When to turn LingQs into known words?

Hey language learners!

I finally got the hang of LingQ and have put it some good listening practise that I can sort of segment the sentences in my head or pull words from them and grasp the meaning which is great!

So every new lesson I open, I convert the known words into LingQs and then start listening through a load of times, should I convert the LingQs into known words simply when I understand them in the context of that specific lesson? Or should I wait for them to turn up in future lessons and if I can understand then convert them?

I’m sure there’s no one answer but be good know when other people do it :slight_smile:

Thanks so much!


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Hi Steve, when I understand a word purely due to context I usually give it a 3. I know Steve Kauffman would change these words to 4 (known). Once I see a word that I think I would understand without context I change it to 4. And when i finally understand a word without thinking and it comes very natural to me I change it to the last one. But, as you said, everyone does it differently.


I’m aiming to read a lot and I only really pause to turn a word I recognise and understand reasonably well to K / known and to turn blue words I want to learn soon yellow. This leaves me with blue words that stay in the % unknown words statistics. My known word list is optimistic and a “good day” score, but I like to keep the score. Less often, I’ll use 3 for words I nearly know in case I want to revise them. I use 2 and 4 a little. Partly this is all influenced by my macros keyboard and mouse macros so I can operate all that using very few keys.

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Thanks for the reply mate! That’s actually how I’ve been doing it since you posted it and it seems to make the most sense! Thanks again!

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I mark them as 5 as soon as I recognize them in context. I occasionally might use another level if I’m not feeling super confident about it (maybe I read the word again later in the same lesson and recognized it there, but feel I might not the following day).

I’m also very quick to set it right back to 2 if I don’t recognize it in a different context.

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You write that you open a lesson and then convert the blue words to yellow. You are actually reading the text also right?

Hey Colin, I listen through to the lesson first before converting the unknown words to LingQs to see if I can catch them. At the moment I only know most of the Hiragana and some Katakana but no Kanji at all so reading is almost impossible for me at this stage in Japanese. I’m guessing after another month or 2 I can take reading more seriously and remove the romaji translation!

Personally I don’t like turning Lingqs into known words too soon after encountering them for the first time, even if I recognize them a couple of times the next time I see them. It’s because I’ve made them into Lingqs for a reason and just because they’re in my short term memory doesn’t guarantee I’d recognize them in other texts or 2 weeks from now, them being yellow also draws more attention which helps me notice them more.

I haven’t decided when I’d turn them into known words since I’m new here and still trying things out, but I suspect a weeks from turning them into a Lingq and only if I encounter them in some context (as opposed to through a vocabulary list) and if I immediately know their meaning.

I do however play around with different levels of Lingq-ness(?) quite a bit and often mark even familiar phrases/words if for whatever reason I have trouble with them or want to notice them more, or if the word is unknown but gets noticeably easier and easier. So they still do go through that natural process of unknown → known, but mostly it’s to keep them yellow and attracting my attention but less than completely new words which will be at the first level.

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Everyone has a different policy on how they mark known words. So pick your own way and don’t worry too much about how other people mark their known words. What I will say though is that your policy may (will probably) change over time.

For instance, when I was an A0 beginner, I was very conservative. Even if I could kinda guess what the Italian word was from my knowledge of English (eg. informazione), I would still not mark it as known, because I was not confident. I also considered the word is not ‘known’ because I didn’t know how to pronounce the word. But now that I’ve spent a few hundred hours on LingQ and with Italian, I’m much more confident. I know how cognates generally work, I understand intuitively a lot of the pronounciation rules, and I can guess some words reasonably accurately. At the very start, I would LingQ every single new word I encountered. Now I’m marking many words known without having to look them up (they are usually just plural forms or conjugations of words I already know). I imagine as I gain even more confidence in the language, I will become even more liberal.

So when people say they mark a word as known if they understand the word in the current, single context, they are usually more experienced with the language, not at an A0 level.


For me it’s pretty simple, I put the word to known once I feel comfortable that I won’t need to click it again to see the definition.

That’s usually around the point that I almost don’t realise anymore that it’s a lingq and I just read the sentence without stopping to think about the meaning of a word.


Yes exactly! I’ve actually noticed my known word count go way up as I get further into the mini stories as the same words show up every story, the first 7 or so stories my word count remained the same as I was conservative with them!