The second million words read is faster than the first million. At my level in Russian, I’ll get my second million words read in maybe 125 hours (1M words / 8k words per hour) or perhaps slightly less.

This is my strategy to up my reading speed.


I miss out so much on undetsanding of the text if I do L-R approach. My subconscious mind does not comprehend text if I follow along a narrator. I will not consider it as pure reading. If I just want to develop/register understanding of the sounds of individual words. Then I perhaps use this approach.

I believe Steve does not mean quantity in the sense of doing L-R. More like normal reading. Reading more books. Reading a variety of content. Yeah it is true. Quantity is important.

I do not know if I m doing L-R approach correctly. Do you guys read a few sentences ahead while listening?


I agree it’s not the same as only reading. Pure reading increases your reading ability at a faster rate than reading while listening. However, you are missing out on the other benefits you get from reading while listening though: namely, increased reading speed (unless you are already a highly competent reading), learning the prounciation of individual words, practising your listening comprehension, associating the sounds to their written forms, etc. I consider, reading while listening as a technique which improves more language skills and as a whole faster to develop those skills than doing each skill individually. Maybe some random numbers could be like reading while listening gives you 70% of the reading comprehension benefit of pure reading, but also 70% of listening comprehension benefit of pure listening at the same time. These are just random numbers just to give you an idea of my thoughts. I can also increase my reading speed by at least 50%, if I’m playing the audio at the same time. At least I get these benefits up until a point. Once you get to a level of like B2+ or C1, like you are in German, reading while listening has less value and you really need to practise the individual skill areas. Reading while listening is really a technique mainly for beginners to upper intermediates / lower advanced.

From my understanding, reading while listening plays only a minor role in @steve’s language study. As he uses LingQ, his main studies are selecting definitions from a list (in Arabic he has 85k lingQs after all). Though, maybe he has auto-lingQ turned on. Digs aside, the context of his recommendation to read more was as a method to increase your vocabulary. Both pure reading and reading while listening are both methods to increase your vocabulary. The main criteria are to just encounter lots of unknown, not-yet-known words and have the ability to quickly look up their definitions (selecting the best definition in a list for @steve or glancing down at the English translation for me with dual subtitles on). You can also get this look-up definition ability by listening to content with English subtitles. The key is just focussing on listening and only when you don’t understand a word, read the English subtitles.

The ideal situation is to be looking at the word at the exact time it’s being spoken. Though, it’s not always like this, as I need to glance down at the translation to get the definition of the unknown word or maybe I momentarily zone out, so then I have to catch up by ‘speed reading’ / skimming. Though, there are hotkeys to easily repeat the subtitle. When I was doing reading while listening on LingQ, I’d have to quickly scan ahead looking for the blue words, so I could quickly mark them as Known or quickly select the best definition from the list. Though, I don’t do that anymore, as the vast majority of my reading while listening is done with dual subs while watching the YouTube video. It probably takes a few hours to get used to the technique, but I don’t suspect it takes too long.


@asad100101 I have similar problems, but I think if you do it enough it gets better. The main problem I had in the beginning, I think, is that I just wasn’t used to the speed. I do so much more reading/listening separately, that my reading I think becomes slow…in the sense that I overanalyze each sentence. Certainly when there is a blue or yellow word and I don’t quite understand the sentence. In any event, doing the L+R for me, helps me speed up the comprehension of words that I do know (WITH TIME…this is not an immediate result of L+R for me). i.e. it feels like I comprehend a lot quicker (WITH TIME). The sentences and word in a lot of cases I may not understand, but sometimes I’ve found that reading fast can actually help the contextual understanding of the sentences with words I don’t know (with or without listening). Not always, and maybe not a significant part of the time, but enough to notice.

You definitely pass by words you don’t know, you may be lost for a bit (or the whole thing). It could be that the material is much too difficult and therefore maybe you are mostly just getting the sounds. However, I still think it can stimulate the speed of comprehension of the words you do know, but, if you’re not understanding large chunks you might lose interest. I usually do any L+R outside of LingQ, so frankly, if I lose too much in translation, I’ll just grab the hunk of text and stick it in the translator and read that so I’m not lost. But mostly I’m doing this with stuff that is a step above my level.

You can always do a “slow” read after in LingQ and get the meaning of each word and sentence after. Or before maybe would be better? i.e. do your LingQ work and then L+R after. I’ve read noxialisrex mention not looking up a word unless he sees it 3 times.

I don’t think L+R you use solely (at least I’ve not been able to trust completely) , but rather as a tool to spend some time with in your language learning.


I don’t. I try to keep it line as much as possible. I do keep the pace at a pace that I can keep up, but is still driving me a little faster than I want. So far I’ve generally not gone above 1x unless someone is particularly slow. I’ve not tried at the pace that Peter Bormann or noxialisrex have suggested in the past.

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How I R+L really changes depending on how well I comprehend. In the beginning there might be so many blue words that I am just rapidly trying to LingQ them in time with the narrator.

Then slowly that shifted and more towards “flashcards” each time I see a yellow word it’s an opportunity to see if I understand it in context.

Then it slowly shifts to I understand nearly everything and it is very rare I ever get hung up on a word or sentence.

The entire time I am increasing the audio speed to a level that is comfortable , and I think the big difference it makes is it stops me from sub-vocalizing and forces me to move onto the next thing regardless of how much I comprehended. If I understood nothing that’s okay, maybe next time.

It really is a different experience than just reading or just listening. Even in English for me. I have over the past year started to enjoy more “slow” and careful reading and will only R+L if I need to read something quickly (I can comfortably R+L 16.000+ wph in German, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish).


@robertbiggar Thanks!

At this point I do find I have much more ability to infer meanings from context.

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@asad100101 I make no claims to authority on correct Listening/Reading. I can tell you what I do while in Sentence View.

  • I work intensively. Using LingQ I nail down almost everything in each sentence – meanings, grammar and expressions. If the LingQ resources don’t handle something, I ask ChatGPT 4.

I don’t necessarily recommend this approach. Many say a more extensive approach – skipping the difficult bits, learning the C+1 parts, then moving on, in order to cover the language more quickly.

I can understand that in theory, but constitutionally that’s not the way I learn, maybe because deep down I’m a software engineer. “Don’t worry and figure it out later” is less of an option in my biz.

I handwrite down the new words, important grammar and interesting phrases into a journal.

  • The audio is crucial to me. I read each sentence while listening several times. Linking the text and the sounds together is essential. I recite or shadow the text as I feel moved to, especially when the sounds compose a tongue twister for an English speaker.

I’ve also added a “Just listen” pass, courtesy of LeifGoodwin. I listen to the text without trying to understand it. I try to hear the sounds exactly as they are, with as much detail as possible. Then I I listen again, hearing the sounds resolve into words.

  • On to the next sentence. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Again, I don’t necessarily recommend my practice. It’s what I’ve done. It’s working. Maybe other approaches would have worked as well or better.


Are you talking about extensive reading while listening without the ability to look up the definitions of words? You can do reading while listening either extensively (no access to a dictionary/translation) or semi-intensively (access to a dictionary/translation). I prefer to do my reading while listening with a translation sentence underneath (i.e. dual subtitles), so if there’s a word I don’t know, I can quickly search for it’s definition. Having a hover-over dictionary is also very useful, when you can’t get the definition from the sentence translation.

My primary focus using this technique all the way through the beginner and intermediate stages is vocabulary acquisition. I just use this technique to also gain reading and listening comprehension at the same time. Plus linking the sound to its written form, which is particularly important in a new alphabet and non-phonetic writing systems.

We discussed the different approaches for vocabulary acquisition last year here, if you remember: Is extensive or intensive reading faster for vocabulary acquisition?

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Hi nfera. I remember the discussion for sure.

I’d say I do a mix of both, but it also kind of depends on the material that I’m L+R’ing

  1. Mostly I’ve been doing it with the Easy German podcast. I’m a podcast “patreon” so I have access to their transcriptions via the reader they use (seems to be powered by scriptea ( scriptea ) . In any event, with my podcast app, or via the web url, it provides keyword + definition for some of the words within that time range, so I can usually do a quick check at the top of the page and get a quick meaning and keep going. Also, at the end of each person speaking it’ll offer a translation of the bit of speaking they just did. If I feel a little lost, then I may pause and have it show the translation and I’ll read that.

  2. Articles from websites - If I don’t care to load to LingQ, then I’ll use Edge Browser reader mode and do L+R. Mostly not stopping or looking up anything. Sometimes I’ll load it into LingQ later and do an intensive read or I’ll just skip to the blue and yellow words and read in context to do more of a review.

  3. E-Book + Audible - Here I’ll have LingQ up for the reader and audible going for the L+R. Mostly I’m not looking up anything as I’ve already read it. Occasionally I might click a word.

I’d love to be doing more of all the above because I do feel it helps with improving speed of comprehension and recognizing of sounds to words (especially for authentic native speaking), but I just usually don’t have a lot of time to do so. Reading alone or listening alone I can usually fit in pockets of time here and there so I do much more of these activities.


Your approach is very interesting. You interact with the language actively like for example shadowing or writing important words and phrases. I will try this approach.

This third medium narrators voice is like a barrier between my subsconcious mind and the target language text. Perhaps I should read the whole book in the first place then I should do L-R of the same book.

It is not the difficulty of the book that is problematic per se even with short texts/short lessons if I do L-R even without reading them in advance I have a problem understanding the text. Once I have read the text beforehand, I can do L-R easily with 100% understanding (but again I have done this with short lessons, I am not sure about novels).

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I’m with you there! If I dislike a French voice or the French audio, it really detracts from learning.

For now I stick with the standard French female TTS voice on LingQ. When I’m more advanced, I’ll have to branch out to more voices and audio environments, but for now I find the TTS voice challenging enough.

I spend so much time listening and reading because I find listening accurately far more difficult than I expected. I do a lot of repeating and shadowing because I find pronouncing French likewise more difficult.

I also believe working on the listening and repeating strengthens vocabulary acquisition.

What does L-R mean? As in L-R approach


I’m currently watching an American film dubbed into French. There are two lead characters, male and female. The female doesn’t stop yacking in a loud grating voice, it drives me nuts. I think it is a very sexist female stereotype, which irks me.

For me listening to real French has been the big accelerator. Hearing words in context again and again is key. I try to listen to a range of voices to expand my skills, even though some people are very hard to follow. That said, dubbed films tend to be easier.

Reading and Listening at the same time. Adjust the speed of audio in some cases to push things a little (or slow down if needed).


Thanks. Yes I do that a lot, it’s perhaps the most useful form of lesson that I do.

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I’ve read 1.2 million words of French.

For me, I’d say, I can read almost everything in French. For modern, general-knowledge content, if I don’t know a word, I can figure it out by context about half the time.

For specialized content, it can be harder. For instance, I was recently reading a Maurice Leblanc book and the context was an early 20th century transatlantic steamer. I had no clue on the nautical terms or contemporary travel terms of the era.

For older material, such as 19th century literature and before, I struggle. What’s characteristically hard is the long, complex sentences.

I wonder if there’s an interesting dividing line in content between the era before word processors and the era after. English, perhaps as a result of being a global language in which there are so many second-language consumers, puts so much burder on the author to communicate robust ideas in simple structures if not relatively simple vocabulary too with quietly bolstered context clues surrounding the more advanced vocabulary.

One result I’ve had from all this is that I wonder if one of the goals of high-quality modern writing is to make it as easy as possible for a breadth of readers to engage content pleasantly in a single pass.

Anyhow, I personally can read all “word processor era” French after a milliion words read.