At what word count were you literally fluent? [Korean]

I was just curious for those of you that have moved on past lingq for Korean what your word counts were when you started feeling like you didn’t need lingq (or a dictionary even) anymore for reading. Other languages are of course more than welcome to share, I’m very curious about this matter!


Though I wouldn’t call myself fluent yet I have some input:
Here’s what I could gather from the forums of people who have gone further than me in Russian I’m currently at 40k know words. Also Russian is case based like Korean so they should have similar numbers.

If you want to be fluent in every thing. Then probably +150k. This number is just made up, but I’ve heard of people who have 100 - 150k known words and still stumble upon a lot of unknown words.

If you focus on one type of content, i.e. Drama shows, well then that number is going to fall a lot.
Around 40 - 50k seems to be where content starts to get fluent to take in if you just focused on one aspect of the language.

But then if you are talking about fluent in the output sense. Well then I’d say you’d need to add on top of those numbers countless hours of talking with natives and writing. Maybe around 100 - 200 hours of speaking to be very fluent.
But again if you just talk about the same stuff again and again it’s a lot less. :wink:

So pretty hard to give a concrete anwser.


8Im going to take a hypothetical guess for some ball park numbers.
The romance language numbers are pretty accurate with 40k words
Spanish for example has
Nouns 2
Adjs 2-4
Verbs 42 (without pronouns using -aís and -ase subj) so for simplicity say 60

Korean has tons of potential forms so the more you read the more you will run into
Nouns 20ish common ones but way more (combinations inflate this as well) + contractions
Adjs 150-200 common ones. (500ish)
Verbs 150-200 common ones (600ish)
A quote from a website that describes korean grammar contributions were added
Thanks to Mark Bailey from Japan and Prof. Alexander Arguelles for their kind contributions to this section!

“Korean conjugation is very complex, with every verb having more than 600 possible different endings depending on degree of politeness, age and seniority. Most learners concentrate one one standard textbook politeness form.
Korean adjectives are also conjugated, with more than 500 possible endings.”

Also through some experimentation Korean was the most inflected language ive seen and I used georgian/finnish/turkish/russian (to compare as they are extremely inflected as well) when it comes to lingq words I am very curious the number it would take to cover most texts in korean between its hundreds of conjugations, lax pacing rules, and different spellings of words (that are acceptable, oh and contractions as well.
My guess would be 1.5-2x Russian based on some co-efficients I recieved from imports.


Well actually I was talking about reading specifically in my post but interesting response nonetheless

I have almost 44,000 words in Italian and have read at least a dozen great novels and I’m not yet a fluent reader. I still need Lingq. And by the way, after reading these posts, I’ll put Korean on my list of languages, like Finnish and Chinese, that are just two daunting to learn. 600 verb endings, yikes!!

Haha yeah guess I just responded to the title. :smiley:
But for reading once again it really depends. What do you want to read, and how long have you focused on that specific genre.
I’m starting to hit <5% on books now with 40k russian words. and it’s feeling like I’m fluent, in the sense that I can read a book without stopping to look up stuff and still get what’s going on plus most of the details.
But if you want that native like fluency I guess you’d exponential more words to only stumble upon unknown words once in a while. Again I think 100 - 150k is a good goal to set for reading fluency. :slight_smile:

Not learning Korean (yet) but I’m learning Japanese. 13K words thus far…not close to being fluent (as in, able to converse freely about topics that I’m interested in, read paperback books, voicing opinions). So…in saying that, my guess would be once I reach 50K I’d be able to do such things. Although, I don’t think the word count is a great measurement. The time spent reading and listening is.

In saying all that, I’m conversational and read light novels in Japanese.

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Hey TerraEarth, I’m still using LingQ quite a bit at my word count, but I don’t necessarily need it for reading. It mostly depends on what kind of genre I’m looking at. For example, I started reading the Harry Potter translations here on LingQ at around 70k words, and by the end of the fifth book I was at around 95k words and probably didn’t need to use LingQ in order to finish the series. Currently, I’m reading some light novels (어세 오세요 실력지장주의 교실에), original in Japanese, and I’m on book 10. The number of new unknown words is generally less than 130 per lesson now, but much of this is due to the forms of words rather than actual unknown word encounters. I could probably read without a dictionary more often, but slowing down the reading speed with LingQ generally helps my comprehension. If fluency development is the end goal for you, I think it’s important to start reading without a dictionary. I probably need to start doing more of this as well. It takes time to get your reading speed up, and unknown vocabulary literally makes your eyes focus on words for longer periods of time, so it’s a bit of a problem on both sides. If my friends send me text messages in Korean, I generally don’t need to look anything up and I can usually read texts without paying specific attention to certain words. I have also read entire novels without dictionaries, and I think my reading speed generally goes up as I progress through the novels and figure out the repeated vocabulary. The same goes for many webtoon series. I’d recommend mixing LingQ with extensive reading, but try to read slightly easier content without LingQ if possible.