https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

Do you become exhausted by language practice?

So, I just reached level 6 in German and I've found myself constantly improving. (Stuck in a rut of gendered definite articles, but that's another story.)

And I was wondering if anyone has a "limit" of how much time they can spend learning a new language per day. I have a background in psychology and English, and I'm fascinated by language learning. Is there a certain capacity for new-language-learned-per-day, after which no new vocabulary and grammar concepts can be learned.

I don't think this question applies specifically to German, but it's relevant to me so I figured I'd place it in this discussion.

I ask because I can typically only go for an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Thoughts on this?

March 15, 2016

53 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raisinnoir

It all depends on the individual. If you like a language, you may find it easy to go for hours; if not you can get tired in no time. I would suggest you concentrate on the language you most want to learn. I believe that most obstacles exist in the mind. Good luck!

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

I've found I do like learning the language, but, as I mentioned above, I few small annoyances slow me down. I'm hoping I'll pick these skills up over time with practice.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raisinnoir

If I might offer some advice, don't let the small annoyances slow you down. Skip past them and keep on going. They'll come up again and you'll have time to make corrections. And speaking just from my own experience, it's the corrections that stay with you, especially those pointed out by native speakers. Just keep on going.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrikRosen

Sound advice. I totally agree.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

Thanks! I'll push forward.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nebebelyashas

Personally, I would strongly advise to choose to study no more than 2 languages, because: 1. Linguistic multitasking is extremely bad, i.e. you won't be able to focus on your weak spots/ you will 'know' everything at a very weak level (unless you already know/can use 3+ languages at an extremely high level (C1+ according to CEFR) - it means your brain might 'accept' new info easier, however it will beyour attention that is going to get all the glory or reprehension); 2. Keeping your focus narrower allows to advance faster and further; 3. It is easier to maintain a good attention span throughout the whole learning process (we're humans after all) when you don't have over 9k things to worry about/to do; 4. It should be easier to motivate yourself to 'spare' 20+mins each day for no more than 2 languages.

I've seen many people struggling in choosing languages they want to learn, and many of them lost their motivation upon taking more than 3 language courses mainly because of their lack of proper attention to linguistic details.

So you can choose doing 3+ languages and have a rather crappy motivation to continue your linguistic endeavours, or you can focus on 1-2 languages for a good year or so and move on other languages which interest you.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

I'm no longer actively trying to learn two languages.

I tested into level 5 of Spanish because I'd learned some growing up. I tried to maintain Spanish and German for a few weeks, but found myself pulled to German. I'm focusing on that for now. Thanks for the reminder.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sunadashi

It depends a bit on how much Spanish you already have from the past. It could even be an interesting aid in learning German. I started German with Doulingo. My" first foreign language" from high school years was Spanish. At some point, I decided just to check out the Spanish tree for a lark. I tested my way through a lot of it. I focused on the German but did a tiny bit of Spanish daily. I found it interesting to switch languages. Sometimes it produced "aha moments" . At this point I have finished both trees and am focusing mainly on German while doing 1-2 Spanish exercises per day. Good luck with you German studies.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ilmarien

There are likely limits to how much you can memorize in a day. The more vocabulary I try to cram into my head, the less likely I am to retain any of it. That, along with garden variety laziness, is why I don't really try to memorize too often and go for the organic "if I see it enough times, I'll eventually learn it" approach. (Not something I recommend if you're just starting, though.)

Beyond that... yeah, endurance is a thing does need to be built up. I can read and watch way more in Spanish before getting tired than I can in French or Portuguese. If you're just getting tired of Duolingo after an hour, I think that's normal too - if you've had enough of vocabulary or grammar for the day, it might be a good time to put on some radio and work on your listening skills.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iwc2ufan

This. I rarely do marathons unless there is a new language out that I have already studied or I have studied something so similar, that it feels very easy. This happened to me when Polish (previously studied), Norwegian (similar to Swedish and Danish) and Catalan (similar to the other Latin languages) came out. The day those came out I did insane marathons, all day affairs. It was great fun. It would not be practical most of the time though.

I think endurance can build up, but there is also so much that you can learn in a day, so even though I could go on longer, there usually isn't a point in doing more than a few exercises per language per day unless we are talking review. Even then, there is only so much fruitful review one can do in a single day.

Similarity to previously studied languages makes a huge difference to me too. Even at higher levels of Catalan, I feel way more comfortable doing 3-4 lessons in a row because they will be so similar to other things I have studied, whereas I never do that with Welsh because it is so different from everything I have studied beyond some English loanwords. I know I need to go very slowly with Welsh, so I do so that my study has a point.

Taking it slow and reviewing loads really is the key to long term retention.

The endurance that is most useful is not in bombing through lessons, but being able to use the language later after Duolingo. I have the best endurance in use of Spanish and Portuguese (I am a professional translator of those to English, so I have to be able to read them all day and I can), whereas use of, say, Swedish, I will get tired trying to read that much, much, much faster. So endurance does build, but not in a big way at the levels Duolingo deals with. Once you take your German and Spanish elsewhere after finishing your trees and lots of review, that's when the big jumps in endurance come.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

I appreciate this notion of the long-term language learning. I think my problem is I want to learn it all NOW and that's what's most frustrating. But you're entirely correct that if this is something I hope to use in the future, I should focus on reviewing and solidifying my foundation.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iwc2ufan

:) I do understand wanting to do it all now. For whatever it's worth, I think it took me about 4 years to really feel good at Spanish (my first second language - this was with 2 years of high school Spanish and then 2 years of university level Spanish). I am defining 'good at' as able to converse and read easily, so the beginning of an advanced level. I was able to take that level of Spanish and go to Spain for four months with few communication problems. After that, it did speed up (especially for related languages - I think it took me about 2 years to feel quite good at Portuguese). I am much faster now, but I needed that initial slower experience of learning how I learn languages. Even being faster though, it is still a slow experience. A language is a huge, complex thing.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

I'm hoping for that organic approach you mentioned above. (Mostly in terms of the articles of gendered nouns.) But maybe I should try to memorize them independently via flash cards? I'm not sure.

Thanks for the listening skills suggestion as well! I'll try that soon.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arminia11_web_de

Flashcards!!! And it still amazes me how many dictionaries and courses do not teach nouns with their gender specification. GRRRR!

July 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TromBennyBone

I'd say the more you improve, the cooler it gets, thus making you want to spend more and more time learning the language! I wouldn't say there is any limit either, because the more time you spend learning, the more fluent you will get on that language! :D

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

I spend a little more time on German every day, so I see what you mean. I'm really committed to learning this language. It's really exciting :D

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/annqueue

Sure, there are limits, and this stuff is tiring. During my year living in Germany, there were times I'd sleep 12 hours straight just because my brain was so exhausted from keeping up with all the new language information entering it. But it's so incredibly rewarding.

Don't push yourself to the point of diminishing returns and keep it fun, and you'll stick with it.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

The diminishing returns notion resonates with me. Maybe it's better to practice twice a day instead of one long stint.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sunadashi

Agreed! At least twice or even more often. I start the morning with coffee and some German via Duolingo and maybe some music or German TV (via internet). Later in the day I'll go back to Duolingo or other German resources for short spurts as many times as "real life " allows.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iwc2ufan

This does work too. Sometimes I do one go in the morning and another one in the afternoon after work. A break is important. Whether that break is a full day or a few hours, it still gives you brain some time to absorb the new info.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cchase007

When travelling in Greece a few years ago, I was able to read things like signs and menus and could carry on a simple conversation. Doing so, however, wore me out. I believe the different alphabet compounded the effort involved in using a new language.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/otsogutxi

I have a really bad fever now. It's not cold here, so maybe it's from doing too much Duolingo:)

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lapristgens0

that's because you're learning way too much

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/otsogutxi

Well, maybe but I've had it for around a week, and I only started learning really intensely a few days ago:)

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lapristgens0

Ooooooookaaay

March 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

I won't rule it out ;)

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SodaPopp

depending on what else I am doing during the day my tolerance ranges from 20 minutes to 1.5 hours aprox.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/menyiu

I've heard that studying in twenty minute increments is ideal but I'm sure it varies greatly. I think with longer sessions the retention may dwindle due to lack of interest but as long as your mind is actively engaged then things will stick.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/alesiamarku

Well I don't think there is a limit I just startet and I really love it!!!It can effect and your desire to lern this language.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrikRosen

I think most folks that have reached a basic understanding of a language (or something else for that matter) can go on for a very long time in learning. I do not see or feel any limits there. However, of course I have a "system overload" after some time when I am active in learning. Passive learning (like having the radio on in the background) is something else. Which raises the question "what is learning and how do we do it". When I need to focus, I have limits, yes. Unless I end up in "flow", which I sometime do. In "flow" time does not matter for me. Unfortunately my "flow" only catches me in weird stuff, like tracking a words origin...

In learning boring stuff, I often fall asleep quite fast. Brain shuts down. No fun. It is often claimed that old folks learn slower than young folks. I can admit that this is true if we compare with how children learn. They soak everything up, and fast (until most of them are destroyed in the educational system). But old folks that have motivation learns just as quick or even faster. It is just trickier to find the motivation with age.

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/closethatdoor

Is it that we find it harder to motivate ourselves as we become older, or we become more selective? Or less bothered? Or that the dreadful education systems discouraged sourcing learning applications and independence? Happily I always was a misfit so as an oldie I continue prodding at the grey cells with whatever pointy sticks I choose :) Oh, and I don't say "I can't...".

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrikRosen

I think all four reasons are valid... :D

Some few are able to keep their souls whilst marching through the educational system, lucky you! :) I was a sort of misfit too, thank god. It was somewhat difficult in school, but not with learning. And as with many things, what used to be tough is now an advantage.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/closethatdoor

I do agree! Challenges create. Spotted this this morning - such a coincidence or does the psychic side go off exploring - in an article and loved it: "Stay curious".

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrikRosen

"Curiosity killed the cat - but I´d rather be dead than not check it out. "

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/closethatdoor

Definitely!

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WitheredGermany

I can with most sincerity state that I find it more difficult to be engaged in learning a language when I honestly really don't... care any more. Apathy, you could say. Being 19-year-old and learning really basic German during my last few months of school is just insulting. Okay. Maybe not that insulting.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/closethatdoor

But it's giving you a skill! There's only you stopping yourself from upping the level. If you're bored in class try constructing phrases, sentences, conjugations, etc. in your head. Or try helping your classmates. That's what I have to do sometimes...and I have someone in one class who doesn't practice at all, which really irritates me.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raisinnoir

Well, I have been a student of German since my high school and college years. I also had the opportunity to live in Berlin for the better part of a year with a non English speaking family. Often I would go for days without hearing a word of my native English. This was more helpful to me than anything else. That was a while ago, and my profession here at home doesn't require foreign language. I was very happy to discover Duolingo and am in the process of relearning German. I can speak it rather well, but am still dealing with the grammar; here Duolingo and the native German speakers have been a big help. As the saying goes, it's a marathon not a sprint. Every day I learn something new and/or have a mistake corrected. I look forward to my daily Duolingo; it's become almost an addiction, but a good one.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatrikRosen

I like your approach. The description of what was helpful I really agree on, going on for a while without your native language pushes me forward. I also remembered the old saying that if you really want to learn a language, get a partner from that country. ;)

You will learn faster and also the more "practical" stuff, like cussing and swearing. And of course, also all the lovely words one can say to a loved person. A relatively new word in Swedish is "sötnöt" (for lovers) and I translated that to "süßnuss". I did not exist in German before, but now it does! :D

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bastianbalthazar

On average I spend roughly 4-6 hours. It can become a little addicting, actually. Like a giant puzzle that frustrates me but which I also cannot wait to complete.

I also started my life over by moving to Germany so learning German has become a huge goal because I want to become more integrated into the culture here and open up as many opportunities for myself as possible. So there is a lot of fire under my butt to keep the learning up!

But yes, sometimes I suffer from a kind of fatigue from time to time where I do not want to take anymore in. But that happens less and less, because I have all the basic grammar worked out. If I do feel overwhelmed I may just watch a movie in German or participate in what is called "passive learning". That style of learning is a lot more relaxing (though of course doesn't provide as much benefit as speaking German or studying grammar or vocabulary). Now it's all about building vocabulary and getting better at being able to speak more quickly and spontaneously.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kassyice

I've found learning a language really interesting but I can only allot an hour or two for it since other things are also important. Is it the same as you?

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanBeyers

You're right. There are definitely priorities. But on days off, I try to use Duolingo for an hour instead of watching tv or being on social media.

I think the trick is to become more interested in language learning than the other things we may use to fill our time.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EavanM

When U.S. diplomats are undergoing language training, they treat it as a full-time job. My father was a Foreign Service Officer, and every time he changed countries he spent some number of months (how many depends how hard the language is) going to classes, Monday through Friday. I forget exactly how many hours they spent in class -- maybe six a day? Anyway, I'm sure the trainees were exhausted, but they did learn the language very fast. Many of them would be expected to speak it with something resembling fluency when they arrived in country.

March 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Casualtort

When I was at school I learned 4 different languages [I was in a language intensive system] and my brain would hurt so badly at the end of the day. When I was younger it came easier, it definitely helps me now learning new languages because my original languages from school are roughly B2-C1 level. But even for me I need to take a break, I always do 10-30 minutes of intensive grammar a day, and then an hour of casual reading. [I'm studying languages at university now].

Because I have always done multiple languages at high level I think I can do more of them at once without getting confused than a lot of people, but even for me after 1-2 hours a day I'm tired ...especially grammar...

March 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/InigoMitro

from a psychological perspective there is a theoretical limit to what you can learn in one day and you'll find after a nights sleep you will start to remember more which ties in with a nice saying which goes "during the day you are picking up pieces of a jigsaw and during your sleep you are putting those pieces together". also many armies predict language learning times and german takes 750 hours while spanish, french italian and a few others take roughly 600 hours with this in mind it only makes sense that there will be a limit to what you can actually retain in one day/overnight while some may take an extra night or so, but the longer you persist the more youll remember just as you would learning anything from math to music. finally i think its good to try and immerse yourself and maybe try to write small, simple sentances (use dictionary if/when needed) and dont worry too much about grammer at this point or even watch german youtube kids programs, theres plenty on there. Theres also a guy who does ted talks and learns anguages in 3 months just by emmursing himself and only speaking the foreign language until he learns it claiming many people go on holiday to learn a language, but either avoid the locals or allow them to speak to you in english rather than their mother tongue, but what he didnt do was care about grammar, it just came naturally as he progressed. that ties in with the theory that children learn languages without being taught and more by necessity/survival. its definitely an interesting topic though, would love to know more about it.

March 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lapristgens0

No!

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lilypad360

I find that when I am forced to by my teacher my patience for it is shorter

March 15, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoelHorowi

I didn't use to be, but I do the vocal exercises and ever since they started auto-skipping after two tries a few months ago I've been finding it very aggravating.

Basically in all the situations when I used to just be able to pause and let the bugs run out of the system before trying it again or reflect on why I wasn't pronouncing something right and learn something the only way to get through it is now to just keep yelling the words over and over again (because voice volume sometimes helps and you're only allowed so many mistakes) before it times out on me regardless of whether it seems to be bugged or not because otherwise I'll just get the "we give up on you" message that renders the whole exercise pointless.

Those moments take my exhaustion from 0-1000 pretty quick and it's hard to go more than an exercise without getting one now that the skip button is quick and compulsory.

Otherwise I can do 5-10 lessons a sitting depending on the type. Basic subject vocab (politics, nature, etc.) tends to flow by smoothly in my experience, but adverbs I always have to take slow.

March 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MichaelFivez

You can disable speaking exercices

March 20, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoelHorowi

Yes, but then you can't practice the language. I want to them fix the stuff they did that ruined them not give up on learning.

March 21, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MrFrodo.

Have you ever considered doing the reverse tree?

March 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Clange06

half an hour and i remember half of my previous lessons

March 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xaghtaersis

I have no idea. I just try to spend time on all my important languages every day. Most duolingo time is currently spend on Russian because it's the newest.

March 19, 2016
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