When does learning snowball even without looking up words?

I remember seeing a video by Luca Lampariello where he describes the stages of language learning. At a certain intermediate/high intermediate stage he said you no longer need to rely on structured learning materials and looking words up, but can simply improve by exposure to native content (i.e. reading, watching movies etc).

I guess this is the point at where one is advanced enough to learn/reinforce new grammar and vocabulary more subconsciously by context and osmosis.

I’m curious about people’s experiences with this. At what point do you think/did you feel that you could learn new vocab and grammar (still fairly efficiently) simply by exposure/immersion to native content? And at which stage in terms of A2, B2 etc?

I’m remember Luca talking about this in a persentation I saw on YouTube, but it was quite some time ago and I don’t remember the specifics. However, I can say with certainty that throughout the “B” stages (since you chose that as a frame of reference), you will feel the learning as it “snowballs”/builds rapidly the better you get. In particular, the more you read about a subject you know well, especially when the writer is using the same words, the more pronounced this effect is.

I think the most important thing to realize is that this doesn’t take place a “certain” point. Rather, you just start noticing that the “same” words keep popping up and you start remembering them. Steve K (rightfully) says that the biggest mistake people make is staying too long with the beginner content without getting into the “authentic” native content. Depending on the difficultly of the language, in my opinion 2-3 months from total scratch can get someone into the authentic. At that point they will no longer really “need” the structured/beginner content. They should just listen and read and go back to the formal material (grammar) when they don’t understand and its something they keep noticing over and over again and they want to know why it’s doing that.

This process takes a long, long, long, long time. This is the flat part of Steve K’s “inverted hockey stick” where you make progress, lots of it, but since you know so much already, it’s not as obvious. This is benefit of the Known Word count.

Regardless, as for the time when you be TOTALLY off even the dictionary and you’re NEVER looking at a dictionary, I’d say that comes when you are consistently able to understand 98% of what you are reading or hearing. From my own experience of painstakingly counting my words, any lower percentage of comprehension and there’s not another “around” the edges to fill in the missing “blanks.”

Thanks for this post. You’re right I know about the ‘certain’ point not really being there, though somehow it’s always nice to think we can have a definable point to aim at :slight_smile: I probably started adding native content into the mix from 3 months but I don’t think it is really possible to comprehend it without learning ‘crutches’ like dictionaries and LingQ at this stage. So I guess I was talking more about when you can be TOTALLY off as you say and still be acquiring the language efficiently. 98% is similar to the figure Alexander Arguelles quotes for absorbing new vocab purely from context when reading (he says 95% I think). I think maybe it could be a little lower when reading maybe just because you have the time to reflect and re-read, and puzzle a meaning out from context…

Of course, this learning snowball doesn’t appear at the level A2, but it can be at the level B2.
For example, I son’t need to look up new words practically by reading in German, English or Polish, I understand them mostly from the context.
But I can’t reproduce the half of these words in my speech because for the speech we need active knowledge of them, not only understanding in the context.

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