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optimal learning

Hey guys,

what minumum amount of points would you recommend to earn daily for learning a new language?

what would be a realisitic daily everage to obtain to optimalize the learning? my guess would be aroung 100, what are your opinions?

is there any scientific research of a minimum amount of time spend daily on learning a language?


April 16, 2013



My daily minimum is 91. This is the smallest amount of points that makes for a full coin stack for the day :-) I've managed to keep this pace all my 3 months of going through the French tree and now I've been keeping it for 4+ months for German (with only exception of 4 days of a friend's stay at my place). For me this amount is quite realistic. If I am tired or have very little time, I can cover this amount of points in 5 timed practice sessions. If I'm eager to learn, I can spend an hour exploring new lessons and learning new words.

I don't know about any scientific researches, but my experience tells me that the best is to study at least 20-30 minutes in a row. It takes a few minutes to re-adapt yourself to the language, recall what you've learned previously and immerse into the learning process. That is why I think it is better to dedicate half an hour in a row rather than take a few sessions of 5-10 minutes.

Of course you can spend more time learning and practicing the language. The more the better, however, you'll have to choose various activities so that your head won't pop of too much information :-) Again I'll share my experience: I spend about half an hour or an hour on German on Duolingo, about half an hour on French exercises from a textbook + about half an hour on podcasts for each language. (I also read in English for some time and write on the forum. This also counts as a foreign language practice ^_^)


I also aim to fill my stack of coins for the day at the very least. I'd like to know how they settled on 91 for the stack size, though. If you're that close to a nice round number like 100, why not just make it 100? Surely some research went into this.


This is easy :-)

There are 10 coins in the stack, each one for 10 points. They give you the first coin even if you get less than 10 points to mark that you have done something. It is 1-10 points for the first coin, 11-20 points for the second one and so on. So you have to earn 91-100 points for the 10th coin.


That makes sense!

Something I've wondered, but have not wanted to experiment with: if you don't fill your whole coin stack, does your streak end?


I know nothing about the streak. I guess it only appears in email notifications, doesn't it? I don't use notifications because I never forget to do what I'm supposed to do every day :-)


you don't have to fill your whole coin stack to maintain the streak :)


I have learned a few languages in my life to the point of relative fluency. I have had the best success with 10 minutes a day EVERY DAY and then one hour of serious study two to 3 times per week. If you are old enough to want to learn a language it's likely you have other responsibilities as well. If you can commit to 10 minutes every day with no exception, it's a good way to get through the times that you have to work late for a few days or you have to study for finals and can't study as much as you'd like. This helps you keep momentum and eventually get back on the wagon with your regular studies.


I'm not aware of any definitive studies, but anecdotally, I think everyone will find their own comfort zone after working with the program for a week or two. That said, here's what works for me.

My goal is to cover 5 new lessons per day, while not really aiming for a particular number of points. Instead, I try to divide my time between reviewing what I learned on the previous day and covering new material, giving the majority of my time to covering new material. When reviewing a group of lessons that were more challenging than normal, I may end up dividing my time more or less evenly between review and new material. To this end, I begin each day by going through the lessons from the previous day, and then move on to new material. I try to maintain my pre-change habit of not moving on to new lessons until I can complete the current one without mistakes. For me, this usually means going through each new lesson 1 to 3 times. While they're not my focus, this results in me typically getting between 100 and 150 points per day. If I have time afterwards, I spend some time with translations/immersion, so my points total can really go up quite a bit from there.

On weekends, I tend to have less time available for DL than during the week, so I focus instead on reviewing the material I covered during the previous week. I might only get 100 or so points a day. Sometimes I get far less, sometimes far more depending on other demands upon my time. Once a month, I spend my weekend time reviewing all of my weakest words from older lessons. Again, I'll work on some translations/immersion if I have the time available to do so.

The last couple of weeks, the constraints on my time have resulted in me not following this plan as I have since beginning the Spanish course, and I can really feel the impact on my retention of new material. I've had to adjust my daily goals accordingly, but am finally getting back to where I can spend the amount of time I prefer on review and new lessons.

Good luck!


I can only comment on what I'm doing, and not whether or not it works... I generally go after everyone else is asleep, and then until I'm mentally fatigued enough to really blow a lesson. For example, if I lose all my hearts by the last question, I bang through it again. If I'm on lesson 5 or 6 and I lose all the hearts halfway through, I call it a day.

My impression is that persistance is what matters most, and BobKauchers point captures this.


I can also only comment on what seems to work for me. I don't strive for a set number of points or time or anything on Duolingo, but instead try for a mix of study methods.

I use a LOT of resources. In addition to Duolingo, I watch movies with the Spanish soundtrack enabled, listen to channel 5 radio on rtve.es (news and talk radio), do the videos and flashcards at SpanishDict, do exercises on LiveMocha, attend classes and do video chats on Verbling, subscribe to Spanish publications in the Pulse app on my Android, do flashcards in Anki, subscribe to News in Slow Spanish via iTunes (sync it to my iPod and listen to it on the elliptical machine at the gym), and read Spanish books on my Kindle (with a bi-lingual dictionary installed so I can see the definition of a word with a touch of the screen).

I find that if I see/hear a word or phrase in one source and then again via another source within a day or two, my retention skyrockets.

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