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When will I get somewhere in the language?
When will I understand what the hell’s going on?

This guide is written for those people who have never learned a foreign language before or have tried and failed. Most importantly this guide serves as an estimate for about when you’ll have advanced passive understanding in your new foreign language. It doesn’t mean you’ll be jabbering away fluently with perfect grammar.

So how will we estimate how long it will take?
By using a large arbitrary number of course! ヽ(´ー`)ノ♪

Actually, while the exact number is arbitrary, the amount itself is from my personal experience in getting to advanced passive understanding in Japanese. Advanced doesn’t mean you’ll know everything and it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to fluently produce the language by spoken or written means. However, you’ll be able to read most common texts (Not academic or specialized areas outside of your interests) and you’ll be able to understand common media and conversation at about 98% of the time.

The large arbitrary number I’ve come up with is 100,000 repetitions.
Once you’ve allowed your brain to process around 100,000 snippets of comprehensible text over a period of time, you should be at around the 98% level of comprehension in your language of choice. Snippets of text? I’ve used this term because they’re not always sentences and they’re not always phrases or single words. Personally, I try to shoot for the 3 to 10 word range for each “item.”

100,000 doesn’t mean 100,000 DIFFERENT items. It simply means that you’ve ton 100,000 repetitions of the content you’ve collected. You might only have 10,000 different items but have reviewed those items 10 times each. Obviously, if you review the same item 100,000 times, you’re not going to get anywhere. Shoot for the 8,000 to 12,000 range depending on how strong your memory is.

How long will this take?
That depends on your daily volume of comprehensible language items. How much of your day can you devote to this task?

This is an important question because people often just like the idea of being able to understand/speak a new language but when it comes down to actually doing the huge amount of work required, the slink back off into the monolingual shadows. There’s nothing really wrong with that though. Some people just don’t enjoy the process of learning languages enough to see it through. Some of us like to learn multiple languages. You’ll have to ask yourself where you fall on that spectrum.

How long and how much:
Around 274 items a day for 1 year.
Around 137 items a day for 2 years.

Which one fits your goals and life? For me I did something like the 2 year plan give or take some months.

If you think these timeframes seem too long or like too much work, you have to re-ask yourself the above question about how badly do you want this new skill. It takes a ton of time to accumulate the vocabulary you need understanding even the most commonplace media. If you wanna keep track of your numbers then you’ll probably want to do your studying using a Spaced Repetition System like Anki.

What’s next? Well, once you’ve completed this task, I’m sure you’ve found movies, books, and people that you enjoy spending time with that involve your new language. After you have this foundation, it’s simply a matter of gaining more and more words and practicing outputting them properly.

Good luck!


The title says “massive reading in order to a learn a foreign language,” but massive reading can also be used to improve your native language.

In the age of the internet, reading is a ubiquitous activity. I often hear people commenting on how other people never read, but if those other people are online a lot, then they are probably reading a whole lot more than those who occasionally open a book after watching some TV. The internet is covered in text so it’s hard to get through some web browsing without doing some heavy reading time.

So why is extensive reading good for learning languages?

・You get in a ton of example sentences.

Seeing words in several different contexts, allows your brain to better associate that word with an abstract concept. The more varied the examples are and the more often they occur, the more efficient your brain will become at processing it.

・Your vocabulary becomes enormous.

The title of this blog is “amassing words,” so you can be sure this is a top priority for me when learning languages. You can be as fluent as you want asking someone for directions, but if you can’t understand their often complicated reply… you’re screwed. You need a much stronger passive vocabulary than active vocabulary. The only way to strengthen your passive vocabulary is to encounter those new words. You might try lists of words, but this is extremely boring from my experience.

I actively use extensive reading to improve my Japanese language ability. In Japanese it’s called tadoku (多読)and it helps plant the seeds of knowing a word fluently. It’s much easier to learn words when they are in the written form. You can take your time, highlight the word, and come back to it later. After you have the first impression of the new word in your brain, you are now primed on the journey to make that word fluent. Now every time you’re watching a television show in your foreign language, you’ll have a much better chance of recognizing that word.  Sooner or later, that word will become second nature to you just like “konnichiwa,” but you needed to plant that seed first. That seed is extensive reading.

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