Thoughts from a complete newbie

Hi amazing people of the Lingq community.

Firstly, I should introduce myself. My name is Kevin. I am from Great Britain.

I have no real history in learning foreign languages other than failing French at school. More recently I have a 175 day streak in spotting “yo como manzanas”. If anyone asks anything other than that… well I am lost :slight_smile:

I started looking for other options and came across this site.

My first mistake was going through lessons as a freebie user. On completion it would increase my known word count, despite the fact that I really know very little in the way of Spanish words.

In order to “resolve” my issue, I paid up and started going back through the lessons I had completed and moving as many words as possible to yellow lingq’s. Needless to say, I blasted through my casual target of 13 lingq’s a day :smiley:

I remain sceptical as to whether any of these new words will lodge themselves in my brain. At least I can hope to have a rough idea as to what the stories are about.

It is still better than repeating stories about the consumption of apples! :slight_smile:

Now to the questions:

Were any of you complete novices in a language before you came to Lingq?
Does the method of immersion work?

My plan is just to find small pieces of text every day, make sure all are lingq’ed (hence the reason why small bits of text is better), and then do a review.

Eventually I should get to a point where words are already lingqed and thats when I know I can move up a level.

See you in the forums.



Hi Kevin,
Welcome to LingQ.

Whilst I wasn’t a novice in German before coming here I have recently started as a complete beginner in Swedish. By complete beginner I mean I didn’t even know personal pronouns. It is a very different feeling starting a language from scratch as it has been more than a decade since starting German in school and that was in a classroom setting.

With Swedish I’ve found myself having to lingq my way through a mini-story, listen to it several times, then move to the next story at which point words like “I, you, are, is” start to look familiar. After a few lessons I then go back to the beginning and reread and listen to those few lessons again to reacquaint myself with the words in those lessons. The most common words are starting to ingrain themselves with exposure, although some words stick faster than others. It is slow going but I’m not exactly drilling vocab for several hours a day in Swedish while I am mostly focussing on the German (which I do focus on several hours a day).

I think the main way to get words to stick in any language is by encountering them often and in different contexts, which you can do with extensive reading, so while it is a slow process at first it is one that you kind of just have to trust. So far it has worked pretty well for me in German and I am hoping that it will be the same in Swedish.

I cannot say I’ve ever done any immersion and therefore cannot really answer your question there I’m afraid.

One bit of lingq advice I will give you though that I have learned from experience is that if you are seeing a word several times in one lesson, or in several different lessons in one day/short space of time, then don’t make it more known each time you see it. If you lingq a new word and then you see it another 5 times in the next 10 minutes then chances are you will remember the meaning each of those times and be tempted to think “yeah I know this word”, but if you were to see it the next day you wouldn’t remember what it was. It can be a little depressing if you have to make previously known words unknown again, so to avoid that and to keep a slightly more accurate known word count it is better not to rush through from 0 to known all in one day unless it is something exceedingly obvious like a cognate.

All the best


My best advice to you (which has honestly taken me the best part of a decade to realise) is not to get overly concerned about words that won’t stick, or even about any words sticking. Although vocab is essential in building your ability in a language, it comes when it comes and there’s really no forcing it, no matter how much you’d like to. Just trust that the more exposure you get the more you’ll progress. Even if you can’t see the progress, so long as you’re getting exposure, it’s happening.

Our brains can’t help but learn, and, with languages at least, the majority of that “learning” is done subconsciously. It happens very slowly, and it’s hard to trust that it’s happening at times (most of the time actually, haha), but periodically you’ll notice a sudden leap forward in ease of comprehension, sometimes a big one that creeps up on you out of nowhere, others where you notice that you understood a single “complicated” sentence that you know you wouldn’t have only a month before.

Language learning is almost like a faith. If you haven’t done it before, it’s hard to believe you’ll get there. I’ve progressed enough by this point that I know I’ll get there if I stay on task, which is something I very much doubted during the first few months/years.

So don’t (try not to because you will) worry/stress about anything other than putting in the hours and staying engaged. That’s really all that’s needed.

Good luck (but you shouldn’t need it).


Thank you both for your thoughts.

It is really good to see what it is like for people further down the path.

I will combine both your strategies with reference to not putting words to known too quickly and also chilling and just going with the word flow.

Hopefully, in a years time, I can add some advice for the next newbie.

  1. I would consider myself a novice when I first came to LingQ. I was not a total beginner…I probably was around an A1-ish level (through Memrise).

  2. Immersion works…but I’m guessing you are specifically asking about LingQ and “input based” approach? Yes, LingQ works as would any input based approach if you keep at it.

I think what you describe sounds like a good approach, although I don’t know what you mean by “review”. LingQ SRS “review”? Or re-reading the short lessons you are creating?

You will learn the words. The other posters have given some great advice and experience. The more you are exposed to the words, they will start to stick.

One thing I would suggest that I don’t think either mentioned is that I would not be obsessed about learning every single word in a lesson before moving on. Perhaps repeat the lesson a few times, but move on to the next lesson. Perhaps come back to that one a day later, or a few days later. The reason I say move on, is that there will be some words that you’ll have difficulty getting to stick. You will slow progress if you belabor over these. Some will take many views to stick…you’ll see these words again and again so don’t worry about not seeing them again. There will be many more words that WILL stick, and stick quite quickly.

I would also say, if you are repeating lessons, also move on after a few repeats. I think it may be better to visit words in different contexts.

I’ll take an opposite viewpoint regarding when you set a word to known. I would debate this with myself a lot…do I need to know it to the point of where I think it could USE it (as in output) or only when I read it and I know it. Or perhaps the speed with which I can think of the meaning. Over time, I’ve just decided it’s way easier and efficient to mark the word known when you know its meaning in the particular context you just read. If tomorrow I don’t remember it, I simply set it back to #1 or #2. It doesn’t bother me one bit to set it back. You will “know” words in the immediate future, but you will forget many of them over time. I suspect of the 19,000 that I “know” now…probably there are hundreds that I don’t know currently. I don’t care. If I come across them and don’t know them. I’ll set them back.

And again, yes, this process works. It’s quite shocking when you have a source (like a magazine, or a newspaper (online or otherwise), or a book) where you struggle with it at your level. When you revisit this source and you find yourself being able to read more and more of it without the aid of LingQ or an online translator, it is quite satisfying. You might not feel like day to day you are progressing, but it’s at these other moments where you really see the progress you’ve made. You just have to be patient and keep plugging away.


this is spot on. I’ve had a similar experience and I think the reason why we worry about forgetting is because we don’t often learn things subconsciously (or at least aren’t aware of it haha). We are used to school and teachers and exams which are heavily conscious memory based. This fools us into thinking that what we can consciously remember is what we know, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes I feel that I don’t know any of my languages that I’m studying, but then when I read something or listen to a conversation the comprehension just seems to come out of nowhere.

When I used to do flashcards years ago, the feeling of letting the words slip away after a few days of skipping my reviews used to bother me. Then I started to view it as a grooming process that was strengthened each time I forgot and had to re-remember. With reading I don’t feel this though. I never re-read lessons (with the exception of some arabic lessons since LingQ doesn’t have much beginner material) and I don’t review vocab or flashcards. I just keep marching forward and it all just comes together. It can be hard for some people who are used to “knowing everything before moving on” but with learning language through reading, I think it’s best to suppress the inner voice telling you to constantly review. Eventually this way becomes the new normal.


“My first mistake was going through lessons as a freebie user. On completion it would increase my known word count, despite the fact that I really know very little in the way of Spanish words.”

It’s not your mistake but one poor design decision that has been shocking beginners for years.
Whenever I LingQ on a computer I don’t own the first thing I do is toggle ‘paging moves to known’ off. And I press ‘finish lesson’ when I have created LingQs for or ignored every blue word in the lesson, not earlier. The settings are stored in cookies btw so please be careful with erasing all your cookies.

But overall the LingQ method works well for me, it’s fun, it’s motivating…

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I’m in a similar position to you - I’m from the UK and am a total newbie - this is my first week - I have run through 50 mini-stories - I begin by stepping through word by word looking up the meaning and playing the audio until I reach the end then go back and read along with the proper audio playing to really get my ear in for the words - I then go back a try to listen to just the audio, sometimes not looking at the computer or just not clicking to the next page staying a page behind - as soon as I hear a phrase or word i don’t get i pause the audio and find that word and look at the meaning - i dont flash card as I would rather spend that time just replaying the audio and trying to pick out the meanings - my goal is to be able to understand spoken full speed Spanish rather than speak it at this early stage - i may go to spain next winter so plan to not sweat it trying to learn to speak it at the moment but maybe change it up after the summer-

I’m finding that after maybe 3 or 4 runs at a story that way despite having tons of yellow words i simply move on to the next story - It’s pretty cool how they overlap so well with the use of the same words - so blasting through 3 stories and not knowing all the words is keeping me happy and interested. I feel like I’m not learning and am not aware of the words sticking but after a week I can now listen to that first story audio-only and follow it no problem and answer the questions - so something is happening!

I found an option to turn off the automatic turning of the blue words to known when you go to the next page in the little cog settings top right of the page and find this the best way for me at this stage as there is a good 25-40% unknown words for me -

Before i started this Lingq thing i had done an Audible Spanish course and used Drops a little - neither were as effective at making words stick as this website and they were a slog- I’m finding this all very engaging and have no problem putting in the hours.

So a week into Spanish and I feel i don’t know anything at the moment and then look and see i have learnt about 50 odd words a day and can understand spoken audio files … it’s weird how we don’t realise we are learning… if you have not watched it then I can recommend La Casa de Papel on netflix, i use that as my little treat in the evenings and have now brought in the transcript for episode one into my lessons and am working my way through that as it has some cool street talk type speech in that show.

oh as to when I turn a word to known - I only do this when I can hear it in the audio without looking at the text and understand the meaning. Once I can hear it and understand it without any visual help only then do I change it to status 4 - as I say my goal is to be able to hear and understand spainish - if it was only to be able to read it I would change them a lot earlier but I feel that would be just kidding myself.

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Hi Eric,

19,000 is a lot of words! It is nice to see so many different ways and methods of Lingq’ing.

I am not going through the same lesson multiple times (apart from when I was hunting down those known words). Generally I just hit the “continue to the next lesson” until I know I have hit my Ling’q target.

I can totally understand the need to find interesting material eventually.

It is really nice to hear that you’re doing well on the courses. You pointed out one thing that I didn’t think of. I’ll find a reference material so I can return back to it to see how far (or not) I have come.

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It is good to know that it not just me who thought it was a weird default.

I have however seen a video where they recommend ensuring “paging to known” is kept on as a time saver. However, I think this is only relevant if you are already good in a language and the words you know outnumber the ones you don’t.

I shall be careful when it comes to cookies. The whole web is cookiefied, I think a lot of sites rely on them.

Thanks for the welcome!

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Hey aronald,

I am really interested in subconcious v conciously forcing your brain to remember words.

I really haven’t gone deep down the physical flashcard route because a) I am lazy and b) I make spelling mistakes. That can happen even in my own language :smiley:

I am guessing all the Lingq stuff really has to happen at an almost subconcious level. All I am doing really is picking blue words, seeing what they mean, then converting them (mostly) to level 1 yellow Lingq’s.

When it comes to the lesson review button at the bottom, does it move the level up if you get a word right?

I had been doing it religiously for each lesson, but with 400+ created linqs now, I wonder if that gets out of hand.

Exactly, and this is why it’s the default because the standard first-time user is thought to be in that situation. I don’t have any use for the feature because I create LingQs for everything, I don’t mark anything known blindly. But that’s up to the user’s personal taste and strategy.

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I typically make words ‘known’ if I feel I will understand them most of the time when I see them in a sentence. So as the other poster said, if you look up a word and then see it a few seconds or a few minutes later and understand it then it probably does not mean you will understand it later. Sometimes you will not understand a word and still feel like you will understand it next time, in which case it can be a good idea to move it to known. The main thing I think is not to put too much time and effort into deciding when to move words to known. That’s time and effort better spent on learning the language.

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I have 30,000 lingqs for review in Russian and I plan to make many many many more, so yes it does get out of hand. Don’t worry too much about reviewing the words. If you want to do that then it is good but if it is getting overwhelming then you can just as well skip it entirely.


“The reason I say move on, is that there will be some words that you’ll have difficulty getting to stick. You will slow progress if you belabor over these. Some will take many views to stick…you’ll see these words again and again so don’t worry about not seeing them again. There will be many more words that WILL stick, and stick quite quickly.”

I think this nails it. There is a yyyuuuge range of difficulties for words. For whatever reason, some will stick immediately and others will take a very long time to learn. You could spend a lot of time trying to learn those few very difficult words that you have encountered but think of how many easy words you could learn in that time instead if you just move on. Plus if you move on you will see those difficult words a lot if they are important words for you and at some point they will get easy.


LingQ will teach you to read if you use the reading component of it.
If you also do it like Steve Kaufman says, which is listen to all the mini-stories over and over you will gradually learn to comprehend the spoken form.
Also… Spanish is one of the easiest (if not the easiest) language for an English native to learn.
Pronunciation is relatively simple and vocabulary is pretty much shared.
All the latin-based English words you already know are pretty much all in Spanish.
One way of looking at it is much of the vocabulary of Spanish is just badly pronounced English or vice versa.
One of the dirty little secrets that you don’t learn from High School where they fail to teach you (because the method SUCKS) is that learning a language is simply just doing enough every day for a decent period of time. Roughly 500 hours is enough for a solid understanding to lodge itself in your brain. Once you have that solid understanding it takes off from there.

My recommendation is this:
For about six months, do an hour a day of lingQ reading but also repeatedly listen to all of the mini-stories when you have spare time (e.g. driving, on the train or bus or doing chores).
Also try to watch TPRS type videos on youtube at least one a day for a couple months then move up to slow spoken Spanish on youtube for about 10-20 minutes a day.

Do this ^^^^^ for six months, I bet you will discover you can understand Spanish to an extent that will blow your mind.

At that point then you will have built a solid base and then you can decide to start something like shadowing in order to learn to speak.

My creds: I did this with Spanish and French. I am a rock star in Spanish and can do pretty much what I can do in English with it. My French isn’t as good as Spanish because I stopped at six months but I can definitely understand most French youtubers. Right now I’m 7 months in on Russian using the same technique. I can understand intermediate spoken Russian youtubers.

LingQ (with listening to audio and watching videos) WORKS. You just need to stick to it for at least six months to a year every single day.


Lo mas satisfactorio es cuando ya puedes selecionnar lo que sea en Netflix y entender todo sin subtitolos sin problema.

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One thing I have noticed is that if I’m trying the “memorize” method (e.g. anki) I might not be able to recall the word actively but if I see it in a text in lingQ I still know it. Which is a wierd sensation, both “not knowing” it but still knowing it.

Another thing I noticed which is also wierd. Sometimes if I take a break of a couple weeks I come back and somehow my brain has continued knitting it together and I’ve made another step up.

It’s as if the concrete needs time to set but once it’s been started it will definitely set.

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Right. There definitely is an element of faith to it. I did French early 2021 with more or less the idea that I knew I could because I had done Spanish more than a decade earlier and I’m definitely fluent in Spanish.
It worked (trying to learn to understand French in six months).

Then I tried Russian - a “distant” language from English.
I intellectually thought that it should be similar but emotionally I was like “no way it is possible I can learn something as crazy as Russian, it’s only high-end diplomats with lots and lots of training or else PHD level big brains can do it”.
So yeah I didn’t really believe it but 7 months in, although I’m probably around half as progressed as I was at the same length as French I sometimes stop myself half-way through a phrase in a russian youtube video and go “holy crap I can understand freaking RUSSIAN how is that possible”.

Next up Mandarin. Which is allegedly impossibly difficult.
But I don’t think so.
I suspect it’s going to be easier than Russian.

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Thanks for the response. I hear these mini stories come highly recommended. I have yet to hit them properly but it is next on my list. Audio and text is my goal for each lesson (if it has it). Hopefully, eventually I will be able to pick out more words.

Streak wise, you keep at something you enjoy even after the “new shiny” has worn off. I don’t have to worry about going down a league here :smiley:

4 days in at the moment, so its really still in the “new and shiny” phase.

I will be reporting back regularly on my progress :smiley:

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