I’m in Polish and mine is really confusing. Before the change, I lacked about 4,300 words to level up. When I looked on my phone last night, that had dropped to a mere 300 words. But when I looked at it just now, on the computer, the known word goal (at the bottom)–which is all I see on mobile–still shows me needing just 300 more words to reach my goal, but the top bar, which counts what’s left to the next level, says I need another 10,500 words.
Based on what I’ve researched, to be at a solid B2 level (which should be roughly Intermediate 2 on LingQ), I would need between 8,000 and 14,500 words based on the way LingQ counts them. 10,200 would be within this estimate, but 20,400 words would be WAY beyond a B2 level. In fact, that would be on par with a native speaker with only a high school education.
LingQ counts words very generously. Although I am currently at ~75,000 words known for Polish, I can assure you I am very very far away from having anywhere close to the vocab of a native speaker.
Based on my own experience, I would have estimated myself at B2 closer to 35,000-40,000 known words for Polish. I would personally lean closer to LingQ’s current estimation and even think it is a bit on the generous side.
“Based on what I’ve researched, to be at a solid B2 level (which should be roughly Intermediate 2 on LingQ), I would need between 8,000 and 14,500 words based on the way LingQ counts them.”
I’m always amazed when learners come up with “certainties” about the vocabulary size in their L2s, even though the conventional wisdom in SLA research says just the opposite.
See, for example:
“There is no standard testing method for calculating vocabulary size and the absence of this goes a long way to explain the enormous variation in the vocabulary size estimates and rates of progress among English speaking monolinguals which are reported. A principal cause of variation is how the words being counted are defined: should every different form and meaning of a word be counted separately, or should base or root words be counted together with inflections and derivations as a single lemma or word family.” (page 4 in: https://centaur.reading.ac.uk/29879/2/vocabulary%20size%20revisited_JM_JTD.pdf)
“to be at a solid B2 level (which should be roughly Intermediate 2 on LingQ), I would need between 8,000 and 14,500 words”
Hm, what I’ve seen in my own LingQ stats for Indo-European languages and those of others (Toby & Co.), you should be in the range of 50-70k words in the way LingQ counts them to be on a B2-C1 level (= roughly 2.5 - 3 million words read). And that’s a “solid” B2 in my SLA book…
This means for L2s such as Germanic languages:
take your current LingQ word count
divide it by ca. 5
→ 50k words on LingQ : 5 = ca. 10k words = your “solid” B2 level.
Polish is another Indo-European language and should therefore be in a similar vocabulary range. It may be different forNon-Indo-European languages, though.
If you want “real life B2 tests in your L2”, here are my current favorites:
If you can read / listen to Stephen King’s “It” (with ca. 500k words) without any difficulties, then your reading / listening comprehension should be on a solid B2 level.
If you can participate in a conversation with several native speakers in a restaurant/bar for ca. 1 h despite the fast pace, sloppy pronunciation, slang, humor, and background noise, then you can consider yourself fluent in your L2 - it’s nice that, for ex., Oly Richards came to a similar conclusion
I don’t know if LingQ is your only L2 resource and how experienced you were in Polish when you started it on LingQ, butif LingQ is your first and only SLA resource, then you are far from a solid B2 level with only ca. 300k words read…
I second that. With now almost 33k known words with a rather strict approach of trying to ignore proper names and misspellings (there are a lot in Polish texts) I feel that my overall skills hover around a solid B2 level. Low B2 for speaking and writing and a solid B2 for reading and listening.
The corresponding word count is more a symptom than an indicator.
I think in the way LingQ used to count then, Advanced 1 was roughly equivalent to B2. 15,000 words as LingQ estimates it is absolutely not close to B2, especially for Slavic languages with declensions. I think the way that they’ve updated it (~50k words for advanced 2 in Russian) is a much better approximating for C1/2, probably more like C1.
i think the issue is that known words is no way to measure actual proficiency; lingq uses it more as a way to estimate how much word count is likely to reflect a level of reading and engagement you’ve done with the language. its like warren buffet says about book value–it only shows up after the fact/is always trailing behind the actual accumulating value of a growing company, but is the next best thing to measure something in velocity
I looked at my Spanish (40K) and Italian (28K) and they both still show Advanced 2 and Advanced 1, respectively.
I do agree that the bar for Advanced 2 was somewhat low. I feel you generally get to fluent literacy at around 40-50K known words. It is only right for LingQ to raise the bars a bit.
In the past I have fallen into the trap of competitively trying to get as many known words as possible, without paying the proper attention to listening, writing and speaking, so I advise against obsessing with the word count at the cost of other aspects of learning. You can certainly get to 60K-80K known words or even higher and still be far, far from being fluent in the language. All this means is you have a great passive vocabulary while reading. Your understanding of spoken language, your ability to spell, put sentences together, let alone speak, might still be really limited. Now you can certainly take that large passive vocabulary, if it is only from reading and use it as a springboard to learn listening, speaking and writing quite fast, but until you do, it is just what it is.
Thank you for this post. I’m just starting out in Spanish, at around 2800 known words. So would you say that getting to 40k known words while taking time to regularly practice speaking and conversing should get me to B2?
It is possible, but it depends mostly on how much you converse and how willing you are to push yourself in the conversations. If you just keep talking about extremely simple things and never step up the complexity of the subjects, you are likely to stagnate. It also depends on your own language learning talent.
I think just regular conversation can get a person to and past B2, if done for long enough or if you are immersed enough and 40K known words in LingQ does give you a big enough vocabualry IMO that it would make you at least near fluent if turned into active vocabulary with fair knowledge of grammar.
i think it is possible to get to an extremely high level even heavily preferencing reading i cant speak for myself but ive seen it in others, or at least a level where adding on listening comprehension and speaking is massively discounted–the issue is reading for the word count rather than letting that add up passively. sometimes i fall into the trap of of focusing too much on the words and not the content, whenever i get swept back up into the actual text the value (and word count itself incidentally) goes up massively