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What kind of learning rate is sustainable?

I've started to learn French, 25 years after giving it up in secondary school. I have access to French radio, some French books and films and French nationals to practice with. I started to take paid lessons which has been okay and I've recovered a lot of what I had forgotten but I have found Duolingo good for reinforcing what I have already learnt and to acquire new vocabulary.

At the moment I'm doing about 190 XP per day and have picked up 107 Crowns. I've managed to maintain that for just over a month. To be honest most of that was so far easy and not very challenging or new to me, but it has helped a lot. I still can't construct long complex sentences yet and some thing still drive me mad but it is helping.

Anyhow, to my question, what kind of daily learning is sustainable in the long run? I note that my current rate is nearly 4 times higher than the highest rate you can set as a target.

Any insight from fellow learners and tips for sticking with it would be helpful.

P.S. I also tried the English tree from a French persons perspective to see if that helped. Interesting but probably not helpful yet.

March 28, 2018



When I started, I took a similar pace and was trying to finish my tree by a certain time. I also refreshed all weak skills before beginning new ones. That was great to cement what I had learned and pick up new vocabulary.

After doing duolingo for two and a half years, I have leveled off at around 50 XP per day. I finished my tree and the English from French tree, and I mostly just refresh anything that went weak each day. I also do some of the labs and try to do a lot of the things you mentioned above (TV, listening, trying to practice with natives, etc).

Great work and good luck with your learning adventure!!


If you don't have to acquire a certain proficiency by a certain date, I would say "go with the flow". That's what I do: There are days when I feel motivated and focused, and on these days I do a little more, and there are other days when I'm scatterbrained, and then I just do my minimum 10 XP or take a break.

I think it is most important to see how one is doing, not only language-wise, but also feeling and overall. If I feel stressed by what I want to achieve, then I adjust my goals. Fortunately, it's totally up to me because this is my hobby.

AND I think it's as in sports: You gain your strength in the breaks. :-)


I do need to acquire French relatively quickly, but at the same time it will always be an ongoing thing not something I complete and then ignore. To be honest I've left things late in life to start, and I have wasted time that could have otherwise been used more productively.

So at the moment I'm trying the, "treat it as a game and keep pushing at it", approach. I only need to learn French too, so I'm not like the many here with many languages to learn. If I take it too seriously I'll get bored, so I think the gaming attitude helps, even if it is actually important that I learn French...


How much time do you have? How fast can you memorize things? How much do you enjoy learning French? How healthy and happy are you?

The answers to these questions would probably help you get an idea of what's sustainable. I study between 2-3 hours most days over a handful of languages. They all keep getting better and so far I'm pretty happy with the progress. I enjoy the learning process (for the most part).

Sounds to me like you're doing awesome, at any rate!


It depends on the learner (you!)

I think I’ve averaged out to about 250 XP a day over the past three months, some days higher and some days lower. On a great day, I study for an hour, but those are relatively few. Most days I study within 15 minute bursts. Sometimes it’s just not feasible for me to study consistently, and that’s all right. As long as I’m learning, or at least using the language every day, it balances out.


Whatever amount you feel you can consistently do while avoiding burnout. The most important thing is that you are interacting with the language in some way every day. Personally I feel that you should commit to at least 1-2 hours of practice every day if you're serious about attaining real fluency, but if your goal is to impress friends at dinner parties or make yourself understood in France without looking like a total idiot, then you can certainly make due with less practice. It all comes down to what your goals are, how much time you have available, and how much you can do without burning yourself out.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that language learning is a marathon, not a sprint. It's very easy to get locked into the rat-race of chasing XP numbers on duolingo and wear yourself out after a month. Learning a language is a lifelong commitment, so stick with something you know you're going to be able to keep up with over the longhaul.


As a result of recent political events in the UK, learning French has become a non-negotiable skill that I must acquire.

You are right that is a long term process rather than an event. As it's new-ish it's easy to get excited an throw one self into this and other similar sites, but I don't know if that is something I will be able to maintain indefinitely, which is what you and I think everyone else has suggested is required.

A lot of people have suggested a minimum of one hour per day, which I've heard elsewhere, which is just about possible I think, more on some days and less on other, but always striving to have some to keep repeating and re-enforcing things.

Learn French in just 5 minutes a day. For free.