The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

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the1whoknocks
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The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby the1whoknocks » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:08 pm

Recently, I've found myself wondering about the reason behind choosing 5,000 pages and 150 hours of native media as the size of the Super Challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I think the challenge is a great idea, and that going through that amount of ‘books’ and media is a great start in the pursuit of improving language proficiency.

I was just wondering if it was based on something like, “after 5,000 pages (50 'books') the average user will have encountered X amount of words Y number of times. This is the amount of exposure needed to naturally become familiar with the first 2,000 words of any language.”

Or, maybe it is based on results from the average forum member's experience after time spent on task, i.e., on average, that’s how long it takes to notice a perceptible difference.

Either way, I’m grateful for the challenge. I’m just curious to learn how we may have arrived at those numbers.
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby Serpent » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:35 pm

This is where it began.

After a couple of weeks we all agreed to change a book to 100 pages, for a more consistent comparison and to make it a more realistic goal (note that it was originally for beginners). From 2014 we changed it to 50 pages.

I do think that the goal is kinda arbitrary, and I've not read 5k or 10k book pages in English myself. But I find it very motivating anyway :)
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby the1whoknocks » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:28 am

Thanks a lot, Serpent. That link addressed all my questions, and it's interesting to see how that idea evolved.

I agree that the numbers appear to have been selected arbitrarily, but judging from comments from other members, the amount of input seems to be sufficient to drive at least some improvement. I'm looking forward to experiencing that myself.

Thanks again!
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby Cavesa » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:01 pm

Yes, it is arbitrary, but it works. It does move us forward, it does motivate us to read/listen more, so it is great. Personally, I am more for 10000 pages as an SC, my usual goal, and 20000 as Super Super Challenge for enthusiasts (the usual double challenge). In general, we can all sign up for more or less. As long as it works for each of us, who cares :-)
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby DaveBee » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:19 am

the1whoknocks wrote:I was just wondering if it was based on something like, “after 5,000 pages (50 'books') the average user will have encountered X amount of words Y number of times. This is the amount of exposure needed to naturally become familiar with the first 2,000 words of any language.”
There are studies with numbers like that.

I recall seeing a table of "most frequent 1000, 2000 etc words" against "encountered 5, 10, 20 times" linked to total number of words read. Unfortunately I can't find the thing! Grrr.

EDIT
Paul Nation's "How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words?"[PDF] has something similar on p.5 of the PDF.

EDIT2
See also p.55 of Mr Nation's "What do you need to know to learn a foreign language" PDF. (Reineke has mentioned this book several times)
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby Monox D. I-Fly » Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:26 am


Wait, so it isn't annual? When will the next Super Challenge start?
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Read 5,000 pages of Arabic books: 650 / 5000
Watch 9,000 minutes of Arabic videos: 1641 / 9000

Read 5,000 pages of Japanese books: 450 / 5000
Watch 9,000 minutes of Japanese videos: 809 / 9000

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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby Serpent » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:25 am

Should be in May. Yeah it lasts nearly two years (20 months). Originally it began in May and after the first challenge (which was 2x more books/pages than now) we were all tired and definitely wanted to start the next one in May rather than earlier :lol:
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby the1whoknocks » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:44 pm

DaveBee wrote:
the1whoknocks wrote:I was just wondering if it was based on something like, “after 5,000 pages (50 'books') the average user will have encountered X amount of words Y number of times. This is the amount of exposure needed to naturally become familiar with the first 2,000 words of any language.”
There are studies with numbers like that.

I recall seeing a table of "most frequent 1000, 2000 etc words" against "encountered 5, 10, 20 times" linked to total number of words read. Unfortunately I can't find the thing! Grrr.

EDIT
Paul Nation's "How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words?"[PDF] has something similar on p.5 of the PDF.

EDIT2
See also p.55 of Mr Nation's "What do you need to know to learn a foreign language" PDF. (Reineke has mentioned this book several times)


Thanks, DaveBee!

That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I really appreciate the links (particularly the first one).
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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby smallwhite » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:49 am

the1whoknocks wrote:That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

The Super Challenge started in 2012 and that paper from Nation was published later in 2014.

Paul Nation's numbers may conincide with those of the Super Challenge, but if your question is:
the1whoknocks wrote:... the reason behind choosing 5,000 pages and 150 hours...

then the reason is really just what the SC founder Solfrid Cristin said in her first SC post, I think?
That post wrote:I got the idea from a question I got the other day, when I was ecstatic about having finished my first real book in Russian, and was asked whether I felt comfortable reading in Russian now. I answered that I probably needed to read at least 100 books in Russian before I was comfortable reading in it.

And right there, right then, I decided that I am going to do just that. I will read 100 books in Russian. Since I also want to develop my listening skills, I decided to add 100 films in Russian.

And since the rules allow repeats:
That post wrote:If you just have 5 books and 5 films then your read them 20 times.

you can see that they were not trying to meet the broad word coverage that is a condition to "How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words" per Nation; they just want you to spend immersion time.

So I don't think Nation's numbers were "the reason behind choosing 5,000 pages and 150 hours".
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: 382 / 520 /520 hours
: Nonfiction known words: today 98%
: 093 / 130 /130 hours
: Fiction known words: today 96%

Dialang or it didn't happen.

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Re: The Super Challenge - Why 5,000 pages, or 150 hours?

Postby the1whoknocks » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:10 pm

Turns out the answer was in the founder's first post all along. :)

As arbitrary as the quantities seem to be, those links provide some nice food for thought. It varies by language but seeing some loosely related data "supporting" the effectiveness of the Super Challenge was nice.

Of course, there is the the whole question of the best material to choose to achieve a given number of repetitions to have a "chance" at learning a certain number of word families .... The whole thing was just nice mental fodder.

Personally, I'm optimistic of the Super Challenge's effectiveness at advancing one's language proficiency.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Smallwhite.
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