That Difficult Zone

I’m currently at the place with my Latin Spanish learning where the “easy” content is too easy but other content seems too difficult. And these are usually Spanish learning videos and podcasts. A lot of the videos I’ve been importing show approximately 30% unknown words. I usually try to watch with English subtitles on YouTube (with Language Reactor) and then go through the text on LingQ, Lingqing all the words I don’t know. Then I will read along while listening to the video. But I feel like I get lost and have to keep stopping to figure out what’s going on. I’m sure this isn’t the best method. Should I just keep listening/reading even though I’m not getting it all? I’ve been doing more YouTube than Lingq because I’m getting frustrated, but I do trust that Lingq works because of all the success stories, even though my own effort doesn’t show that!

I also do Pimsleur on my 40ish minute dog walks every day, but a lot of that time is spent saying, “Don’t eat that! Wait! Come! Good boy! Good girl!” I’m not sure exactly how much listening I’m actually getting in. :wink:

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My experience has been that chunks of about 2-4 minutes are best. Read+ listen, go through sentence by sentence to understand fully, then read+ listen again. Be sure not to overdo it, I recommend around 50-100 lingQs per language per day. Beyond that, listening in Spanish to anything, news, podcasts, whatever you like, will help in 2 ways: 1) strengthen your ability to listen without reading, and 2) help build more associations in Spanish. Both of these help you learn the language, especially in times when you can’t pay 100% attention. You listen when you can and care for the dogs with no worries about missing something :slight_smile:

As you’ve found, part of language learning is keeping yourself interested. Maybe one week you skip LingQ and just binge a show. Don’t worry about what you understand or not, it will unquestionably help you. I’ve found that using too many tools hurts more than it helps. Language is built in to you, you just need a little help unlocking a new one for yourself.


I’d probably try to get smaller chunks of material. Instead of a 10-min podcast, I’d cut it in half and then import to LingQ. And if you’re getting frustrated after listening first, why not to try reading and LingQing first. You’ll get rid of frustration, while gradually acquire experience and vocab. I used to do this scheme:

  1. Reading and LingQing (mostly sentence by stentence mode, but not always)
  2. Reading along with listening. (sometimes rewinding 5 sec back to the phrase with a particular LingQ)
  3. Listening without reading.
  4. Listening many times throughout the day, sometimes actively, sometimes no so.

When you listen first and get frustrated, you’re playing against yourself. I found that “guessing” in Language learning almost entirely a waste of time. In other words, if you don’t know, you don’t know. Additional exposure to a term, a piece of a podcast, a translation or whatever, works always better than guessing, and leaves you with more energy, enthusiasm and insterest to go on with your learning.
Cutting down the size of materials also helps avoiding frustration.

Absolutely, downright destructive. It definitely made it harder to learn Hebrew.


You’re absolutely right in that I need to get smaller chunks of material. When my lessons are too long I get overwhelmed with the amount of new words that need my attention (LingQing, marking as known) and then I just want to go find something less overwhelming. Thanks for your tips. I’m excited about language learning but just need to find my rhythm!

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This is excellent advice. Thank you!

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