10K vs 20K vs 30K vs 40K+ differences

Is there anyone here on lingQ that could describe their reading level in each of these known words milestones on LingQ? (for Romance languages and Germanic languages)
I think the milestones in Slavic languages would have much higher numbers.


What are you looking for in “reading level”? I passed 10K in German 2-3 months ago. At that stage I can read most things on Nachrichtenleicht without looking up much (basically usually less than a handful of words). Normal news sites still pretty difficult (usually 20-25% new words). Harry Potter first book there’s a fair amount of new words–15-20% new words per “LingQ” chapter (which is 2200 words or so). I can understand a decent amount but there are definitely parts where I wouldn’t know specifically what’s going on without the help of LingQ.

Or are you looking for A1, A2, B1, etc.?

In that case I don’t know…but I do read the green articles in Deutsch Perfekt magazine pretty well which they list at A2. The orange articles I can read but a bit more difficult, but I’d say easier than the normal news sites. There are definitely spots where I’m probably not getting the complete gist of the article, but I think I do pretty well and understand the orange articles overall. They list orange as B1. Red articles they list as B2-C2 which is a pretty wide range. I can read some of it, but again, less of it is understood due to many unkown words.

I just recently acheived Intermediate 2 on LingQ

10K - I think a person has built a foundation in the language. However still tons of words that you don’t know yet. The language is starting to become more comfortable. LingQ is your best friend.
20K - Strongish foundation in the language. Understanding a lot. but still heavily reliant upon lingQ.
30K - Solid foundation in the language. Can understand most things they come across, but still get tripped up on unknown words. verily comfortable in the language but still sees a lot of room for improvement. not nearly as reliant on LingQ.
40K - Can read very fluently. Still unknown words here and there depending on the subject. But overall a solid reader.

Would you all agree with this? What would you change to this? ^^^


Yes, I would agree with that. However, after 20,000 I think it was pretty strong, stronger than strongish–at least for Spanish.


Definitely also depends on the language. If the language is like Turkish with a bunch of conjugations, then 20 forms of the same word could all be considered different words.

From my experience, I was reasonably comfortable with Japanese (even without Lingq) at 20k but even with extensive vocabulary, it’s sometimes difficult to capture the overall meaning of complex and long sentences, especially considering the vastly different sentence structures.

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I feel that at 40K in Romance languages I can well and understand everything well. I have typically somewhere between 20-35 unknown words but they tend to be very rear words that only native speakers would now. Or words of a obscure tense or something like that.

I could say the same think of German but I feel that being a native Swedish speaker I’m biased.

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Though we’ve both made similar comments in the past, I can say that, having just hit 44K today, it’s still true.

In my experience … it varies. I have 31-32K known words in both Spanish and Portuguese. In Spanish I can read and enjoy adult-level novels without LingQ or other support. In Portuguese I can’t do that yet.


I would say at 20k you should feel comfortable reading but still with lots of vocabulary gaps. At 40k you should be able to read with very few issues, there will be unknown vocabulary and phrases still, but few enough to not inhibit your comprehension really. There will always be more unknown words (I’m at 60k and I will still encounter some when reading novels), but in my eyes 40k is a decent indication that you’re a strong reader.


I’ve done some experimenting in the past and found that LingQ’s level system based on the known word count has some good correlation to the minimum requirements for CEFR levels – meaning, if you clear Intermediate 2 you’d be kind of in the ballpark for a B2 comprehension level, and Advanced 2 would be the threshold for C2 comprehension etc.

I think once you clear Advanced 2 is when unassisted reading becomes possible / comfortable, which is really my main goal. Everything before that is just about gradually increasing comfort.


It really depends on how much you knew before you began with LingQ. When you already know a language quite well, or know related languages well then in the beginning it´s more like LingQ is learning which words you know, as opposed to you learning words through LingQ. This will fade away more and more as you progress though, obviously. I think generally (and I remember Steve making the same estimate on one of they youtube videos with LingQ users) you reach pretty good reading fluency at 40K.

I can tell you my experience, but it´s very skewed because of the two things I mentioned. I was already fluent in Icelandic, English, Danish, Swedish and German when I started last November and could read simple books in French with pretty good understanding. I feel I was beginning to be fluently literate in French at around 20K words, I would say I was decently fluent at 30K and almost completely fluent 40K (it´s only really if texts are quite complex or poetic or it´s on subjects I know little about that I struggle somewhat). With Dutch, I´m not sure but I felt it was probably somewhere between 10-20K that I became decently fluent. With Norwegian, I was fluent to begin with, just through my understanding of my other Nordic languages.

So if I´d start with a new language, say Spanish, I think I´d reach fairly fluent at around 30-40K. A completely alien language, a slavic or asian one for example, it depends on the vocabulary, number of conjugations, declensions and composite words, but if these were similar to my other languages, I´d guess it would be around 40K.


10K - I don’t remember much but I was reading A1 and A2 readers easily. Books were too hard and reading the same lessons over and over was getting very boring.
20K - I started reading The Hobbit, a book I knew well in English. It was a struggle, but I could complete three or four lessons (2000 words) in an hour.

News articles were easier. I was able to watch videos with French subtitles, which changed everything. Reading was no longer a chore. I could watch nature documentaries and pick up so much from the visuals. It wasn’t hard to figure out what une baleine meant when there was one jumping out of the water!

30K - I can read transcripts of conversations very easily as they nearly always use common words. I found several books that were transcriptions of conversations and they were very easy to read. Good public speakers use very common language so I always look for books of speeches and that kind of thing.

I can read some books on my kindle without LingQ provided I’m familiar with the writer’s style. JRR Tolkien is quite easy for me, but I struggle more with Alexander Dumas

I can read non-fiction books if they’re not too technical. I am reading Max Gallo’s Napoleon biography and finding it very enjoyable.

32K - I am here now, still struggle with literature. I will stay reading non-fiction and update this at 40K. I’m expecting literature to be much easier by then.


I’ll be eagerly awaiting this. So far, that has been experience with Spanish since crossing the 40K mark, and I remember years ago someone telling me that the 40-45K would be more likely the threshold for linqless novel reading. I noticed it being a lot better when I check with La Sombra del Viento, but I have not really tried since then. I will check again and report back as well.

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I think fluent reading makes fluent listening possible. If you are a fluent reader and a fluent listener, than fluent speaking is at the door.


Yes, sir. I have noticed this in my own experience.

And even Master Steve has said that he has yet to encounter someone who can truly “read well” but not speak at least decently.