Hello all of the forum. I have recently realized that, at least for me, the words read statistic is more important than any of the other statistics on LingQ. Sure, the known words looks cool and obviously you want the number to be high, but in reality I think it is the words read that sets the beginners apart from the proficient.
In my opinion, the ranking of the importance of the statistics goes like this: 1. Words read, 2. LingQs created, 3. Hours listened, 4. Known words, 5. LingQs learned, 6. Hours of speaking, 7. Words of writing.
Of course I believe all of these statistics/skills or whatever you want to call them are important to total fluency/proficiency in a foreign language, but in reality the first three far outshine the rest. This is because (as Steve has said himself many times) exposure to the language and the ability to notice are required to achieve fluency. And based on my experience with Spanish, this is definitely the case. In Spanish I have a little over 250,000 words read (on LingQ, however this number is not much higher otherwise, maybe 290,000) and about 12000 LingQs and 160 hours of listening. At this point I’ve been studying Spanish for over a year and still do not consider myself even close to fluent. Hell, I even lived in Spain for a month with a Spanish host family this summer! Even still, I have a long way to go.
Now what do you mean Parker? You’re almost Advanced 1 by LingQ standards, you lived in Spain, you speak a lot, and you seem to be pretty good at the language! How can you not consider yourself anywhere near fluent? Well the answer to this question, I think, all falls in these three evil little statistics. The ones not many people check. My belief at this point in my language career is that the “fluency point” is at about 1,000,000 words read in the language and about 750-1000 hours of listening. Now I’m not saying you won’t be pretty damn good at the language before this point, but I am saying that in my personal opinion I think this is the point where you’ll look back and say, “wow, I really sucked back then. I didn’t understand anything,” with a grin on your face because you realize how much progress you’ve made since you couldn’t understand the basics.
So pretty much to summarize my message, if you are someone who is at a current plateau in their language or are just beginning a new one, my biggest recommendation is to expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Total at home immersion works great at any level, buying some paperbacks for pleasure reading is great at the higher levels. Just make an effort to up your exposure and I promise you’ll notice improvement.
How am I going to do this for my languages? Well, I am setting myself a few goals. I have four foreign languages that I would like to learn to different levels in the next 7-10 months. For Spanish I am looking for as close to fluency as I can get, so my goal is 1,000,000 words read and 1000 hours listened by September 2017. I just recently started French, and since it is extremely easy at this point since I already have tons of Spanish vocabulary, I am planning on reading 500,000 words of French by June 2017 and 1,000,000 by September, and around 750 hours by the end of it all. Now, I am also learning Russian (not very intensely right now, but I hope to change that), so my goal is to read 500,000 words by June 2017 of Russian and listen to about 250-500 hours of Russian content for when I (hopefully) travel to Russia this summer on a high school summer exchange program. And finally, I’d like to learn a little Chinese just so I can understand my friend when she speaks it to me, so my goal is 100,000 words of pinyin read by June 2017 and about 50 hours of listening. So, wow. This is going to be a busy 7 months ahead of me, reading about 10-15,000 words a day and listening to languages whenever I possibly can (hopefully about 5 hours a day total, but that will be a challenge). Well, anyway, wish me luck and I wish you all luck in your language learning endeavors in the future, and I hope you see major improvements with this non-professional advice! Happy language learning!