Can You Speak a Foreign Language With 400 Words?

Last week the polyglot, Richard Simcott tweeted asking his followers how far they thought they could get with 400 words in their target language. This prompted me to write a blog based on my experience of travelling to Taiwan two years ago with around 400 Mandarin words under my belt. Let me know what your experiences have been :slight_smile:

: Can You Speak A Foreign Language With 400 Words? – I'm Learning Mandarin


Expect a language guide coming out soon along the same lines of “Speak from Day 1”.
Those are just 16 words :slight_smile:

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You can start trying to speak your target language even wirth only 100 words, but for a real conversation you have to know well 2000-3000 words.
What I mean ‘well’? It means not only to understand but also to use them actively.

Agree. The exact number is hard to say because it’s not clear how a ‘word’ is defined, especially in a language with characters like Mandarin. But it’s definately in the thousands. Unfortunately many people starting out don’t realise this. When I started learning Chinese, a few hundred words seemed like a huge amount. I learned the hard way on my trip to Taiwan how limited your interactions with natives are with a limited vocabulary.

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