Update on Chinese Progress after hitting 5000 listening hours

Wanted to make an updated post to my current progress since I have officially reached the half way mark with the goal of being I think the only member to reach 10,000 listening hours on Lingq and want to share my experiences learning one of the hardest languages as an english only speaker from 0.

This is an updated version of my first post: Tried Speaking/Italki For the first time after 1.5 years of Massive Input / Chinese Milestone / Appreciation Post

After consistently studying chinese until the 5000 listening hour mark and 200+ hours of speaking later, I found that there is a huge improvement on my overall foundation of the language in which I realize that it takes a long time to learn languages that are different from your mother tongue. Reaching this stage, I stopped using lingq for listening and transitioned to youtube for authentic content that is not importable.

Listening: During conversations with other native speakers, could confidently say that I can understand the majority of conversations and could have authentic conversations. haha!
Current listening hurdle: The only hurdle that I have encountered is when a native speaker would ask a very specific question, which tends to be because of my lack of recognition for the question or I am not familiar with it. Even sometimes, simple questions would get me but would be overcomed the 2nd time without a problem. Probably because I have never heard the question yet.
Current Approach to fixing this: Asking Italki teachers to mainly ask me questions as a start to prepare for future conversations and have a conversation from there.

Speaking: In terms of speaking, my natural flow for speaking became more smooth and swift due to the 200+ hours of speaking practice on Italki. Could confidently say that the more hours of speaking will definitely benefit in some way.
Current Hurdle: Sometimes I would say certain words that is not in the right tone and others would rely on context in comparison to my tones but would get positive feedback on the way I speak.
Current Approach to fixing this: Shadowing people that I want to mimic whenever I have time.

Overall, really proud of the current progress and would love to thank Lingq for allowing me to have this opportunity and ability to access chinese culture with native speakers.

Time Frame of Serious Chinese Mandarin Learning:
08/01/2021 - 12/08/2023

My statistics when this post is created:
Known Words: 67,347 words
Lingqs: 142600 wordds
Listening: 5004.02 hours
Speaking (shadowing): 40 hours

Specific shoutouts:
@bamboozled - A great rival/friend to improve with
@TofuMeow - Push me to current known word count
@PeterBormann - Theories
@Imani - “Every 100 hours of listening is an improvement”

Thank you to everyone that made Lingq possible and looking forward to updating this post when the next goal of 7500 hours is hit!


Incredible, you are a source of inspiration. You really showed great dedication.
My known words are 1156 now :slight_smile: (probably underestimated but not too much). It seems there is an abyss between you and me.


Awesome, congratulations. If I started Chinese now, considering my scheduling time, after 5000 hours I would definitely end up in my next life. :rofl:


Amazing as always, @chtryan! :clap:

BTW, reg. our discussion with @Michilini whether tones can be learned more or less correctly by massive exposure to a tonal language such as Mandarin, Cantonese, etc. (alone) or have
to be studied intentionally (as well).

I’d be interested to know:

  • Did you talk with your tutors about this topic?
  • (How) did they evaluate your pronunciation in Mandarin?

I think this a “fascinating” topic, but I’ve no real answer to it :slight_smile:


FYI I’ll be discussing this topic on my podcast soon with Olle Linge of the blog Hacking Chinese. Olle has conducted a lot of research into this issue and has a lot of academic experience of teaching Chinese. I regard him as something of a world authority on this specific issue.


Awesome, Michilini!
I’m really looking forward to this podcast episode.


Really well done. Did you count only active/focussed listening, or also passive listening (while shopping, in the gym, doing dishes, etc)?

What content are you listening to?
Are you able to watch Chinese dramas or movies without subs yet?


That’s true, I assumed it was “active-focused” listening but the count is quite high, so I suppose it is all included. If this is the case, it would be nice to know the difference between the two.


Thanks Fabio, keep it up man

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  1. If you’re referring to talking about the exposure or hours to the teacher, few times but not fully in a theoretical sense ahaha.
  2. They usually would give me a small face expression that something is off and I would ask what did I say that sounds off.
    Thanks Peter :slight_smile:
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Looking forward to it

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Hi! I counted both active and listening. 1 hour for my active listening while watching some conversation on youtube and the other 7+ hours for passive. Yes I counted passive while doing other stuff like listening while at work and doing chores, etc. :slight_smile:

At this rate, anything that has a conversation between two people or more in a conversation setting. I find that someone giving a solo talk in a video tends not to help me too much.

I can watch romance dramas at 90% due to different accents, speed, autotuned added if they used it. Better but not without subs yet :). Other dramas like medical, historical is mostly not gonna happen for me. I believe it’s a specialized area that you have to individual spend time watching and listening to in order to understand those types of dramas ahaha. For now, only romance dramas for me :slight_smile:


My active is sitting on my bed with a laptop and constantly translating every single word that I don’t know while listening.

For passive, I wear headphones/earbuds 8+ hours a day and would only play the audio little louder than average to get my attention most of the time. As much as it is a real challenge to never take them off. This is for my goal! :slight_smile:


@chytran Even if we know these active and passive categories are not so “precise”, it helps us to navigate the conversation.
In this case then - 1 hour active and 7 hours passive - the active hours would be 625. They will still be in my current life span then, I can cope with 1 hour listening per day starting at intermediate-advanced though.

However, what is the motivation behind the other 7+ hours? What’s your theory behind this effort?
Some sort of conditioning your brain to not have a choice and create the relative patterns to speed up your learning? Recreate a virtual immersion environment, etc.? I’m curious about it as I don’t remember haven’t read when you explained this, if you did.

Also, is it not taxing on your brain? We know that all those hours are constant split attention between what you are doing and the passive hours. However, there is no rest for your brain either. Is it not exhausting? How do you tackle this, if you do, or if you thought about it?

Btw, I find it very interesting.

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I watched a video of Matt vs Japan that he says that an active listening hour is about 1x rate for improvement and passive listening gives about 0.25x rate for improvement. If I do about 4 hours of passive is almost equivalent to an active listening hour. Everyday I’m getting about a 2.75x active listening rate. It might not be accurate but it’s still something. I don’t believe in listening to content passively unless you have already actively gone through it and translated everything and linked it to sound beforehand to have a better chance. At this point, the 7 passive listening hours is refreshing content that I have already actively listening while reading, etc. If someone solely focuses on passive listening without first actively going through it, the only benefit is adapting to speed and sound but lacks meaning and links.

At this point, it’s all habit. I do the same exact thing everyday for the last 2 years so far and tend to love routine patterns.

It’s probably taxing to my ears but not my brain ahaha!. It’s tiring but it’s only 8/16 hours that I’m awake. I have the other 8 hours to recover. It’s more about willpower the longer you go.


@chytran well, even if I don’t know about this theory-ratio improvement, it seems interesting, and at the end of the day I hope it will pay off for you.

It makes sense to go through material already done, in this case it will probably less taxing for your brain, as it will catch here and there things that you already know.

Well, you only need other 5000 hours now. :rofl:

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Hopefully to be still here 2 years later when that happens hahaha

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Mad respect bro, keep it up!

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Thank you James, will do!

Thanks for the detailed reply Chytran.

I have not kept track of my listening hours and have not updated them, but I would think it amounts to 3000 or so hours (active and passive). As you said, you get better at things you practice. In your case it is romance dramas. In my case it is health and medical podcasts or talks. Outside of that it is really tough for me.

It also shows how difficult listening is. I wonder after how many hours Chinese learners will have reached the point where they understand most if not all that is on TV without subs. I would say this would be a fairly modest goal since TV caters for everyday people (as opposed to a physics lectuture on Youtube).