Successful Language Learners: How did you learn languages before LingQ?

For those of you who are fluent in a foreign language, how did you learn it? Did you learn any of your languages outside of LingQ, or only with this website? Was it pretty painless, or very difficult to learn the language? How long did it take you to reach fluency?


I consider French and English as my first languages even though my formal education was completed mostly in French. This means that my exposure to English at school was minimal, so I learned to speak, read, and write in English independently thanks to my living in a part of French Canada that had a significant enough English-speaking population. When I became frustrated at studying Chinese in a classroom, I looked back into my past and eventually came to understand how I learned English outside of a classroom, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read about Steve Kaufmann’s learning method and his own frustration at learning languages in a classroom.

I watched a lot of television in English, read some newspapers and short novels in English, and then I made English-speaking friends as I got older. I remember not knowing many words and phrases when reading, so I would look them up in a dictionary or I would eventually come to understand them through context as I encountered them in subsequent readings (context and repetition are essential to understanding new words and phrases!). Learning new words and phrases is a labourious process, so you have to be motivated to learn the language, otherwise it WILL BE painful.

I’d say I reached near-native fluency by the age of 15 or 16, but I still have a slight accent. But this learning method happened unconsiously and I didn’t study English every day, so it shouldn’t take you a long time to reach some fluency in your target language if you follow the LingQ method. I listened only to English-language programming and read news articles and books that interested me, but not many subjects interest me besides history, so it took a few years! And, of course, I was a kid.

So stay motivated and think positively, and the rest will fall into place!

Lots of listening and reading but very often the reading had not audio and the audio had no transcript. I tried to limit the reading to content which had word lists per chapter. This meant a lot of boring reading.

Hence LingQ…

all audio has text and vice versa,
I choose what to listen to and read,
I can look up words and save them from any texts
I have a community around to help me
I can track my progress. I especially like it when my blue words turn to gold (and white) as now in Korean.

When my blue words turn to gold again…words to LingQ by!!!

Merle Haggard…


Bluegrass group…

Another bluegrass group…

And lots more, the wonders of youtube and the Internet

Merle Haggard…


Bluegrass group…

Another bluegrass group…

Thanks for the current responses. I’m asking because my husband is thinking of starting to learn a language. He doesn’t seem interested in this site when I mention it to him constantly. Therefore, I am trying to find out other ways people have learned their language(s), which methods may have been easier / more successful.

@aybee77 - What exactly about LingQ turns your husband off? Just curious…

I suggest he buy a starter book like Colloquial. or Teach Yourself, or Assimil, and then try LingQ later. He probably does not want to be shown up when his wife is doing so well!!


First of all I should say that he has never been to this site on his own, so he is just basing his feelings on what I tell him, and perhaps his conceptions of how a language should be learned. I do know the following:

  1. He does not want to pay. He finds it hard to believe that I pay for writing corrections and conversations. I don’t think he knows that I pay for a monthly membership (I don’t think I mentioned it), I feel that would turn him off even more. However, strangely enough, he is considering Rosetta Stone, and we know how expensive that software is. I also used Rosetta Stone in a past attempt at Spanish, hated it, and told him it was basically useless.

  2. He wants more guidance with respect to how exactly to learn the language, and feels that a book or Rosetta Stone would give that to him.

He does hear me having conversations with tutors and sees that I am more confident and much improved since starting this site. From time to time he asks me to translate for him, and I can sometimes do that (i.e. he was watching the World Cup Soccer on the Univision channel and I was able to interpret some things for him, surprising given that I am not a soccer fan, nor do I know soccer vocabulary).

I have sat down with him and shown him what I do, regarding reading and listening to a lesson, making LingQs, reviewing the vocabulary via the flash cards. He sees me listening to my mp3 player all the time. He sees what I do to study. The reasons he gives for not coming on the site don’t make sense to me, so I think perhaps there is a deeper reason that he is not telling me. :slight_smile:

@ Steve

Thanks! I think I will tell him this suggestion of a starter book. I was hoping that we would start French together on LingQ, but I think it is not meant to be.

Thanks, Angela! Perhaps your husband needs some serious brainwashing. Perhaps TheLinguist book… :slight_smile:

@" …he is considering Rosetta Stone…"

tell your husband to run for his life! (and money) :slight_smile:
just kidding, but if he is seriously considering RS, he should read this thread on HTLAL forum. He would definitely get better value for money with some other courses (already mentioned here).

I’ve just looked at the website of “Rosetta Stone”. The prices are tragedy. :slight_smile:

Since today, Aybee, if I were you, I would never let my husband read this forum :wink:

@ Ilya

Lol. I did think of that (only after I posted).

I definitely am trying to convince him not to do Rosetta Stone. I tried it. It was useless. I gave it away.

Angela, if I remember correctly he bought you an iPad. Why don’t you buy him Rosetta Stone and you can both start French at the same time and then see who is further along after 3 months?

Er … interesting idea. Let me get back to you on that.

"The reasons he gives for not coming on the site don’t make sense to me, so I think perhaps there is a deeper reason that he is not telling me. :slight_smile: "

I think I may know, many years when your husband was on a business trip in China he met Steve in on of those squatting Chinese public toilets:

…after what happened he could never look at Steve the same way again…

Chris, in fact the Chinese squatting toilets I remember were a generation before the modern ones with privacy walls in your picture. In my Chinese toilet, near the Ming Tombs, the holes were all in the open, we looked like so many birds squatting on a field.

I do not remember anyone I met there. The whole thing was not conducive to conversation. I did not practice my Chinese on my neighbours there.

Obviously you blocked it all out…