26,000 words... finally getting somewhere

Hi everyone,

I’ve just crossed the 26k word mark in French, and today I picked up a book by the famous André Gide and feel fairly comfortable reading it, even though I don’t recognize a decent amount of words. I think I had been reading solely on Lingq for the past few months and acquired like 8k words so I noticed a big difference compared to reading a book from before. My goal is to use Lingq for French until I can understand like 98-99% of the words, basically enough to where I can infer the unknown words by context, and then I’ll maybe focus on Spanish on Lingq (truly the best way to learn languages).

I’m thinking that I continue more or less on this route until I get to 40-50k words, then shift more over to the physical French novels I have. For those that have experience in French or similar languages, is this the path you took?


I think you should be fairly comfortable with real life every day conversation now no? I will just say one thing though - don’t neglect real life conversation. I was out today and someone shouted something at me and i had no idea, even after he repeated it, what he was saying. When it’s just fired at you you need pretty good listening skills in French.

You’re absolutely right. Understanding general conversation isn’t much of a problem (unless really fast and slurred together which happens from time to time) but I don’t have a chance to speak a lot. I should book some tutoring sessions for that.

I’m just over 31k now and enjoy reading both on my Kindle and in real books. I still have to look words up from time to time, but I can generally guess the meaning without resorting to a dictionary. Having said that, I still occasionally come across a sentence or two where I understand all the words but have no idea why they are in that order and what it means. C’est une aventure sans fin !

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Congrats! I’m at around 30,000 words in Spanish and I can comfortably read adolescent and even adult books. Sure, there are still words I don’t know, but they don’t stop me from following the story, enjoying it, recognising good writing, etc. The next step, as Drew said, is to take these written receptive skills and turn them into oral receptive+productive skills. Based on other people claiming here things like 10,000 words = fluency, I feel that my spoken Spanish is ‘behind’ where it should be for the number of words I ‘know’.

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Are you mainly doing just reading, or are you also listening along with audiobooks? I think audiobooks and passive listening to podcasts make an enormous difference as to how you can pick up rapid fire, real life conversations. Audiobooks will often involve various characters speaking various flavors of the language, slang, etc. and podcasts will often involve fast and heated discussions about current events.


Congratulations. I don’t know if this estimative of 98-99% is reasonable though. I always have to look up the meaning of words, even in my native language. Well, I think that’s pretty normal. But with 26k you must be comfortable reading in french, that’s actually what I aim for.
I have a question: When you watch a movie, how much can you understand?

Good point, the 98-99% was a bit too high of a goal because like you said I probably understand that much in terms of reading books in English haha.

Reading has definitely gotten easier. As for the movies, it depends. Old movies with poor sound quality is way more difficult than a new movie, but at the end of the day I want to be able the language in all situations haha. I can understand youtube videos pretty easily, but I do need to make a point of listening more, and be a little more consistent. I can understand pretty much all the vocabulary that people use in movies and general dialogue, just need to train the ears to pick things up faster.

I also think its really cool that you’ve learned a little Latin. That’s something I’d like to try down the road. :slight_smile:

Very true, I need to pick up some audiobooks. Right now I just rely on youtube and movies and while my listening has definitely improved nothing beats having the dialogue on paper while you’re listening to it. I’m following along with French political news and agree that the discussions are quite fast haha. Thanks for the tip, also your stats are really impressive! I imagine Korean is a real challenge.

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Yeah, I come across those too, I try to write those down in a little notebook. That’s awesome, you also seem to have many Lingqs also so your passive knowledge must be super high. I’ve been meaning to ask: which Camus book is your favorite?

I do need to get the speaking going, I’m having so much fun reading and listening that I forget that I’ll need to produce the language too haha. Thanks for the response, and wow your Italian stats look real good along with your Spanish!

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I like the lyrical essays in Noces & L’été, but they’re pretty slow going in French.

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I study latin at the university, I actually am a student of Brazillian literature and Portuguese language as well as Latin language and literature, so I was only checking up if it’s useful. I’m pretty sure I could explain better with minor and major, but it’s not exactly correspondent. ahhahahaha

I wish i get at your level in french soon. May I ask how long have you been studying?

Thanks! Yes, Korean is definitely harder, but I’m wading through it :slight_smile:

Thanks! I’m going to Italy on Wednesday, so we’ll see how ‘real good’ I am :stuck_out_tongue: For the first few days we’re staying with an Italian friend who speaks English better than my wife and I speak Italian, but who insists on speaking Italian when we’re in Italy! So that’ll be a great way to get right back into the deep end.

Yeah general conversation isn’t so hard but i find i struggle when questions are fired at me. They are rarely constructed using the same verbs/syntax as we find online and it’s hard to find material to study it.

I was trying to put a window on a trolley, and the guy was asking if i needed him to go and get me a better trolley, but his slurred and rapid-fire speech made it incomprehensible to me. Written down i would have gotten it but i had no chance and he ended up asking me in English. Big fail. I should have asked him to slow it down.

Especially on Lingq.

Korean google translate should be renamed
“word salad generator”.

I kept getting befuddled by the 간, which kept separately in sentence kept translating as “liver” to my confusing. It took me a long time before realizing that it was just the nominalized 가다, since lingq counted 간 as a separate word

Having said that, it is still manageable enough at this level, especially as I improve the grammar. How does 18k feel for you in terms of understanding conversations? Steve seemed to be still struggling a bit at 40k+

Try Un Gars Une Fille or some Studio Bagel stuff on youtube for a real workout. They speak so fast, so slurred, i can only understand a tiny amount of any of it. Even with transcript it’s so difficult to see how they can do things like make ‘Ça se voit tant que ça?’ sound like ‘Ça’soi’t’nq’ça’.

That reminds me of something that happened to me while driving from Québec City to Montréal. I had pulled into a gas station and was filling up my rental car when suddenly there was this old French guy shouting something at me I couldn’t understand at all. My first response was a panicked “Desolé, je suis anglais” but he kept coming at me with more French, none of which I could understand. Anyway, once I calmed down and realized there was no easy way out of the situation, I started understanding him enough to realize that he was concerned that I was filling up the Volkswagen with regular gas, not diesel. So, I explained to him, in truly horrible French, that the car didn’t have a diesel engine. It felt awful at the time, but I was pretty elated afterwards that I’d managed to succeed … even if it wasn’t a pretty win.