So, according to Steve, there is no best way?

I was watching a few of Steve Kaufman’s videos on the best way to learn a language. The message I got was there is no best way. Do what feels right to you. Is this correct?

Hi, GreenGuy33!

Yes, I agree.
When it comes to developing practical skills in general and learning / acquiring languages in particular, there´s no best way that works for everyone. As a rule, all approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, you need to find the personal mix of strategies that works for you.

For example my personal mix is:

  • massive immersion with or without AudioReaders
  • SRS as a supplement
  • deliberate practice activities, i.e. speaking and writing
    Depending on the “distance” from my L1 / L2s to my target language, I might also throw in some other approaches (“grammar light” methods à la Michel Thomas, pronunciation exercises, etc.).
    But, this varies according to time constraints, goals, and language level (beginner, IM or ADV).

On the other hand, we know some strategies that don’t work very well for second language acquisition:

  • cramming compared to spaced repetition / active recall
  • not establishing learning habits 
  • explicit grammar study (in the traditional sense)
  • aimless practice compared to deliberate practice


Or, if you prefer a more metaphorical answer:
Many roads lead to Rome, some even lead to Istanbul (Constantinople).
But there are also roads that simply lead to nowhere :slight_smile:

Have a nice day


Thank you!

1 Like

I don’t see how anyone can get anything but ‘the best way is to listen to and read compelling content’ from any of Steve’s videos.

I agree with PeterBormann. There just isn’t a way that works best for everyone.
All in all, I guess most people here agree that comprehensible input is the way to go . What you listen to/read/watch and how much of each, is up to you.

I don’t have figures, but I would guess that most people who start to learn a language give up at some point. Doing what feels best to you, as long as you keep going, I think is the way to go.

Personal example: I’m currently reading French books. I’ve been reading strictly fantasy books for the past 250 days or so. Percentage unknown words is around 3% per text. Sometimes I think I should really switch it up and change the theme.
Whenever I do, however, I end up reading a whole lot less simply because I’m less motivated, or I have a harder time concentrating because of lack of interest. So it still is the best option for me to continue reading fantasy stories as in the end I learn more doing it this way. (I force myself to listen to just a little bit of podcasts and the news to get some balance, but for the most part I figured this works best for me)


Well…I think Steve would say the best way is through reading and listening, at least in terms of acquiring vocabulary and learning the structure (and grammar) and understanding the sounds of the language. But…to azarya’s point, and I’m sure Steve would agree…the learner needs to do things that they enjoy to keep at it. Language learning is a long process. If the learner hates reading and listening, but loves doing Anki, then that’s the best for them. Although, I suspect anyone who hates to read is likely not going to make it very far in language learning, or at the very least they will have a much more difficult time.

There is also the aspect of speaking if one wants to be able to do that that is outside of reading and listening, but those activities are still extremely beneficial to speaking.


I’m surprised. Steve should know that the best way to learn a language is to be born to a noble and rich family within your target language community.
Or atleast he could say that LingQ is the best way. And that seems only logical considering the numbers on the membership page.

Sounds like something “Steve - the Language Mandalorian” would say:
“LingQ is the way!” :slight_smile:

However, the Yoda quote "Your path you must decide.” is probably more realistic
when it comes to the development of practical skills.


But beware of the Dark Side. Anger, Fear, Aggression; the Dark Side of the Force they are!

Aggression looks out of place there though.

The best way is combining two or three of the best ways for maximum effect.

The other best way is doing it the wrong way and just sticking to it no matter what, as even the worst way will teach you a language if you engage with it regularly.