I´ve just watched a video where Steve says that usually he starts to understand good slavic languages after hiting the 40.000 words mark.

I just want to report that it has been like that for me as well. Since 2 years I was trying to listen radio mayak as a background often, but most of time i coulndt follow what they were saying, or the topic or it was so hard.

However since 2 months i feel i can swith on the radio app on my phone, and i can follow everything, of course i dont understand 100% of the words, but 100% of the times i know what they are talking about and i understand the important stuff. And yes, that happened after reaching the 40.000 words mark, just like Steve said.

I´d like to give motivation to all Russian learners outhere,don´t give up, keep working!! after you reach the 40.000 words it gets easier and easier. Now im aiming to 100.000, i guess thats the level you need to get a C1.

good luck


Thank you very much for sharing your experience!
Yes, it makes a lot of sense, 40000 Russian lingq words must be close to the 10000 “word families” which, according to Professor Arguelles is the typical everyday repertoire of educated native speakers. So having about that level of passive vocabulary makes it very likely to understand most “normal” utterances. If you also activate half of that vocabulary, you are about “fluent”. This is my goal for the beginning of next year :slight_smile:
Wish me luck!

By the same token, a bit below 100.000 words would be about equivalent to the 20.000 word-family vocabulary that would allow you to read quality literature without a dictionary.

You gonna get there soon, actually to be fair, i had that “epiphany point” when i had exactly 43.000 words ))
I cant say that i speak as fluently as i´d like, but i understand 80% of any topic, and thats great!! You can listen or watch anything and to get the idea of what they are talking about and whats going on, that means now i could be hours watching Russian Tv and i wouldnt get bored. By the way i just discovered SUBS2SRS and is amazing, makes anki flashcards from your films in the foreigner language. I think in this new chapter of the learning i gonna import mainly subtitles from films and articles from internet.


wow! What word mark would you say the same “magic moment” could happen for Spanish learners? or English learners?

Definitely less than for russian. With russian I keep the same words over and over again in blue but with a different case ending. Like dozens of times it seems. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that it could be as much as half.

I did see a french learner on lingq who felt she had gotten to a high level at around 14,000 words, so I suspect Spanish may be similar.

Even in German, my near 6000 word count gets me to understand drastically more than when I was at 2-3k. Also, once you get to a higher level you start learning words much faster. I can easily learn 100 a day if I put an a good hour or so.


awesome! thanks for that feedback

The reason I stopped at 20k with French, and 10k on Spanish was because I reached a level that I no longer needed to use a dictionary to read books.

However, numbers on LingQ never reflect my true level in those languages, since I stopped actively studying them on LingQ 2 or so years ago, and since have recieved degrees in them.

In Spanish or French, yes 20k is enough to where I believe you could understand a decent amount on the radio, conversations, and daily life.


Until I have reached 40k+ words in Polish, I had my Polish texts almost completely blue of unknown words. It does not mean Polish is any of my main goals, my mother tongue is very close to Polish. I just can confirm 40k or 43k known wods in a Slavic language means a good comprehension. I have stopped learning Czech at a lower number of known words, so I cannot understand this language so easily as I do with Polish. I cannot confirm the theory of 40k known words regarding Ukrainian because this language is much closer to my mother tongues than Polish is. The reason why I still have no 40k is because of the lack of Ukrainian texts on LingQ and because of the lack of available audio with texts to share.
But I must say 27k German words is not yet enough to understand German media as I can do with 40k Polish words. 15k Italian wods is also not enough. It was possile to survive with about 6k known words in Spanish or Italian. But I did not reach yet the “epiphany point” in them.


I think that “epiphany” moment takes place at about 10000 “word families”. Lingq counts word forms so the question is how many word forms correspond to the 10000 word family count.
My estimate is that you need over four times as many word forms in the slavic languages (thus the 40000 threshold) and a bit over half of that for romance languages. So, I’d say you’d need somewhat over 20k Lingq words for Italian and Spanish.

That logic is rather sensible since I listen to one 50 minute Echo Moskvii podcast every day and I “learn” 400 words out of 500 or 600 new words. Understanding is thus only at 60-80% still.

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And for German?

i really dont know for Spanish learners, but all foreigners i met in Lingq who spoke Spanish very good, they all had more than 10.000 words.

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That’s hard to say

How much for Korean?

Ya…for the other Japanese learners out here, how many words did you “learn” until you found yourself at a certain level of comfort with the language!! 知っている単語数はどのぐらい高いまで日本語がペラペラになったのか!<- I don’t know if I wrote that correctly. :stuck_out_tongue:

Based on what I’ve been observing with Steve and his Korean, he still says he has difficulty understanding, even at 40,000 known words.

However, every one is different, some might find it earlier, some later.

If I had to say, I would assume around 40-60,000 words known for Korean would be sufficient, but then again, that’s only if you use LingQ. Outside forces, videos, music, etc, all play a factor in how many known words you need before you feel “at ease” with the langauge.

I’m shooting for 40k in Korean. Once I get there, I’ll decide, but I plan to try and make updates pretty regularly on my progress.

i found scholarly research that connects vocabulary size to the CEFR and to performance on standardized tests like IELTS.

the vocabulary estimates in this thread seem to be roughly similar to the research

My immediate goal is 20k, because I’m starting out with a 1 year spurt. After that I’ll take a 6 month holiday, including 1 month in Korea, then return and do another 1 year spurt. Hope to reach a strong B2 in the end. I assume I’ll have the equivalent of 40k by then.

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Keep in mind lingq counts each variation (conjugation?) as a separate word. I haven’t read your study, but it seems most of them use word families.