Should I focus on more efficient reading method

Hi all,

I started using Lingq daily to learn spanish in January. I have accumulated ~550 hours listening and usually can reach 3+ hours listening per day.

I noticed some forum posts saying to aim for +2M words read. Despite a full 6 months on Lingq I have only reached 110,000. Words read so far. This is an area that needs attention. typically when I sit down to read for 1/2-1 hour per day I first read the page with audio then lingq the words and increase the levels of any words I remember until they end up known.

Should I instead listen to the lessons passively then solely read them without listening when I dedicate time to reading?

Or is my method sufficient. I started learning spanish itself in October 2023 and would like to reach B2/C1 in October.

In addition to Lingq I actually have a gf who is a native spanish speaker and all out text messages and in person conversations are in spanish. I can see my level increasing over time when I talk to her and texting has become pretty easy. I am happy with my progress but am always looking for ways to optimize my approach.

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What I do, and what I’ve seen others suggest as well, is reading while listening, as in you start the audio and read at the same time. As for passive listening, I just do it at every available time, independently of the time I dedicate to reading.


Yeah I basically have headphones in anytime I can listening to spanish. And sounds like i’m doing the same thing as everyone else. I guess I just need to spend more time reading and reduce my expectations to how many words I can read by October.

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Only listening is a slow way to build vocabulary, because you solely rely on context to be able to guess the definitions of unknown words. And for this you want a high level of comprehension (49 out of 50 words on average is ideal, they say). Despite having a high level of say 98% of words, sometimes it’s still almost impossible to understand the definition. For instance, there is almost no way to guess what turquoise means in following sentence: “The turquoise water glistened in the sunlight.” You might not even have any idea it’s a colour. You just know it’s a property of the water. Maybe after five or ten different sentences in different contexts, you might be able to correctly guess, but why wait that long? For this reason, I prefer to have access to a translation ready, so pretty much every sentence I hear/read is comprehensible. Like @D.lfzM, my preferred technique is reading while listening (with dual subtitles in my implementation of it) when focusing on vocabulary acquisition, as I improve my vocabulary, reading comprehension, and listening comprehension at the same time.


Maybe after five or ten different sentences in different contexts, you might be able to correctly guess, but why wait that long?

Still, that way of acquiring appears to be very effective. In fact, no amount of conscious learning will speed up that process according to Dr Krashen.

I do agree that reading along while guessing some of the words is very uncomfortable. Having the translation at one’s fingertips is a lot more comfortable. I know, because I have been doing that the past 4 years. I always had to have the translation at my fingertips. Recently, I decided to “put up” with the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing and eventually guessing. And I can tell you firsthand that reading without understanding all the words is really uncomfortable and takes a lot of getting used to.

It does empower your subconscious to start the pattern recognition processes and the (subconscious) deduction process. According to the Dr Krashen research this is the basis for acquiring language.

So in conclusion, I agree with you that reading and listening with the translations at your fingertips is easier. I just question whether it is the most effective way in the long run. And I am not sure which one is really most effective. I wish I did.

I hope all this makes some sense.


I agree that there is a point, where you want to remove the translations, as they become a crutch and you kinda become complacent to some extent. From my experience/intuitive guess, the way I kinda do it is around a B2/C1 level after I’ve built up a basic understanding enough vocabulary to move onto wanting to soldify it. So I kinda see it that there are two phases of vocabulary acquisition: (1) introduction to the vocabulary, (2) soldification of it. The first phase is much faster with access to a translation instead of waiting for the word to appear in a comprehensible context. The second phase requires high quantity of content with the word appearing in many different contexts and then high concentration/emotionality to really drill it in.

I take Stephen Krashen’s theories with a grain of salt, but I wouldn’t say it’s conscious learning necessarily. If you drill something enough times, it becomes habitual and subconscious. Conscious knowledge becomes subconscious with enough repetition.

However, in the current rendition of the method I’m using - YouTube videos with dual subtitles - you are moving so fast, listening to native speech, you don’t have time to consciously think “Ah, yes, X means Y, so it’s conjugated to this, blah blah.” It’s a quick scan of the Russian sentence, if I don’t know the word, I have a 0.5 second glance at the English sentence to get the vibe of what’s about to be said, then I listen to it. The sheer amount of content beats the language into your brain. There is simply no time to consciously do languages maths in your head. It’s like letting the language wash over you, but you actually understand nearly all of it, which isn’t the case with listening-only.

EDIT: There are several ways you can increase the comprehensibility of your listening material to a high level:

  1. Be highly selective in your material. Eg. check your LingQ stats of the transcript prior to studying it, making sure that your (New Words + lingQs)/total word count is very low.
  2. Listen to content you previously studied with the aid of a dictionary. Eg. the transcript
  3. Listen to content you already know what it’s about. Eg. the Harry Potter audiobooks, if you already have read/listened to them in another language.
  4. Re-listen to the same material multiple times.

But again, if you don’t have access to translations and/or a dictionary, when studying material, your vocabulary is likely to be increasing at a slower rate than if you do. So if you focus is increasing your vocabulary, it’s worth considering.