Optimal study per sessions per day?

I’m retired and I’m studying French. I can set my hours. Personally I find three sessions per day, 1-2 hours per session keeps me progressing without burnout.

If my job or schooling required it, I could do more, but that’s not my situation so I don’t.

Are there studies on this? What are your experiences?


I never felt anything close to burn out even if spent 6-8 hours every day. 5-6 hours of language exposure is pretty intense and within a year or so you will see rapid progress.
The only thing I will watch out for is lack of physical activity. I will keep aside an hour or so outdoors to get my body moving and get some fresh air in.
Language learning is not a rat race so enjoy the process as well.
Your approach sounds pretty neat without frying your brain. Breaks are a welcome rest to rejuvinate yourself and focus on your next session.


@asad100101 If I could do that I would speak 10 languages at C2 level right now. :grin:
Probably I’m very good on optimising my 15’ a day. :upside_down_face:


It is perfect. Just optimise your time step by step so you can see progress and result. It is not only the quantity of the time spent but the quality of it that could make a real difference.


Not aware of any studies. I think people are too varied for there to be an “optimal”. I think there are too many factors:

  1. lifestyle - how much time CAN they devote. Do they have other hobbies, family, etc.
  2. Motivation - Perhaps they are gung ho to learn as quickly as they can and willing to devote hours. Whereas another may only feel the motivation to work on it a half hour, an hour, or less!
  3. Do they have a pressing need to learn (moving to a new country, new job that requires it)

I’m sure tons of other factors. So what might be best for one person is certainly not the best for others. If I’m not motivated…working on something for hours will not necessarily increase my knowledge and may lead to burn out/quitting…whereas a smaller amount of time might work best and more importantly be sustainable for days on end.


In my opinion, you must come to Germany. Immersion in your homecountry is not the same as immersion in your target country. You have so much access to interesting content through public libraries (In Germany public libraries are like luxurious book shops, you will find everything under the sun). The fact that you hear the language at shops , on trains and be surrounded by natives. It really motivates you to learn the language and there are opportunities to use the language. Time spent exposing yourself to the language does not feel like you are spending it. It is like you are expriencing the language.

Your approach is the right way to learn the language by being in your target country. You should think about it.

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No doubt.

However, I’m wondering if there are general rules of thumb for this situation or studies from other fields which might bear upon my question.

Certainly there is advice for college students on the length of study sessions and breaks between. One could study six hours straight or break it up into three two-hour sessions. Usually the latter strategy is recommended.

I am also wondering what specific approaches commenters here use and with what results.


I definitely agree with you. That was the plan from the beginning, lots of time ago. But life went to a different direction. Now I’m a bit stuck but who knows, life is unpredictable. :crossed_fingers:t2:

I have not and will not track my time on LingQ. I just do the lessons throughout the day ending with whatever I need to for probably 1 1/2 hours before sleep at night. I find that at least two of what I call the standard or main lessons in Tagalog is good. There are sixty of those so done within a month. Then there are 192 other stories or word lists for Beginner 2. I do at least two but normally more.
When getting close to finishing what I can see of Beginner 2 I will have to ask LingQ staff if there are other basic lessons or courses I am missing. I wish there was a comprehensive list to view and click from to make sure I have covered everything before going to Intermediate.

After taking a break from colleges and classes for eight years, I went back to school to finish. One of several strategies was studying for 20 minutes then a five minute break then back to studying and so on. That break allows the brain to store information packed in short term memory. This was one factor that allowed me to get all A’s with almost no studying the day prior to or on the day of tests.

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Yes. That’s recommended these days as the Pomodoro Technique:

It makes sense to me and it’s the sort of thing I’m pondering in this topic, though I’m not sure Pomodoro has any real scientific backing.

Still, my own experience is that there is a difference between studying for hours straight versus breaking the time up into smaller chunks.

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The pomodoro technique is actually not one I would recommend for language learning… assuming, that is, that the learner is learning for fun.

I do use the pomodoro technique for certain studies, such as courses for work that I don’t particularly want to do, but kind of have to to remain employed. I don’t enjoy them, and they’re not how I would choose to spend my time given the choice. But the course needs studied and it needs passed with good results. So the pomodoro technique can provide a sort of carrot to get me started, e.g. I can listen to five or ten minutes of some glorious heavy metal music if I just study for 20- 30 minutes.

But for a topic I’m studying for fun? For a topic that I genuinely enjoy and as a result of that enjoyment it’s possible for me to end up in a sort of ‘flow’ state (I can start studying and not lift my head for three or four hours, not realising I’ve been at it for so long) that buzzer after 20 minutes would completely ruin my study session.

So for something I don’t really want to do, but for whatever reason have to, the buzzer is the reward for the study. For fun things, like language learning is for me, the buzzer is just a major distraction.

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I guess do what you like to do. I don’t personally set aside specific time slots because then it just starts to feel too much like work/study. If there’s something I can do in my TL instead of my native language, I do that. It was different during the first few months as I wasn’t strong enough in the language to just choose to do stuff in it.



I’m all for people doing what they want to do and doing what works for them. I certainly intend to.

I’m just curious what that looks like for other people plus any research anyone might care to share.

I use Pomodoro for kickstarting annoying tasks that I might otherwise put off.

For French I stick with three main sessions 1-2hrs long. During the day I dip into vocab lists and grammar flashcards. Before bedtime I try to fit in a pronunciation YouTube.

It does seem to me obvious and natural to divide the work into sessions with breaks in between. But what the optimal arrangement might be and how it might vary across individuals, I don’t claim to know.

Yeah, I just don’t treat my TL like ‘work.’ To me, language is more like breathing, it’s just something you do. It’s a mindset really. Separating your everyday life from language isn’t optimal, IMO. To eventually get to a really high level, at some point, you’ll need to live your life in it anyway. As I said, though, it’s different during the initial period.


I’ve also wondered…

If one studied one hour per day for a year compared to two hours per day for six months, the time spent would be the same, but would the amount learned be the same?

My intuition is that one would learn more on the two hours per day for six months schedule,

@jt23 I don’t think so because there is always an equation that we don’t take in consideration and it is not easy to measure: our time of metabolization. Which part of the process of learning.

Our mind learns and rest, learns and rest. It is like going to the gym. Our body needs to rest and muscle will grow when we rest not when we make the effort.
With our conscious mind we decide to work out but then we let to our body and unconscious mechanisms to do the rest of the job.
Our mind will produce the right neurons step by step we activate the learning process and we don’t have any “conscious” idea on how it works. Wrongly we have to “force” things having the illusion that it is going to be more productive. It doesn’t.

So, the intuition you have it is not applicable to everybody. One person could study 15’ a day and being super focused and could obtain more results than others doing 2 hours a day. There are too many variables to consider.

We have to take in consideration, in these equations, the need and time of our physical mind to grow new capacities, the focus capacity, the time to metabolization, the environment we operate, the type of stress, illness, job and other things we are doing at the same time, and probably many more things.

Best thing it should be to learn how we personally work, start a conversation between conscious and unconscious mind, and constantly improve our mental and physical training.

It might be easier to understand for one person that it’ll take time to grow biceps right? Why people don’t realise that for increasing listening capacity, for example, our mind needs to produce new cells that will transform our ears in order to absorb and convert new vibrations?
It doesn’t matter that you listen to a language 8 hours a day if your ears don’t have the cells that will move the membranes in a different way, and this is just a tiny example.

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@jt23 Regarding the Pomodoro Technique, this is a fun video for those interested:


Everyone is raising valid points about lifestyle, learning techniques, motivation etc. I think those are all very important elements contributing to how much and how intensely you can study.

What we don’t talk about enough is natural capacity got language learning. And by that I don’t mean raw intelligence. While IQ helps, some minds are just better suited to taking in language, and those minds are going to receive less burnout for a given amount of input.

There is plenty of academic material on this, and it’s embraced by the world’s military and intelligence agencies. When I joined the military, I was put through a language capability test. Essentially it used elements of a fictional language to test my ability to learn, understand and recall the various elements of a language in a short period of time. For example, I would be taught a few words and some basic verb conjugation, and would then be presented a sentence and have to identify the subject and object without being taught where they sit in a sentence. Based on our scores, we would be allowed to learn some languages but not others - not because of an inability to learn them, but an inability to learn at the speed the military requires.

What am I getting at here? That while everyone can learn a language, for some it is far more cognitively loading than for others. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, just be aware that while Steve and others might be able to immerse 16 hours a day, for others 30min a day may be equally taxing cognitively. So get comfortable with your limits and don’t compare yourself to how others are learning!

Hope that helps some of you looking at the hours being discussed here and feeling a bit of despair.


I agree with this, however, we could also say that it depends on the methodology and this is why, from my point of view, it is so difficult to standardise it.
Which means that today, for me it could be very taxing doing 15’ per day but if I really really would and need, I could probably change this to hours a day by changing and tweaking any methodology to adapt it to my brain’s way of learning.
From a military point of view, they have their standard of teachings, so you are correct on saying about the speed they require and that they don’t want to waste time with others that don’t have already a “predisposition”. However, their predisposition request in based and biased on the way they think about learning languages and the methods they have. Which means that if they had other parameters and knowledge on how we learn, it wouldn’t really make any difference.

The difficult here, for each one of us, it is to adapt, change, learn how our brain performs amongst other things, and create our own personalise way of learning/performing.