Qauntity Vs Quality

After now almost a decade of on/off language learning, I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that quantity (so long as we’re making at least some ‘effort’ to understand) is all that matters.

The deeper one gets into a language the more you realise just how much there is to learn. If we want to reach the highest levels, I don’t think we have the luxury to spend much (if any) of that time trying to nail down, well, anything really, including vocabulary. After enough time, grammar just comes naturally, I’m absolutely convinced of that.

I realised recently that I have no idea how I know 95%+ of the words I know.

Conclusion: Just doing stuff in the language is all that’s needed, briefly looking up meanings, when absolutely necessary, and continuing on. The more you bathe in it, the more that comes. It takes as long as it takes, and it’s likely that, through exposure, we all learn at roughly the same rate.

This isn’t to say that you can’t intensely, deliberately ‘study’ - if that’s what takes your fancy - but the more you get exposed, the more you realise that all of that kind of stuff doesn’t really have much of an impact (if any) on the big picture.

I thought this might make a good discussion.

Have any of you come to a similar conclusion?


Had a similar debate with myself and thought that:
-Quantity of words and encounterments with words matter for future efficiency
-Quality of listening matters for longer retention and better recognition of future conversations and listening content.


Quantity of time spent with the language.
I think there is an interesting point though: you need to do a minimum every day or else you forget.
So it’s more than just quantity on its own.
It’s quantity plus a minimum maintenance level daily below which you dare not drop.


Yeah, absolutely. At the end of the day, I believe we will never get to understanding of what is happening between the two points that are learning and knowing(or being able to). This is almost the only solid fact about learning—we expose ourselves and, somehow, we learn. Like artificial neural networks have those 2 or more filters between input and output, that are something like checksums, but they carry no sense even for the developers, but are unique each time and able to produce results.
Data set matters, though :slight_smile: This gray jelly thing works statistically, it needs to encounter more often what is right (and evolutionary promosing for survival, so emotions also matter), than what is wrong, to be able to produce or predict what is more likely right.

Quantity matters but also a variety of such quantities play a main role as well. I mean just listening to 100 audiobooks will not prepare you to understand native speakers in real conversations. At some point, you need to listen to podcasts, real conversations, radio broadcasts, etc.

Languages like German which have a different word order system and different connectors take different conjugated verb positions in a sentence, at some point you need to open a grammar book and simply read through what is there to notice. It will simply improve your absorption rate from reading and listening.

Someone has already figured it out for you in a grammar book but you have to pick the best of the best to derive benefits from it. Do research a lot when it comes to buying a good grammar book.

Massive input plays a role but when it comes to grammar structures not all languages are the same so you need to change your language learning strategy a little bit and see if a little bit of grammar study improves your language absorption rate.

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Yes, I’ve thought the same thing. There’s definitely a point where, if left too long, you start forgetting. I feel like you can bring it back quite quickly though, so long as it hasn’t been years. Also, there’s like a tipping point where if you get enough input each day (quantity), things start to stick much more effectively. I feel like we need that level of quantity to get the snowball rolling at a good pace.


Really? OK, that’s interesting. I have thought that maybe quality, if it is important, is most important between A1 and early B1, where you’re tying to get a foothold, but once your feet are truly wet, and you can understand most of the basics, then it’s just a case of getting the volume in. Again though, I’m not 100% convinced that’s even necessary. One thing it does do is make it less likely that you’ll quit during those early stages because you’re not feeling about in the dark quite as much.