Personal Accountability Thread -- Goals and Commitment to fluency through practice

If this thread seems like bragging (or in the future seems like whining) please excuse that and just move on.)

Also feel free to post your own “Accountability” in here if you don’t wish to start a new thread. I don’t mind and we can share techniques while egging each other on. (Encouraging each other.)

My plan starting from January 1, 2020 (today is Jan 16th):

  1. Fluent reading in French within 3 months (by April 1st)

  2. Fluent listening to live news, most (French) TV series and movies, native French language YouTube (e.g., TedTalks) within 4.5 months. (May 15th.)

  3. Fluent speaking on general topics by 6 months with native speakers. (July 1st.)

  4. I don’t have a commitment to writing. If speaking is reasonable I’ll just use Word/Open-Office spell and grammary checking along with Google translate to clean up my mess.


Fluent reading is reading as well as the 75 percential of (American) high school students, preferable above 50 percentiles of 1st year freshmen at a major university. Somewhat subjective but I understand it pretty well, and I am already close at 1.5 months

Fluent speaking: Able to carry on a French conversation of indefinite length (30 minutes plus) comfortably and within “translating” most ideas while having almost no desire to revert to English – certainly no necessity to revert.
Also, being able to give a 5-10 minute (prepared) talk in front of a group of native French speakers while holding their attention and having them enjoy the experience.
(I am a public speaker, coach and trainer so I think this is realistice.)

What I am doing:

  1. Anki Deck (currently closing out 5000 most frequent words at 81% of “marture cards” after about 1 month.
    Also, Forever Fluent (Gabe’s) pronunciation etc. decks/app. (Update: 84% at about 2 months into it.)

I will NOT stick with these decks as they just provide ammunition or raw material for everything else.
Update: 2020-02-21 Time to find new flashcard decks, phrases and conjugations probable.

About 150-700 reviews a day. (2020-02-21 down to 200 reviews per day.)

  1. Rosetta Stone – do all 5 levels by July 1st or Sep 1st at latest. Doing about 40 minutes (3-5) drills per day which puts a Unit about 10 days and a Level at 40-45 days. I am current on Level 2, Unit 1 (half way) after a month.
    Not everyone has as high an opinion of RS as I do, but it works for me and I most use it for to do things:
    a. Improve Pronunciation (I have the difficulty cranked to max and wish it would go higher – I hold myself to “no weak” words in the visual feedback.
    b. “Think in French” by refusing to translate when I answer or select a response.
    Getting all 5 levels done by July 1st is not a certainty. CORRECTED: This thing takes time to do right and my prediction is 155 days from my current level, if I am very aggressive. Technically doable but it is right at 135 days remaining so I’m behind already. (Doing it by Sep or Oct is very reasonable with the extra 30-60 days.)

  2. Listending to audiobooks – quite a bit. Germinal is good, and now I am listening to “Sapiens – Une Breve Histoire d’Humanitie” repeatedly and reading it on LingQ.
    Update 2020-02-21: Sapiens is about 95% understandable now and I enjoy listening finally though I am only on Chapter 12 ‘officially’ I have heard most of this several times and I am trying to get through ALL of the vocabulary for the book.

Sapiens had 9300 unique ‘words’ containing more than 3 letters and not-capitalized when I extracted and loaded them to LingQ. A high percentage which were theoretically unknown (75% perhaps) so that is what ran my word count up when I passed the "J"s alphabetically. knowing almost all of them. At this point most of French is just cognates for an English speaker.

  1. Listening to various French podcasts, TedTalks, live news, and TV/films daily instead of English. (My wife and I love TV and she is studying French too.)
    My favorite so far: “Au Service de la France” (NetFlix) funny even if you don’t speak French. We’ve gone through twice with subtitles and will probably watch soon without.
    Also excellent:
    “The Chalet” (NetFlix) but be warned it is intended to be confusing even for a native speaker.
    “Une Village Francais” – only on episode 2 but this is great, except the speaking audio is too low compared to the music.
    Don’t have French subtitles for this yet.
    Harlin Coban’s “The Stranger” (NOT Camu.) has good dubbing.

  2. LingQ – supporting all of the above and goal set to 50 LingQs per day, but realistically I try to double this at least. I have only been here 7 days as of today and it will probably sound like bragging to say that today (day #7) I passed 10,000 words, 2000 LingQs (200 learned but only because I haven’t gone back to marked many of them) and 90k coins.

Update 2020-02-18: streak day #9 here 2500+ LingQs, 12000+ words.
Update 2020-02-19 streak day #10 here 2700+ LingQs, 15300+ words.
Down to about 200 Anki reviews per day since I am closing on “all mature” at 83%.
Trying to catch up Rosetta Stone even though I have added significant LingQ work.
(Seriously I am reading a ton of stuff and my biggest problem is wanting to read everything in LingQ)
Update 2020-02-21 streak day #12 finished with 20,400 words & 3700 LingQs.
I went a little crazy adding another 300 LingQ for the day.

I bought a year and I believe the ‘90 day warranty’ offer is entirely safe for LingQ.

  1. 2-3 Audio chat sessions with native French speakers per week, including a tutor lesson ever week or so.

  2. Daily “text chats” with native French speakers – how I find audio partners and helps me figure out “what I know” and can say.

  3. Begin to use French Wikipedia & Wictionaire Francais (and other web sites) for my general purpose information & definitions,; these would normally be researched in English – also learning a new programming language using a French language text.

  4. Update: 2020-02-21 Probably going to add BrainScape membership. It’s cheap and they have a lot of good flashcards. Considering buying the FrenchToDay 3 verb, pronunciation, and conversation packs.

What I need:

  1. Better pronunciation, especially from and for Reading. Unlearning and relearning things I have learned incorrectly.
  2. More “structural phrases” than raw vocabulary – most of my LingQs are now phrases rather than words.
  3. I am just below the ability to hear normal spoken French without looking at subtitles or missing a lot. With subtitles I am pretty close.
  4. Reading, I need a bit more to be “high school fluent” but it’s jumped even in the last 2 weeks.
  5. More speaking – need to seriously adopt a “conversation audio set” and work through all the levels on a daily basis.
  6. Grammer (Not my focus but I have a plan for this)

Great post! I am of the opinion that goals are super critical in language learning. In your estimation, how many hours of study time does this all equal for you each week on average?

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Thanks for the encouragement.

Goals are important, and even “playing the game” is useful to keep moving and stay focused – as long as we don’t game the systems to the point of removing the value. (Cheating at weight lifting is similar.)

How many hours per week.

There are hours and then their are ‘hours’, a lot of this is ‘borrowed time’ or rather using dead time or doing two things at once.

Proably 3-4 hours per day or 25 hours per week since it is daily.

But note, that I don’t “stop everythng else” to do it.

Maybe 2 hours per day of dedicated studying, could be a bit more now that I’ve added Lingq.
So about 15-20 hours per week.

TMI follows: I do anki while in the bathroom must of the time.

I listen to my audio books primarily at bed time or instead of taking a nap. Note that I don’t expect “sleep learning” works very well (or at all) based on the research I’ve seen but most nights I listen until I fall asleep and the audio keeps playing (I’m not counting the time I am asleep.)

If I wake up (being old that happens several times per night) then when rolling over and going back to sleep I hear the book and again on waking, and sometimes while walking around the house doing other things. It’s not terrible important that I always “concentrate” or that I “get it” when something else is more important.

When my wife and I watch TV (we like TV) we are watching 50-75% shows in French, usually with French subtitles but also with English subtitles sometimes. (Harlen Coban’s? “The Stranger” --unrelated to Camu’s book has really nice dubbed French.)

We listen when we watch TV or travel by car (though my wife mostly goes out) so that doubles the effective time. of those activities.

We watch and read most of our news in French now.

Generally we’ve avoided dubbed French since the lips don’t match the sounds but that needs rethinking if the voice over is really high quality – sometimes better pronounced than the original actors would be.

Doing more web ordinary ‘research’ in French: Begin to use French Wikipedia & Wictionaire Francais (and other web sites) for my general purpose information & definitions,; these would normally be researched in English – also learning a new programming language using a French language text.

Day #9 here, 2500 Lingqs, 12,300 words and 100k coins. Having a bit of trouble finkng Lingq candiatess since my vocabulary, counting “cognates” and “word derivations”, has largely broken through. My reading is probably already better than the “average high school student” and sometimes brief speed reading is possible (being a speed reader anyway).

Note: It was slower and much more difficult to break through to semi-fluent reading in French than previously experience in

  • Spanish: 1-3 months (semi-fluent to almost fully fluent.)
  • French 2-5 months (semi-fluent to fully fluent. Spanish is simply simpler than French.)

Oddly speed reading is almost easier to do in French for me since I have less tendency to “mentally pronounce” the words and surprisingly the blue and yellow words are frequently the key words to understanding a page – especially for non-fiction.

We’re focusing on pronunciation with YouTube phonetics and phonology again this week.

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Day #14 finished with 4700 LingQs and 23,000+ known ‘words’.

I can’t quite listen freely to French without subtitles or prepping the material first. I could almost read fluently when I started and that is improving… Biggest problem now for playing the LIngQ game (which is good for motivation) is finding enough stuff to link. I am already reading a ton of stuff and the pages are mostly white with blue that I know.

Listing to Sapiens is now almost automatic but the voice is perfectly clear and there are other advantages to that material.

One method of attacking that ‘problem’ which I am using to find books in every subject where I have existing skills or a lot of interest but had no time to read. I just burn through those books (e.g., Windows OS, Network Servuity, Commercial Diving, Psychology, anything science, etc.)

But the more advanced the reading (more scientific or more educated) the more that French and English parallel each other with cognates. The pronunciation and nuance are then the only important things to learning new words.

Last night I added a 35 minutes audio repetion drill set that is very difficult. I would take me 160 days to complete if I were to never miss doing 2 lessons (17min) per day.

We’ll see about that after a week or so to give it a fair chance.


Feb 10 Start
Feb 16 10k 7 days 7 total
Feb 21 20k +5 days 12 total
Mar 09 30k +17 days 29 total

Current totals after a 29 streak with most days 4+ times goal. About an hour per day most days.

32,383 words, 9124 Lingqs
(most links were created manually as I disabled auto early on) .

Glossika (old book/audio version) is working out very well, but the new “improved” version offers nothing of interest to me. 45 minutes per day (2 Lessons) is really helping and I am doing it while exercising so no net time expended.

My plan is going well, my speaking ability improves each week. My reading is pretty much fluent with a little bit of dictionary help. (Usually I find more mistakes in the automatic translations than they do in my own understanding.)

Hearing most fast spoken French remains a real challenge, though it is improving little by little.

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Can I ask a quick question? How long had you and your wife been studying French before you began using LingQ?

How long had you and your wife been studying French before you began using LingQ?

About 2 months. Technically we started French on Dec 1st 2019, and I began working LIngQ on Feb 10th 2020. In reality, we began studying about the last week of Dec 2019 about 2 months when I started LingQ.

She took 6-ish years of high school French finishing 50 years ago. – without ever being able to speak French. She remembers being able to read fairly well.

I took 4 years of high school French starting 55 years ago, on top of an initial 6 months self-study – serious study but without significant resources or knowledge such as we have now. (Living Language 4 vinyl record set was the sum total of my material, then ALM French 1-4 in high school.)

We both felt that French was largely lost to us, and that we never had really had any significant ability.

I estimated my prior French was “worth” about 1-year of recent High School French.

My pronounciate was largely terrible due to having been taught it incorrectly (now that I understand correct pronunciation.)

My understaning of grammar ended at gender, passé composé, and I completely misunderstood adjective agreement despite always having the best grades in school.

Also, I suspect that many of the grammars rules that we learned were taught incorrectly and that’s despite always being among the top students. (Which now baffles me a git.)

Were is of any use, I would be incredibly annoyed at the (well-meaning?) teachers and educational system who taught us so poorly, and quite often completely incorrectly in the 1960s.

So I have 2 months or more depending on your estimation.

Either way, it is impressive with how much you have progressed my friend. I think it is showing how much effort you are putting into your language study. I had studied French a while back at my university (while in graduate school). I didn’t need to learn how to speak, just read, and within about 4-5 months we were reading academic papers in our field of study. Most of what we focused our study on, was focusing on recognition of cognates (and false cognates by extension) and grammar. The more we read, the better we got. I used LingQ for much of my work, and it really helped me to do well in that course.

Currently, I am trying to focus my efforts on Chinese (Mandarin). I live in China (while not right now due to the virus), but my main focus on LingQ right now is to consistent study outside of my everyday life. I am focusing on slow and consistent, just to get into the habit of working on Chinese again everyday. Having a break from working everyday in China, and trying to add in small new habits has drastically changed my life over the last few months. I hope to match you soon on your progress. It is great to see someone so dedicated to learning a language, very motivational. Thank you.

I do believe you are putting much more time into it than I did, and I think your progress will surely surpass mine with French. Keep up the hard work my friend, and I look forward to seeing your progress and updates.

-Cody C.

Thanks for the kind words. I am probably studying 3 hours per day plus watching our recreational TV mostly in French. (Much of the 3 hours is also doing something else that I would be doing in any case.)

My study is consistent. Today is an “off day” and I’ll need to work to finish 100 LingQs.

Over the weekend I finished Level 2 of Rosetta Stone and have 3 more to go.

Chinese is much more difficult since it is much harder to reach a “pronunciation fluency”.

This is what makes Spanish so easy – learning to pronounce Spanish reasonably take only a few days. French is more difficult but with study it is largely “phonetic” after a fashion.

German and Russian are both highly phonetic so solo reading is quickly possible (with a dictionary and the first 1000-5000 words.)

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At 42 days the totals are:

  • LingQs 12,500 (297 average per day)
  • Words 38,400 (900 average per day)
    Almost 3 months of my 6 month plan have elapsed, and my reading is strong but I’m am not 100% satisfied with the level.

This past week I have been slacking off on Glossika (now at Lesson 51 of 312) and Rosetta Stone (at the start of Level 3 of 5.)

My 5000 word Anki deck is at 97.5% mature – and I really need to stop messing with it, but it’s a bit of a compulsion at this point – and learning the first 3000-5000 words really made everything else possible (in such a short time.)

My main reading & audio books are currently Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch) “Deuil Interdit”. Reading isn’t difficult with the dictionaries but hearing it before reading is still out of reach.

(I am also reading and listening to many other things but my focus is on the Bosch book.)

Speaking is pretty comfortable though it’s still quite awful other than it works and it is apparently intelligible for the most part. I am doing one lesson per week where I simple talk for almost all of the time with my tutor asking occasional questions or offering a few comments.

My wife and I have almost finished watching “Un Village Français” (all 7 seasons) in French though she needs the English subtitles so it’s pretty easy for me to cheat when listening.


You have impressive goals and know how to back them up. Keep up the good work. I have my goals as well in my blog posts.

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