What is the average number of words you can learn a day?
So...what is the average number of words you can learn a day? I have no idea how many I can learn a day because I don't count, so it's probably not an easy question to answer for anyone, but I was just curious.
ArubaHow do you define learning a word? I say 15 words a day if you speak 4 hours a day. I say only 10 because you will definitely forget them after a while, especially words that you almost never use. After a year, you would have ~5,400, which is a relatively large amount of words. Personally, it takes a lot of effort for me to remember words like "dungeon" and "mirage" or "sash" because I have literally have only come across them ONCE in my life when speaking my target language. Words like "street" or "hair" are so common that you will never forget them in your target language if you practice a lot.July 2013
United KingdomI suppose it is better to ask how many words people are CAPABLE of learning a day on average and can recall the word within the next few days at least. As long as they have a normal intelligence level. I'm sure there are some people who are like autistic geniuses who can learn way more than most people.July 2013
BrazilI learn about 10-15 words/phrases a day. But the most of words are easy to remember because they are in the 3000 most frequent words.
Also, I use Anki to help me to retain the words/phrases.July 2013
Russian FederationIN my youth I could learn more than 100 words a day, now maybe less than 10 words a day in average during the month.
But of course, learning of the words needs some special efforts, and the most of us are lazy and don't pay attention to the words.
Moreover, it's a bit boring just learning the words, and we try to avoid it yet making new and new lingqs.July 2013
Aruba100 a day! You must be a genius.July 2013
SwitzerlandI never learn the words! I'm only reading and lingqing. and after some time the words are known!
I'm sorry, Jolanda, but if I only read and lingq without paying some special attention to the words, I can remember only 10% of all Lingqs which are the most often in the texts. Other 90% I just omit, I can't them remember after simple lingqing.July 2013
I only told how I learn.
You must go your own way!
United KingdomToday I read a German text and it had the word 'mehl' in it and for the first time I didn't have to click on it because I remembered it meant 'flour' in English.
Whether I remember it in another six months is a different matter! If I do, then I will have truly learned it.
Just remembering that one word today though really made me happy! :)July 2013
ArubaI've read that it takes the average learner 7 exposures to fully learn a word, although I'm sure you can still forget words if they are rare. So if somebody learned 20 words a day, they would have 7,300 after a year. But they would have to review them many times to actually remember them.
My personal suspicion is that it is easy to remember words early on in a language since you will be studying common words that will be reinforced. But as you go on and learn really obscure words then you slow down since you rarely hear them in daily life and you have to make an extra special effort to know them.July 2013
"My personal suspicion is that it is easy to remember words early on in a language since you will be studying common words that will be reinforced. But as you go on and learn really obscure words then you slow down since you rarely hear them in daily life and you have to make an extra special effort to know them."
Pretty much this. If I look at a ten page story, there might be 5 words I'm not sure about, and only 1 of which might be a word I have no idea about. I have to really try to grow my vocabulary because *probably* I'd be able to live a fully complete life with the number of words I currently know.
Here's an example of a word I learned recently and how I learned it: "Perdrix" - Within the context I was about to guess that it meant partridge, and it turned out I was right.July 2013
ArubaWhen I learn French (I'm at the beginner stage) I always review LingQs in lessons and I also review my LingQs of the day. When I learn English, because I'm at the very much higher level, I only review LingQs of the day... It's pretty tiresome to go through a flashcard which has about 50 words, or more in it, because I read texts which have many words... What do you think about my approach?
Edit: I also, from time to time, do the dictation of known words (which I learned and are marked with number 4).July 2013
ArubaAverage number of words you can learn per day:
French 5-7July 2013
AdministratorCanadaMuch depends on the language, how you study, how much time you put in every day, and other factors, especially what you mean by "learning a word". And of course how you count words.
My goal in learning words is to learn to recognize them when I hear them and see them in context. I want to have the largest possible passive vocabulary, so that I can read, listen to radio, and understand people when I talk to them. I am quite content to have a much smaller active vocabulary. When I have the opportunity to spend a lot of time speaking to natives, a lot of these passive words will be come active. Meanwhile my goal is comprehension, thus my focus on passive vocabulary. In my view, this is more practical when you don't live where the language is spoken.
If I look at my statistics at LingQ I can get a sense of what is possible with a learning style of intensive LingQing.
With languages with a lot of shared vocabulary, we can learn a lot of words quite fast. In the case of Romanian, I acquired over 24,000 words in 60 days according to my statistics at LingQ. This includes the 21,000 "known words" on my stats, and some portion of the over 10,000 LingQs that I created. (I assume that I know half of my "LingQs.)
This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day. When I went to Romania, I could understand a lot of what people said and I could participate in conversations to some extent. You can watch my interview with my tutor on youtube.
In Czech, in a little more than a year, I achieved 55,000 "known words" and 44,000 LingQs. Despite having learned Russian beforehand, I needed to LingQ more and gained fewer words incidentally in relation my number of LingQs. I checked my LingQs on the Vocabulary page. Perhaps 20% of these LingQs are phrases, and I know maybe half of the rest, so that means I can add about 15,000 of the LingQs to the total, giving me about 70,000 words in let's say 350 days. This comes to roughly 200 words a day.
If you define words as word families, then you need to reduce this number by some factor. I don't what the factor is for different languages. In English, according to Stephen Nation, the ratio of word families to words is 1 to 1.6 . Maybe the number for Romanian is 1 to 2.5 and for Czech 1 to 5. I just don't know. At LingQ we count every form of a word as a separate word.
I am a heavy LingQer, reader, and listener. I am not a heavy user of flash cards. I think if you spend a lot of time on Anki or flash cards you will learn fewer words. You will pick up fewer incidental, or freebie new words. I find that the time spent scratching your brain over words while doing flash cards is time less well spent than reading and meeting up with your yellow saved LingQs again and again in context.July 2013
"I acquired over 24,000 words in 60 days ... This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day."
For you, "learning" means "recognition".
As you already know many romance languages, "from scratch" is not true!
For a normal learner, such learning rates are not achievable, nor realistic.
For me, "learning" means "production", abilty to produce the word in a conversation.
"Recognition" is only ONE STEP of several steps towards "production".
So my numbers (Chinese 1-2, Russian 3-5, French 5-7 words per day) are more realistic.
If you REALLY learn 5 French words per day, and you are able produce them in a conversation months later, then even "5 words" may be a high goal.July 2013
English has over 60% Latin-based words, which came from Norman-French. A person who knows English has some of the same advantages in learning French or Spanish, as I had in learning Romanian.
I might add that massive input, vast quantities of listening and reading, were also the methods that I used in learning languages that were completely new to me, such as Chinese and Russian. My rate of vocabulary acquisition was much much higher than the numbers you suggest.
It is difficult to measure how large our active vocabulary actually is. Different words from our passive vocabulary suddenly show up in our active vocabulary without us making any special effort. Sometimes we find the words we want and sometimes we don't. If we train ourselves to notice words and phrases, in the way we do at LingQ, more and more of these passive words will become actively available to us.
In my view, a focus on "production" in other words worrying about being able to use words, is counterproductive when it comes to language and vocabulary acquisition. It means less time spent engaged with the language in vocabulary rich contexts. Children don't learn words by studying flashcards nor deliberately trying to produce the words they have learned. They learn the language and words by being exposed to the language in a variety of contexts. They speak when they are ready and when they have something they want to say. I believe that is basically also how adults learn. Most adults have a significant advantage over children in that they already have a large vocabulary in their own language and, perhaps most important of all, in most cases they can read.
Just as it is counterproductive to spend too much time trying to "nail down" grammar, it is counterproductive to spend too much time trying to "nail down" vocabulary. I believe it is much more effective to find content of interest, things that are enjoyable to read and listen to, and spend as much time with them as possible.July 2013
I agree with a lot of what you´re saying, but I don´t believe that it´s possible to say "this is many words you learn each day". As I said, there are too many factors that come into play.
I guess that´s why Steve claims to learn new words a few thousand percent faster than you^^July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ Steve
"This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day."
I thought you knew most of the Romanian vocabulary from English and the other Romance languages.July 2013
It depends on what you mean by " from scratch". The Romanian words are recognizable but not necessarily identical to the Romance vocabulary in French, or English or Italian. Here is an article from Radio Romania, which has a lot of recognizable Romance words. If you study the Patterns series in our library at LingQ, which uses more day to day vocabulary, you may find fewer recognizable Romance words.
Audierile în cazul fraudei de la liceul Bolintineanu continuă
de Cristina Ghioca
20 dintre cei peste 30 de elevi audiaţi până acum nu au putut preciza dacă s-au dat bani pentru a influenţa comisia de la bacalaureat, spune avocatul directorului liceului.
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Peste 30 de elevi au fost audiaţi până acum la Poliţia Capitalei, în cazul suspiciuni de fraudă la bac de la Liceul Bolintineanu, a declarat avocatul George Moloman, avocatul directorului de la liceul Bolintineanu, Costica Vărzaru, care a participat la audieri.
Potrivit acestuia, douăzeci dintre elevi au spus în faţa procurorilor că au dat bani pentru clopoţel, banchet şi închirierea de robe şi album foto, dar niciunul nu a putut să precizeze dacă s-au dat bani pentru a influenţa comisia de la bacalaureat.
Avocatul a mai spus că au fost doi elevi care au spus că au auzit că s-ar fi dat bani, 100 de lei, dar nu au putut să precizeze de unde au auzit, unde s-au dat şi pentru ce.
Audierile continuă la Poliţia Capitalei, transmite redactorul Radio România, Daniela Mănuţă.
Notele de la bacalureat au fost afişate la licee şi au fost postate pe site-ul ministerului educatiei.
Au promovat 55,4% din elevii care au susţinut examenul de bacalaureat, cu 11% mai mult ca anul trecut.
Creşterea se datorează diferenţierii subiectelor, spune ministrul educaţiei Remus Pricopie.
Premierul nu este de acord cu generalizările privind fraudarea examenului
Premierul Victor Ponta i-a felicitat pe toţi cei care au promovat examenul de Bacalaureat, informează redactorul Radio România, Cristina Grecu.
El a arătat că nu este de acord cu generalizările privind frauda şi nici cu cele potrivit cărora toţii copiii sunt prost pregătiţi la bacalaureat.
Victor Ponta a anunţat că aşteaptă luni explicaţii de la ministrul de interne, Radu Stroe, în legătură cu acţiunea poliţiei de vineri, de a lua cu autocarele elevii pentru a fi audiaţi.
El spune că dacă s-au făcut abuzuri, cei vinovaţi vor fi traşi la răspundere.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaColin, I should add that Romanian has about 70-75% Latin based vocabulary, which is less than the other Romance languages, but more than English. It is a bit of an outlier.July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomSo if they are recognizable, does that mean you would have quickly set them to known when you first came across them?July 2013
AdministratorCanadaColin, I go through a lesson using the keyboard, hitting Enter to save the blue words that I don't know, and clicking "X" on the non words. Then I click on the "Move all remaining new words to the Known words list". I sometimes go back and save phrases. Otherwise I read the lesson on my iPad.July 2013
I agree with many of Steve's language learning strategies, but I don't like such statements like "I acquired over 24,000 words in 60 days" because I find them unrealistic and demotivating for most of the learners here.
Steve also tends to read fast and "LingQ fast" by pressing just RETURN and using Google Translate's or other people's LingQs. I prefer to find the best translation and think a bit more about a sentence (according to Steve's principle #3 "Learn To Notice").
But people differ, and so the usage of LingQ differs, and the number of words we "learn" differs.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ Steve - Oh yes, me too, but that's not what I meant. What I mean is that you did not really learn 400 words a day. If you set 400 words a day to known on LingQ, it is because you recognized these words based on your previous knowledge. At least this is how I understand it. Please correct me if I am wrong.
According to my stats, I learned 140 words per day in the last 6 months at LingQ. This is nowhere near realistic, expecially since I save all the nonsense as known too.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaI only used Romanian as an extreme case. I think 100 a day is realistic.July 2013
think we should just share our experiences here without worrying about whether we are motivating or demotivating others. It is possible that some people are demotivated by seeing a number of 1 to 5 as the number of words we can learn a day. It is nevertheless important to share our different approaches and different experiences.July 2013
CanadaHow about "der", "die", "das", "dem" and "den" in German?
Or "quoi", "comment", "combien", "pourquoi" and "que" in French?
If you understand every way to use these 5 words in a single day, that would be amazing progress.
It´s an extreme example, but I hope you know what I mean.
5 words a day might be demotivating without hearing u50´s explanation and 400 words a day might seem like bragging without hearing Steve´s explanation.July 2013
ArubaAnother thing is that the definition of "knowing" a word differs from person to person. Are we talking about just knowing the dictionary definition? Or are we talking about knowing the myriad of definitions and the connotations that the word implies? For example, a Puerto Rican professor told us that the word "ambitious" has a negative connotation in Puerto Rican Spanish (maybe Spanish in general but I haven't asked other natives this). Also, I just learned that in Spain, the word "suburb" has a negative connotation as it implies living in a poor area.
The knowledge of a word doesn't just end with knowing the dictionary definition, that is all I'm saying. Under this more stringent definition about knowing a word, most people would have a much lower number of words learned per day.July 2013
I was just thinking of "to cover one´s feet", I´m pretty sure that every native speaker and most english learners know the words in that sentence, but how many of them would get the meaning of that phrase?
What about "I´m all ears" or "He´s the big cheese"?^^
Knowing and understanding words a two completely different things sometimes.July 2013
United StatesSteve, if you don't do flashcards very much, how do you get your lingqs from yellow to white? Do you just realize you know the word one day and change its status?July 2013
I sometimes move them in batches to status four in the vocabulary section. I do study flashcards but not that often. When I do, I often move words to known. Mostly I think I move words to know while reading at the computer or on my iPad. As I see LingQ which I now know very well, I just move them to know.July 2013
AdministratorCanada@ caza and Puale,
It is not possible nor practical in my view to know all of the possible combinations of words, nor all of the possible shades of meanings of words, not in foreign languages and not in our own language. To me a word is known when I can recognize it in one context. That is usually a good start, or a Hint, as we say in LingQ, towards the meaning of the word. The more often we meet up with that word again, the more complete our knowledge of the word, the scope of its meaning, and how it's used, will become.July 2013
ArubaIt's not an either or proposition. It's not like you choose to learn a lot of words with little depth or learn just a few words with exhaustive study of the minutiae of each word. The deeper the knowledge that a person has of a language and of the words, the more subtle they can be when expressing themselves. The register of a person obviously changes when speaking to a bunch of university or higher educated graduates in a graduation ceremony or when talking to a bunch of b-boys in an urban setting.
I stopped learning a bunch of rare dictionary words because they are hardly ever used by natives in my target language. The only times that I look up words are when I read relatively informal articles online and not RAE dictionary type words that even some natives don't know. One will learn words at a blistering fast pace when they are common words but it definitely slows down when you try to learn obscure words that are never reinforced. Well, unless one is only reading. In that case one's time wouldn't be occupied with oral practice of the language.July 2013
United StatesWhen I mark a word as known, I know it passively - if I understand them in the context that they are being used, I mark them as known. No other criteria. I don't worry about other contexts. I don't worry if I can use the word in my active vocabulary. I'm not sure how I would even be able to determine those things anyway. How could I read or listen to something in one context and then decide if I know it in other contexts?July 2013
AdministratorCanadaI use the dictation function on my computer. I apologize if sometimes I am in a hurry and don't re-read my comments carefully. The odd strange comments sneak in.
Very much in the LingQ spirit!July 2013
United KingdomDuring my CELTA certification I was taught to plan for 7+/-2 new words in any 90 minute lesson - call it 5 words per hour. The focus was not on building a large passive vocabulary but in being able to produce this new language quickly. If the latter is your own goal for a foreign language then I'd argue that this is a reasonable benchmark.
Do you want to be able to USE a vocabulary of 5000 words or word families? Expect 1000 hours of study.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaI do not understand why you would assume that learning takes place primarily in the classroom.
I believe that to comfortably use a large active vocabulary, you will need to possess a much larger passive vocabulary. To comfortably use 5,000 words, you will need to interact with native speakers who use a much larger vocabulary, and you will need to understand them.
I think you will achieve your goal of a large active vocabulary faster if you focus your learning on intensive input activities, such as we do here at LingQ, and gradually increase your interaction with tutors as you progress.
As for the number of hours required, this depends on the language, and other factors, as has been discussed here.July 2013
NorwayI believe understanding and being understood is the key. I don't know how many times I thought I knew a word until I heard it in a different context than what I knew before. Sometimes in a context not shown in a dictionary. So building a large passive vocabulary is my goal to reach understanding faster in order to learn to turn those words into active vocabulary so that I can be understood. Since drilling words in my head with flash cards and other methods don't work, the more input I have over time and the more words are seen or heard in a context tends to build my active vocabulary in a more usable way. We all learn in different ways, so it is important to discover what works best for you. Taking positive steps in using the new language daily is my way no matter how big the steps are.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaTo me a word is like a person you get to know and who is going to help you learn the language. You know lots of people without knowing them in detail. The more often you meet them in different situations the better you get to know them. It is the same with words. The task in language learning is not only meeting words or friends for the first time but also getting to know them through frequent exposure. If you focus your efforts on trying to know a few words very throughly, then you won't have the time to expose yourself to the words you have already met. We constantly need to see and hear even the most basic words that we are always getting to know better and better.July 2013
When I see a yellow word go by, and recognize it more easily than I did previously, I mark it with a lighter yellow, until eventually I simply clear it.July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomI just watched Steve's YouTube video about this thread and it made me think about my experiences with Anki. I used Anki as my main way of learning vocabulary starting around the beginning of December and ending mid January when I realised that it could not keep up with LingQ. Anki keeps good statistics. I used it a lot, and was doing about 45 minutes per day, entirely while travelling to and from work. In that time, I had got around 1200 words to what could be called the known level. This corresponds to about 25 words per day (and this is not counting different word forms separately). All of the words I added myself, and I only added words that were unknown to me.
As a side note, the reason I stopped liking Anki was not that I found it to be a slow way of learning flashcards, but that I found it to be an ineffective way to learn words. Anki was great at helping me to memorise words such that I could recall them within Anki, but the moment I saw the word outside of Anki, most of the time I was unable to understand it. I remember sitting on a tram in Vienna studying on Anki, reviewing a word and being able to recall the meaning of it instantly, and then 10 seconds later looking up and reading the word on the wall of the tram and having no idea what it meant.July 2013
United StatesWhen I used Anki, I usually just did a clumsy (but plausibly effective) import of sentences wherein I had seen a given word. I didn't bother to prepare a definition for the other side. If I grasped the word upon seeing it again, that was good. In a way that was a lot like a portion of the process here. But the LingQ process is much more complete.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ Steve
I have been thinking a bit more about how you got the 400 words per day number. You wrote the following.
"In the case of Romanian, I acquired over 24,000 words in 60 days according to my statistics at LingQ. This includes the 21,000 "known words" on my stats, and some portion of the over 10,000 LingQs that I created. (I assume that I know half of my "LingQs.) This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day."
Looking at your stats, I see you have 21,048 known words, but only 641 of these were words that you originally LingQed, and then set to known. This means that of the 21,048 known words, 20,407 were set to known when you first came across them. Given how you use the system, you would have set these to known because you knew their meanings the first time you saw them. In what way does this count as learning the words? Surely when you set a word to known the first time you see it, all you are doing is telling the system that you already knew this word. For example, if I opened an English lesson with 1000 words in it, chances are I would know all of the words in there. If I then set them all to known, could I claim that I just learned 1000 words?
I would say that based on your statistics, it is only fair to say that you learned 641 words. In 60 days, that is then not much more than 10 words per day. There is also an unknown fraction of the 10,674 LingQs that you have yet to set as known but have learned in the process, but I think it is difficult to know what this fraction is (in my experience, it is a small fraction). Probably 10 words per day is a bit small but sounds to me more reasonable than 400 per day.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ creimann
I tried doing all this stuff with learning words in sentences through Anki but I could never be bothered to keep it up. Probably it would have been better if I had done it that way, but then it would have slowed me down a lot. I was able to get through so many words in Anki because I did not spend time on each individual word. It is the same in LingQ. I never read the phrases that are saved with the LingQs, even when I do flashcards.July 2013
I think when Steve comes across words and they are marked known without him having to LingQ them is what he would call the incidental learning.
You have to consider that LingQ does not consider declensions. So eat and eaten can be different. So if someone came starting English from zero and had to LingQ eat, later on they may not have to LingQ eaten because they understand based on context.July 2013
You cannot discount the words that I learned incidentally. When I started Romanian I knew no words of Romanian. Soon I realized that there were many cognates with Italian and French. Soon I got to know which ones have the same meaning as their cognates and which don't. Some I could guess from context, and as brichardson2x says, many were different forms of words that I had learned.
I see no reason to discount incidentally learned words. Most words are learned incidentally. The more you listen and read, the more incidental words you learn. That is the advantage of this form of learning as opposed to heavy Anki learning.
The analogy with English does not work. You already speak English. You cannot claim to learn a language you already know. I didn't know Romanian.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ Steve
What exactly do you mean by learning a word incidentally?
You said earlier in this post on this thread
"My goal in learning words is to learn to recognize them when I hear them and see them in context."
From this, and from other statements of yours, I assume you meant that you consider a word 'known' if you are able to recognise one of its uses when you come across it in a context. Please correct me if I am wrong by what you mean when you say you know a word.
Presumably in order to 'learn' a word, you need to first not know it, and then after learning it, know it. By your definition of knowing a word, that means that you could not at first recognise the word in context and then after learning the word, you could recognise it in context. But if you were able to understand a lot of the vocabulary already from other Romance languages or even English before you saw them in Romanian, in what way can you claim to have learned those words, given your definition of what it means to know a word? You may not have known Romanian, but you knew most of the vocabulary, by your own definition of what it means to know a word.
The analogy with English works in the way I meant it. I don't think I can claim to have learned words that I already know, no matter what language it is. For example, if I come across 'to import' in an English text, and set it to known on LingQ, clearly I have not just learned that word. Similarly, if I come across 'importieren' in a German text, and know what it means because I know it from English, I can't claim to have learned the word just because I have seen it for the first time; or at least not by your definition of what it means to know a word (as I understand it).July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomWow. Rereading my last post, I am struck by how much it sounds like a poor quality philosophy essay that tries to find a clear answer to an fuzzy ambiguous question using poorly defined concepts. Maybe it is silly to try to discuss this at all. Maybe we should just give up and accept that the question cannot really be answered in any unambiguous way. Astrophysics is simpler than this.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaColin, we are talking about learning languages. You cannot learn a language you already know. You can learn Romanian you cannot learn English.
The first time we hear a new language we don't understand much. If the language has cognates we may think we hear a recognizable word but we aren't sure. The same is true when we read, although in reading we may recognize more words that we think may be cognates. In learning all languages, things that appear opaque, fuzzy or difficult at first, slowly become clearer and more understandable. In my 10th or 20th or 30th lesson I may skip over a word and not LingQ it, because I think I know it. I might very well have saved or LingQed this word if I had come across it earlier. This is true for all languages. It is true for me in Romanian, Russian, Czech and Korean. The higher the percentage of cognates, the faster we can learn new vocabulary especially incidentally.
Our ability to notice, our ability to infer meaning, our ability to relate new word to words we have already learned, this all increases over time. That is why it is so important, in my view, to focus on massive input rather than studying individual lists of words. You will learn more words, and especially more incidental words, if you devote yourself to massive listening and reading.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaNot at all, Colin. I believe this issue of the words we learn incidentally is very important. It is a major reason why the massive input approach to vocabulary acquisition is so powerful.July 2013
SwedenSome people are happy with getting the gist and using whatever knowledge they have (and still keep improving little by little). Others are obsessed with getting everything perfect from day 1.
I've met both kinds of people in all aspects of life, sports, music, languages... My experience is that people from group 2 never seem to get anywhere, despite the "solid base".July 2013
SpainFor example, I have been studying a biology lesson I have imported. It had many new words, but all of them were cognates for me: "monera", "protoctista", "fungi", "carbon atoms", "lipids", "nucleic acids", "colonies", etc. So I didn't lingQ any of them. I learnt them immediately. I know I can recognize them in the future in spoken and written language. They are now part of my "known words". Summing the cognates, the words with an obvious meaning for the context, and the different forms of some words (set of words with the same meaning) , I suppose that the number of known words may be dramatically increased in these cases.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ Steve
"Colin, we are talking about learning languages. You cannot learn a language you already know. You can learn Romanian you cannot learn English."
We are talking about learning words, and my point is that we can't learn words we already know.
I will write more tomorrow when I am at a real computer. I hate typing on the iPad.July 2013
United StatesIf you've never seen the word, but you understand what it means did you already know it? How could you already know a word without having seen it? I believe your brain, with a combination of context and prior knowledge seemingly 'instantaneously' learned a word.
I'll use an example in a language extremely far from English.
In Japanese I knew 俳優 meant actor. I had never seen the word 女優 but I knew that the word meant actress, I mark it as known. How would you explain this phenomena(Knowing this will give me a better perspective on where you're coming from)?July 2013
AdministratorCanadaMy point is that many of these cognates are not obvious at first. Besides, let's not be fixated on Romanian. Not all incidentally learned words are simply cognates.There are far fewer obvious cognates with English in Czech or Russian not to mention Korean. You may have noted that I suggested 100 words a day as a reasonable number for a learner to achieve at LingQ if they follow my approach, counting words the way we count them here.. Romanian is an aberration.
However, if we do not count cognates, then we would have to discount any English person's achievements in learning French, which I would be loth to do. See the example below.
I have taken a text from Le Monde. I have put in the cognates from English below each line of French text. Am I to understand that you would consider these cognates not to be "newly known words" nor "learned words" for someone studying French. I think that many people, myself included, would LingQ some of them, if coming across them for the first time.
Sauver l'Italie ou Berlusconi ? Au lendemain d'une journée marquée par la décision de la Cour de cassation de statuer dès le 30 juillet sur la condamnation en
save Italy journey marked decision court cassation statute July condemnation
appel de Silvio Berlusconi à quatre ans de prison et cinq ans d'interdiction d'exercice de charge publique pour fraude fiscale, les parlementaires du Peuple de la
appeal quartet annual prison annual interdiction exercise charge public fraud fiscal parliament people
liberté (PDL droite) ont décidé de boycotter, mercredi 10 juillet, les travaux de la Chambre et du Sénat malgré la détérioration de la situation économique. La
liberty adroit decided boycot July travail chamber senate deterioration situation economic
veille également, l'agence de notation Standard & Poor's (SP) avait abaissé d'un nouveau cran (BBB) la note de l'Italie à la suite de prévisions plus sombres
surveillance equal agency notation base new note Italy suite prevision plus somber
que prévu (moins 1,9 % du PIB en 2013, selon SP, - 1,8 % selon le Fonds monétaire international).
preview minus funds monetary internationalJuly 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomI don't think it actually worth worrying about what it really means to know a word. There is no correct answer. I was just going by how I thought Steve defined it.
I was only fixated on Romanian because I thought Steve's claim to have learned 400 words per day was a little excessive, but that is certainly not an important point here.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaThe 2X man's example is a good one. While the process of recognizing the meaning of new words may be more obvious in languages that use characters as in his example, the process of acquiring new words by default is the same in other languages. We learn them from context. We learn them by associating them with words we already know. We learn them because they are new forms of words we already know. These incidentally learned words are our largest source of new words or learned words in every language that I have learned.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaColin, what are your views on the French cognates for an English speaker? Would they count as new words? As learned words?July 2013
ArubaI think more important than having reviewed X number of words a day is the number of words that one can actually recognize and use correctly (both spoken and written, but especially when speaking and listening) after a certain period of time after studying. For example, 100 words in 5 days or whatever.July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomSteve, I am only going by how I understand your definition of what it means to know a word. Most of the English cognates I recognized before looking at your lists (some I still cannot see and 'adroit' I don't even know in English), and I have no experience at all with the Romance languages. The ones I understood without needing to look at your lists I would not consider learned, based on your definition of what it means to know a word, if I marked them as known in a lesson. The others I would have LingQed.July 2013
United StatesI get the impression that this comes down to how hard you want to be on yourself. When I first started learning Japanese, I couldn't understand most words that were cognates even if they only sounded slightly different than the English version of the word. So I LingQ'd those words and many of them are now status 4 "known" words for me. Now when I run across cognates, I often recognize them immediately so they get marked as known immediately as well.
So did I learn these new cognates that I've run across or did I know them all along? Did I learn those first cognates that I ran across or did I already "know" them and just didn't realize it yet?
I'm pretty sure I learned something along the way, maybe it was those words or maybe it was something else. It's a whole lot easier for me to just count them as known and move on. That is what they are after all - known words. Getting back to the question at hand - how many words can one learn a day - is it wrong for me to count those known words as ones I have learned?July 2013
AdministratorCanadaIt is also a matter of what we can measure. We cannot distinguish between obvious cognates which mean the same, hidden cognates, "false friends" and unrelated words that we just inferred the meaning of. So, not that it matters, I am inclined to include cognates as learned words. They are certainly part of the acquired "known words" total.July 2013
AdministratorCanadacaza, as I suspected you are more a proponent of the first proposition, in other words that it is important to be able to use a word in order to count it as known. That is where we disagree.
One inconvenience with one's 'active vocabulary" is that it is difficult to count or measure. At least with passive vocabulary, we have a means of measuring it here at LingQ.July 2013
ArubaI said twice that I was a proponent of the second scenario. However, then one consolidates his/her knowledge and expands on what they know. I have repeatedly said that I advocate a quantity and quality approach to language learning. (everything in life, actually) I don't advocate just knowing a basic vocabulary of 1,000 words and be anal-retentive in studying those few words.
You could count active vocabulary by seeing if you could use it in a sentence, unprompted and without help. On a multiple choice test I can get a lot of questions right just by recognition. However the number of things I can actually converse about, unprompted is much less. That is probably more applicable since it represents a higher level of knowledge.
In terms of what I count as "knowing" a word, I would personally define it as being able to use it in a sentence when writing or speaking. In English or Spanish, I don't think I have a very large discrepancy between what I passively and actively know, believe it or not. Whether I actually use some words like "decorum" or "caterwaul" in life is another story, however.July 2013
ArubaWhat exactly is meant by "passive" learning of words?July 2013
United StatesI only know a word if I think of it spontaneously in every circumstance where it is applicable. In English, for example, I have a working vocabulary of exactly 342 words.
Just kidding. Hey I'm on vacation. :)July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomI agree with cgreen0038's post here. Very well put.July 2013
United States@BtotheB2 - When I talk about passively knowing a word, I mean that I can understand the word when I hear or read it. When I actively know a word, it means that I can use it in conversations or writing. So in other words, passive vocabulary is used for input (reading/listening) and active vocabulary is used for output (writing/speaking).July 2013
GermanyI very much subscribe to the Lingq philosophy of learning languages but I can also see where Hape is coming from when he feels that Steve's word counts can seem intimidating or pretentious. I see the Lingq count more as a relative measure of exposure and in that sense I think it has value. Having said that, speaking a language really well does mean knowing all shades of meaning of a word, all its grammatical forms, usage in colloquialisms and proverbs etc. Essentially one should become one with that word. Now, that is not the case after a couple of months (or even a year) of going at a rate of 400 new words a day.
Even though the word count may be high initially, the words will certainly not have solidified yet. Using the Lingq approach the learner very often infers meaning of unknown or somewhat known words from context and in that sense the context corroborates the fuzzy concept of its meaning that the learner has and thereby helps to refine and solidify it further.
I remember Steve struggling with the very basic word "fremtid" (Swedish for future, in his video on how he learned Swedish) because in that clip he saw it in isolation (in a book title) and in that context he may have expected something like "the present time" which possibly threw him off guard. To me it is misleading to speak of a large arsenal of assumed known words if such basic words (like future) have not solidified somewhat more. Therefore, again, thinking of the Lingq count as a relative measure of exposure makes more sense to me. Solidifying and consolidating the meaning and usage of single words takes a very long time indeed.July 2013
United KingdomI don't think I ever passively know a word. I either know it or I don't. If I know it I could use it in a sentence but the surrounding words can be an issue. I find I passively know whole sentences not individual words. So I understand a sentence someone says but if you asked me to quote it back I couldn't do it at all. There are LOADS of sentences I understand that I could never construct myself. It's really frustrating.July 2013
Just wait until you know 10-15 thousand words in your russian. You'll start to find yourself guessing the meaning of words that you have never seen before based on their resemblance to other words. You'll find your passive knowledge grow exponentially in contrast to your active knowledge: You'll learn many passive words for each active word.
In your native language, I can assure you that you know more words only passively then you would think.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ btotheb - do you define knowing a word to mean that you can use it in a sentence? If so, you do not contradict what others on here are saying when they talk about passively knowing words. You are just using a different definition of the term. There must be words in Russian that you understand but cannot use. This is what people mean when they say they passively know words.
@ Friedemann - I don't think Steve's claim seems intimidating or pretentious. Other people might. I just think it is misleading.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ Steve
I liked your post where you gave the sentences in French with the English cognates underneath. This seems like a good way to test how much French vocabulary can really be considered 'known' (by how I understand your definition) to me prior to studying French. Here are a few lines of French copied and pasted out of the French Wikipedia page about the French language. I have listed what I think are the cognates underneath. I have not used a dictionary or any other resource, and I have no experience learning French (didn't do it at school, never read a French text, not studied a French phrasebook,...) or any other Romance language. I tried not to repeat the same word twice, I only went through the text once, and I didn't check any of the answers. Please let me know how well I have done. How many did I get wrong and how many did I miss?
"Le français est une langue indo-européenne de la famille des langues romanes. Le français s'est formé en France (variété de la « langue d’oïl ») et est aujourd'hui parlé sur tous les continents par environ 220 millions de personnes dont 115 millions de locuteurs natifs1, auxquels s'ajoutent 72 millions de locuteurs partiels (évaluation Organisation internationale de la francophonie : 2010). Elle est une des six langues officielles et une des deux langues de travail (avec l’anglais) de l’Organisation des Nations unies, et langue officielle ou de travail de plusieurs organisations internationales ou régionales, dont l’Union européenne"
- French, language, indo-european, family, romance, form, France, variation, continents, environment, people, million, natives, evaluation, organisation, international, Francophone, official, English, United Nations, regional, European Union
Of course I would not understand most of these words when spoken.July 2013
United KingdomI get it now that djvlbass explained what knowing a passive word is. Yeah I guess the meaning of words sometimes in a sentence but I tend to learn them in the process, so I'll write the word down and double check I understood the meaning right. Sometimes I guess a word that would fit in the context and find it means something a bit different.
I just remembered something that I think would be passive. All the variations of a word like Blue depending on what case it's in, so I would recognize the root of the word and maybe its new ending even if I haven't heard it before...is that passive?July 2013
AdministratorCanadaColin, you missed the following
parlance, interlocutor, partial, travail,
Now if someone records this for you, and you study it at LIngQ, and you are able to undersand it when you hear it, in my view, you can say that you know these words, and that you learned these French words at LIngQ. It will take you a while. You will also want to invest some time in easier material, material on other subjects, basic sentence patterns etc. as I did with Romanian.
As you listen and read to this and other material, and LingQ new words, including cognates, you will find that you start to be able to use some of them after a while. You will then want to speak to someone, say a tutor at LingQ. Go for it.July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomI don't know parlance and interlocutor in English either. I think this is where we come into a grey area. Would you say somebody knowns a word if they can understand it read, but not heard? Until now I have just thought about knowing a word when read but didn't consider the fact that it is easier to recognise cognates when written.
p.s. I don't plan to study French.July 2013
United States@ Colin:
"Of course I would not understand most of these words when spoken."
After encountering and understanding words in written form, your chance of hearing them correctly goes up considerably.July 2013
"I see the Lingq count more as a relative measure of exposure and in that sense I think it has value. "
It is certainly a measure of exposure, but not only. In fact, when the "known word" count increases, your understanding of the language increases. As new lessons have lower and lower "new word" totals, you are able to understand more and more of the language, assuming you also do a lot of listening. So the "known word" count is quite a reliable measure of your increased comprehension. Comprehension, in my view, is at the core of language learning, comprehension both when reading and listening.
"speaking a language really well does mean knowing all shades of meaning of a word, all its grammatical forms, usage in colloquialisms and proverbs etc."
This is simply not true. It is not even true for my native language.
"I remember Steve struggling with the very basic word "fremtid""
I presume "fremtid" is Norwegian, in Swedish the word is "framtid." In any case, I have always felt and said that however well we speak a foreign language, there always times when we don't find a word, or have misunderstood a word, or come across other gaps in our knowledge of that language. If I did not identify the meaning of "framtid" it is either because I had come across the word and forgotten it, or because I had never come across it before. Note that my "known words" total for Swedish at LingQ is only 3,450. So I don't see the relevance of Swedish to the known words/learned words discussion. As to how well I speak Swedish, for sure I could improve. I usually rank it in the middle of the languages that I speak and vocabulary is certainly the weakest aspect of my Swedish.
I have not done much Swedish at LIngQ. If I had studied Swedish at LingQ I would likely have "LingQed" the word "framtid" the first time I met it. If the word is truly a "basic" word, it would have come up again, highlighted in yellow. I would have learned it. If I invested a month or so in Swedish at LingQ I would have a large number of LingQs but an even larger number of "known words" since I learned the language before LingQ, largely reading and listening, but without LingQ's functionality. So, for me, a lot of words remain fuzzy. One day I hope to do more Swedish here at LingQ but right now I am pursuing other languages.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaColin, we only measure "known words" from texts tat appear here at LingQ, in other words we are measuring people who study the LingQ way. It is a measure that is easy to do on the system but it is not perfect. The assumption is that the learner listens to the texts much more often than he or she reads them. If the learner is not listening a lot, away from the computer, on an mp3 player, than the system will be much less effective.
Generally members should be motivated to understand at least 70% of what they hear. That is the process. That is what we advise people to do.July 2013
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ creimann
My point was that if I had tried to do what I did with those French sentences with audio instead of text, I would not have caught so many of the cognates. To test this, I opened a short French lesson here at LingQ. I opened lesson 2 of the 'Getting Started' course. First I listened to it and tried to identify cognates. I got these
- comparable, significant, new, phrase, problem, lesson, lecture, comprehend
Then I read through the text and got these
- lesson, interest, début, comprehend, regarding, significant, novel, phrases, problem, lecture, language
I don't know how correct these are. I was certainly not sure of a lot of them. The text for the lesson is below.
Choisissez une leçon facile pour vous.
Choisissez une leçon qui vous intéresse.
Lisez la leçon.
Ecoutez la leçon.
Au début vous ne comprenez pas.
Regardez la signification des nouveaux mots et nouvelles phrases.
Vous les oublierez. Ce n'est pas un problème.
Ecoutez plusieurs fois la leçon.
Lisez plusieurs fois la leçon.
Ecoutez plusieurs fois sur votre lecteur MP3.
Vous ne comprendrez que peu de choses.
Vous comprendrez bientôt plus.
Un jour, vous parlerez la langue.July 2013
AdministratorCanadaI don't understand what point you are trying to make Colin. If you study French the LingQ way, your "known words" count will grow, and will be a good indicator of your progress, as long as you read, listen and LingQ. If you stay the course you will learn French, and you will have learned a bunch of French words, many of which are cognates from English even if you don't recognize them as such at first. If you try to study a list of cognates you will achieve little. If you learn through interesting content, starting with some basic beginner lessons, and occasionally referring to grammar sources, you will learn.July 2013
ModeratorUnited KingdomI was not trying to make any point with those posts. I was just interested in how many cognates I could recognise from French and then how this differs depending on whether I listen to it or read it.July 2013
United StatesInstead of creating a new post, I thought that I would post on this thread (though it is an old thread). When we define Known words as those we indicate as same on our stats , are we defining known words as those we know via reading the text ...or as those we know the meaning of when spoken. I ask, because for me it is far easier to understand the written word than one spoken in the course of normal speed speech. I previously would only mark a word as known when I could understand the meaning when picking it up in a dialogue(and of source being able to recognize it in the course of same dialogue) . However recently I've begun marking them as known words if i can look at the written word and know or guess the meaning. Thanks !February 2014
United StatesI just joined this site to comment on this thread. ^^ I started studying a vocabulary list off Memrise and I'm learning about 35 words a day. ^^ I think it depends on your dedication to learning the words and if your target language and mother language are similar. My target language is Korean and my goal is to finish the list in three months. ^^ That's 1516 words. ^^ I'm confident I can do it and so far it hasn't been difficult for me. So I think havingstrong motivation and a reason to learn the words will allow you to learn and recall them more easily. Best of luck everyone~! ^^March 2014
AdministratorCanadaWhat are you doing besides studying words on memrise?March 2014
United StatesWhat am I doing on memrise aside from memorizing? Absolutely nothing. ^^ I only joined because I needed a way to learn more words quickly and keep track of what I've studied. It works for me so I don't see a reason to complain about it. I have only been a member of this site for maybe an hour so I neither feel qualified to compare the sites nor compelled to. ^^ If you asked because you wanted a comparison that is. ~March 2014
AdministratorCanadaIt is just that I have put quite a bit of time into Korean, mostly listening and reading here at LingQ. I know a lot of words, but I am a long way from understanding the things that I want to understand and from being able to say what I want to say. However, I am now able to study interesting content. I doubt that just studying lists of words is going to help you as much as actually engaging with Korean content. But to each his own.March 2014
United StatesOh I see the point you're trying to make. ^^ I agree with you that learning words alone won't result in language proficency. ^^ It's good that LingQ has proved a valuable resource to you. I will be lucky to have a similar experience.^^ Until then, I am studying grammar and talking with native speakers regularly enough to feel like I'm making substantial progress too. :D I also think it's great that you are learning Korean. It's a beautiful language and I think the day that we recognize that we have reached our desired proficency in Korean, we will be more than satisfied with all the hard work we put into studying it. 힘내요~ ^^ 화이팅!March 2014
SwitzerlandI'm not sure learning words like this really "learns" them. A few years ago I used to do this cramming approach with Italian, using spreadsheets with thousands of words on, spending dozens of hours trying to force them into my brain. It just didn't really work very well; it was very artificial and the words I did learn I forgot again quickly unless I kept on reviewing them (which eventually became too boring).
In my view you need the context, and the same words and phrases in different contexts. Lots of them over lots of input over lots of time. And they sink in... gradually.March 2014
Switzerland"A rising tide lifts all boats" (old English proverb)March 2014
United StatesTo Jamie~
Well it's good that you shared your experience because a lot of people will do nothing but "memorize" words in their short term memory and I guess, harshly said, waste their time because it's artificial.
Personally, I don't merely do the once over on a word and then post myself as having memorized it. I review all the words I learn consistently. Also, for myself and in my experience, I think having to habitually for Drama productions and English tests on short notice in highschool has short of just trained me to be able to mass memorize things in a small amount of time. I also have confidence that this method doesn't prove to be artificial, as I can still recall accurately many of the words and lines. Granted it's not all of the words but I think an 80% recall long term is enough for myself.
And now you may try to point out that you think "this doesn't provide the word in context" and "memorizing lists not only misrepresent the words or partially represent them, but it's boring." I realize this is the case for some people, but in my personality I am a very thorough person and I took note of that when I created my "curriculum". Since creating it, I have adjusted it to cover all the aspects of the Korean language I deem necessary (and see on their requirements) to pass a Korean Placement test into the more advanced but still beginner's class in College. I truly appreciate the way I study and I don't find it boring in the least.
As for your proverb, I'm presuming you posted it because you felt I should look at it. Maybe it's not the way you understand it yourself or how you want me to interpret it but I agree. I think a rising tide will lift all the boats. ^^ I think one person's positive experience and encouragement, especially with a task as difficult as language learning, can help lift up the confidence and motivation of other people, the exact motive for my initial comment.March 2014
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ kitkat
We discussed Memrise on this thread a while ago.
I don't like to rely on flashcards for memorisation for the reason I explained at that time. I wrote
"I started using Anki at the end of November last year, and until about mid-January, I was learning huge amounts of vocabulary on Anki. I was making my own Anki deck and when I stopped using it in January, I had 1200 words in it, with about 70% at the 'mature' stage. The reason I stopped was partly because I started using LingQ, and partly because I found that I was not really learning words in the way that I wanted with Anki. What I found was that when I learned a word with Anki, what I really did was I learned the word *in Anki*. By that I mean that I was able to produce the word, and understand the word, *when I was using Anki*. But the moment I came across the word outside of Anki or I wanted to use the word outside of Anki, my mind was a blank. I essentially ended up with three vocabularies: an active vocabulary, a passive vocabulary, and an Anki vocabulary."
However, I still quite like using Anki as a secondary vocabulary learning tool.March 2014
I agree with you. Learning words through flashcards, for me at least, allows me to know the meaning of a word in that context...written down as a single word or in other cases written down as a short phrase (mainly only in context of doing flashcards..not so much in literature) . It can supplement my learning ; in that if I hear the word again and again in spoken context , It may "ring"a bell, so to speak, and the proverbial light bulb will go off and I will remember the meaning. However after having taken, in the remote past, 4 years of German, and then a year or so of french in a classroom context and memorizing many words, to only be very deficient in listening and speaking ability..well let's say it makes me look askance at simply using flashcards for learning how to understand and speak a non native language.March 2014
That's an interesting observation, not dissimilar to my own experience. I too felt I had a "spreadsheet" vocabulary which didn't really work outside this domain.
You are new to LingQ. If you stay here (and I hope you do) you'll find that, on this forum, people disagree about various things, language related and otherwise - that is the nature of intelligent, robust discussion... you shouldn't take it personally, but accept that people can chip in with their own views and experiences without necessarily trampling over yours.March 2014
SwitzerlandBy the way, the proverb wasn't inserted because I felt you should look at it. It just mirrors my own experience of language learning. I will explain the meaning if you like.March 2014
Okay, I see what you mean. I apologize for taking your comment to offense. :o Also, I'm interested in what the proverb means to you. ^^ So please explain it if you want to. ^^March 2014
ModeratorUnited KingdomTalking about different ways of learning vocabulary, there is in fact a guy who posts on the forum here under the name lovelanguages who likes to learn vocabulary by eating multilanguage dictionaries for dinner. It sounds crazy, but apparently it works. Usually he stirs them into his soup or grates them over his pasta, but I have heard that he sometimes just eats them raw with a knife and fork.March 2014
ModeratorUnited Kingdom@ ColinJohnstone: Are "Rohkost" dictionaries "urban dictionaries", to add lots of roughage to the language???March 2014
ModeratorUnited KingdomIt is good to have a balanced diet.March 2014
Die Schweizer Schokolade darf bei der Unterstützung des Lernprozesses nicht vergessen werden!
Dank dem hohen Serotoningehaltes ein Wundermittel!
Serotonin wird auch Glückshormon genannt!
ModeratorUnited KingdomJolanda likes to mix LingQs into her fondue. They are the same colour as the cheese, so one can hardly notice them.March 2014
SpainI agree with Steve, I the best method to learn now words ls reading and listening. For me to study memorising flash cards is boring. I remember words when I find many time the same word in different sites, when I read what interests me.
IndiaIt depends. For an easier language, I could easily do 500-700 in a week. In a harder language.March 2014
SpainYes, you're right, the difficulty depends on each language. For me are easier the Romance Languages, the vocabulary is very similar.March 2014