German 50k

Just reached an important milestone - 50.000 known words in German.

Some thoughts:

  1. There’s no plateau (for passive vocabulary). My wordcount keeps rising, I do not see the flattening of the curve. Better yet: now I learn more words/month than 6 or 12 months ago. It gets easier along the way. I see people on the leaderboard with 70-100-200k known words and that gets me excited - there’s so much more to learn and to read to get better! There’s no plateau.
  2. Two months ago I started to consume all audios/videos at 1.50-1.75x speed in all my languages to increase content density and to train comprehension. Today 1.00x is boring! Sometimes I go to 1.25x for complex topics, but 1.00x is too slow now.
  3. Reread or collect breadcrumbs. Yes, skimming through familiar text to collect the known words among LingQs is a good practice, when you do not have the time for a proper reread.
  4. German is too distant from Russian compared to Romance languages. I’m glad it’s my 3rd foreign language. I would’ve never persevered, if it was my 2nd or 1st.
  5. German is the language that gives me no goosebumps, even though I enjoy it. I just never felt that excitement that Italian or French provide. I enjoy the struggle, so to speak.
  6. If you must choose between studying for 15 min/day or 2 hours on the weekend, chose 2 hours/day! Free time is everywhere: commute, chores, getting up earlier, eating… Nothing beats time, not talent, not super learning strategy.
  7. I never do exercises. Maybe for this reason the number of unknown words (active LingQs) is 13.000 or about 1:4 to the known words.
  8. I’ve read 2.000.000 words. This means that the ratio is 40:1 for the read/known words. Does anyone have any idea if for other languages the ratio is similar?

Looking forward to 60.000 words.

9. There’s no need to work on an accent. It gets better by itself if you listen a lot, sometimes read outloud and speak with natives.

Edit 2 on 10.05.2021 after reaching 100 000 known words.
10. There’s still no plateau and I can find some texts with 20-25% unknown words if the topic is unknown. Usually the texts have from 2 to 15% unknown words.
11. Maximum words learned in a single month: 7922.
12. I learned 50 000 words in less than a year, but I could’ve learned even 60 000, if I were more diligent from February till May. It’s incredible what can be done in a single year.
13. Maximum words read a single month: 392 000 or 1560 pages.
14. Total words read: 4 200 000 or 16 800 pages. The ratio is 42:1 for read/known words, 1 year ago it was 40:1.
15. Maximum audio consumed in a single month: 120 hours.
16. The number of unknown LingQs has doubled to 25 000 and as before the ratio is 1:4 to the known words.
17. I stopped rereading texts.
18. Total money spent on tutors: $2500 for 220 lessons or 170 hours since October 2018.
19. Listening C1, Reading C1, Speaking B2, Writing B1.
Listening is effortless; Reading is almost effortless; Speaking is plagued with stuttering and mistakes, but I do not care; Writing will make your eyes bleed.


Congratulations and thanks for an interesting post. I’m also learning German, although nowhere near 50k (approaching 6000 words). I’m pretty much using the same method as you are, and I feel the same way about German :slight_smile:


As you say, there is a huge difference between passive and active vocabulary. Many words that I know in context, I would never be able to produce in speech. Also, I wish LingQ didn’t count each different conjugation of the verb as a separate “known” word. I could really boost my word-count by uploading some conjugation tables. LOL


You are a big inspiration for us. If you can do it, then everyone can do it. We all have 24 hours in a day. So no excuses. Could you share your journey for German language? How did you start off? How did you get your hands dirty? How long have you been learning the German language? How many hours did you spend on a daily basis? Anything you would like to share… Thanks


It is the same with every language. Our passive vocabulary is larger than active vocabulary. However, with passive vocabulary you can cherish wonderful literature and enjoy complex conversations. I know some people are very fluent with their limited vocabulary however they can not enjoy the same wonderful literature with limited vocabulary and avoid reading books altogether.



Congratulations! It’s always interesting to see how people with similar approaches have similar experiences and results. The ballpark of 2 million words for 50K is pretty much how it went for me with German. And as you said, there’s no such thing as a plateau, with the reading method.

With other languages, I think the ratio of words read / known is different, just because German has so many compound words. After about 45K, most of the stuff I was encountering in German were compound words. French is different for me, I’m closing in on 40K after 2.1 million read.


I learn since July 2018 and I use LingQ for German since February 2019.
The minimum is 2 hours a day (with few exceptions when I am too busy). I started learning with Duolingo, Anki, and Deutsche Welle, then Italki lessons after 3 months and usuccessful attempts to watch movies/tv series. In Jan 2019 I noticed that I do not progress past A2: not what I expected after learning Italian to B1+ in 10 months through speaking. I dropped all the useless tools, reduced Italki lessons from 3 to 1.5 hours/week and focused on listening and reading. And I stopped worrying that my speaking is weaker in German than in Italian even though I spent 3-4x more time on learning German.

Podcasts: Everything for A2/B1 level from evgueny40 in the beginning, then EasyGerman Podcast until it gets too easy, Finanzfluss, Der Finanzwesir Rockt, Mach es einfach.

Books: Remarque (Die Nacht von Lissabon, Lieber deinen Nàchsten), Zusak (Die Bùcherdiebin), Exupéry (Der kleine Prinz), Lindgren (Karlsson vom Dach, Karlsson fliegt wieder), Gebruder Grimm (Màrchen).


Really? I checked and I have 3220340 Words of Reading. And 20,000 known words and Term (48054) Lingqs that are not white. I dont count a lot of compounds or genitive words though.

  1. “It gets easier along the way.” I found that true with Russian, my first foreign language. I now recognize lots of roots, the prefixes make intuitive sense, the context is clearer, etc.
  2. Interesting idea. I do that regularly with English and with one or two particularly slow-paced Russian YT channels, but I’ve not tried it broadly with Russian.
  3. It’s curious that you find German farther removed from Russian than Romance languages. I’ve never really studied any of those., though I did have some Latin. Some Latin grammatical concepts certainly are similar to Russian. I’ve just started German (just ~1k words at this writing), and I’ve been surprised by some words that I recognize from Russian, whether borrowed or from a common PIE source: Leute, probieren, etc. On the other hand, while reading German I have been thinking that it must be a challenge for Russians. There are so many little helper words! Why use just one word when three or four, scattered throughout the sentence, will do? )) Also, the role of the words in a sentence doesn’t seem as clear from their form as it does in Russian, though not as bad perhaps as in English. It’s certainly easier to recognized the grammatical gender of Russian words than German.

As a native English speaker who has been studying Russian, German feels like a weird but familiar uncle. I see so many similarities: Familiar verb tenses; similar verb conjugation (if thou knowest what I mean); German separable verbs vis-à-vis English phrasal verbs; lots of cognates; the articles – the blessed, glorious articles: It’s perfectly clear whether it’s a girl or the girl! And so on. I almost pity the native English speaker for whom German is his first foreign language, as he may notice mainly the differences and not appreciate the similarities.


After having done intensive reading and listening for a while, did you go back to attempt to watch TV series in German and how are you coping with it at the moment? Any feedback on this.

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Last week I watched 3 movies to test what I’m capable of. In brackets is the comprehension level in %: Pulp Fiction (95), Ziemlich Beste Freunde (98), Der Pianist (98). All of these movies I saw in Russian in the past. What I did not like is that everything is slow compared to books, audiobooks or podcasts. The content density is low and a lot of the time you just sit and wait for heroes to get from A to B before they start talking. So, I will not use movies to learn, only to have fun and relax.


Thanks for sharing your experience.


Congrats on the milestone and, I have to say, my experience with Spanish has been very similar to what you described above. I have reached about 60k known words in Spanish and I’m still adding known words regularly, so the plateau really hasn’t been a factor yet. I have read about 4,000,000 words in Spanish so the ratio is about 66:1 read/known words, although it is slowing down recently. These days it takes about 20,000 words read to achieve 100 known words, so the ratio is now 200:1, but its still increasing! Can’t wait to chase your stats in German one day


On LingQ the person with the highest amount of known words is around the 200K area.
The person with the highest known words in French is only in the 100K area.
This makes me fee like LingQ’s milestones numbers are off.
To reach Advanced 2 in German on LingQ takes 30,250 Known Words. But French takes 33,200. I wonder how LingQ came up with these numbers to represent milestones.


Extremely inspiring! Well done and thanks for the post. I am currently learning Russian and improving my knowledge of French and German. I have set my words read per day so that I should be at 1.5 million words read in all 3 languages by the end of next year. I am hoping this will get me near to the Advanced 2 stage. I am particularly inspired by how well you understood the films with a vocab of 50k, I will definitely set my sights on this within the next few years.



They’re off. I’ve read or heard somewhere that these 30.250 and 33.200 known words are somewhat arbitrary numbers, since it’s hard to evaluate what is Advanced 2 and how many words in each language are necessary to reach it, but people need targets and these values help.
All of the languages that have declensions/conjugations or other complex features (e.g. compound words) should have higher target value for Advanced 2 (e.g. Italian should have higher set value than English, but lower than German or Russian).
There’s a caveat, though. If LingQ puts a more realistic 120.000 known words target for Advanced 2, how many LingQers will actually reach this level? Lots of people will be demotivated to see how far they should go, so these modest values of 30k words help to get people going, and then they understand that the values are off, but keep working towards their goals.
I understood that the numbers are wrong when I passed Intermediate 2 level and I was nowhere near this level, then I saw Steves video where he says that at 30-35k in German you can start speaking quite comfortably. What I heard him saying was: “Your speaking level will be B1/B2 at 30-35k”. And that’s true for me.


I’d have to disagree with the Advance 2 milestones being off. In my experience, clearing Advanced 2 here on LingQ will put you in the minimum comprehension levels for a C2 exam. It will also allow you to read paper books with manageable ease, and you can start understanding movies without subs around the same time – and movies are usually the hardest thing to comprehend in a language.

I don’t think you need to mark 120,000 words for these. I think if you can read and watch movies without assistance, you’re Advanced 2, everything else is just gravy.

Also, I’m a big fan of Steve, but him saying “Your speaking level will be B1/B2 at 30-35k” – I’d take this with a grain of salt. First off, it’s really hard to tie speaking ability to known word counts alone. Fluency is a combination of comprehension and practice, and 30-35K with a lot of listening and regular speaking practice can easily make you fluent past the B2 level.


Truly? I have a hard time believing this. Now to be fair I only count words that are active and I don’t count a lot of compound words or genitive forms. There is also just other words I do not count and now I am not counting more because I like the number 20,000. I have been doing this for 4 years and just a month ago I was doing 8 to 12 hours a day on linqq for German. I checked and I have 3220340 Words of Reading. And 20,000 known words and Term (48054) Lingqs that are not white. I have classes and such and have long since been able to understand most of what I hear, so it just seems weird.

For me the known words are the ones I recognize. Then I put all the words to known: all conjugations, all compound words, single/plural forms. The exceptions are personal names and places - these I put into Ignored. It means that if I try to count only roots, then my “real” word count could drop into 5.000-7.000 range. Where am I exactly? I cannot evaluate…
You, on the other hand, are very specific in how you choose your known words for this reason your 20.000 could be much closer to your “real” word count.
There’s so much variety in how people could use LingQ that it’s hard to compare results, since we all have our own idea of how to learn the language.