How learn vocab, in b2-c1 level?

When you are a beginner, word frequency is helpful for learning vocabulary. However, as you reach the B2-C1 level, words don’t repeat as frequently. So, how can you overcome this?

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It’s more or less the same as in the beginning. Since you read faster, you can also read more. In the beginning it might have taken you an hour or more to read 400 words, while now you might be able to do +6000 or +12000 in an hour. If you keep that up, you should still see the amount of “lingqs learned” go up steadily.

You could also practice in a more targeted manner using flash cards of course.


i find that i gain vocabulary more rapidly as my level increases. it is key to find material that is appropriate level. if you stick with easy material, then new words will be quite infrequent.

  1. Agree with @azarya that you end up reading faster, so you end up encountering more words. Personally, I’ve switched more of my time to using Language Reactor on YouTube, as I don’t have to faff around with the LingQ definitions. I mentioned it on the other thread, but I’m looking at an effective reading while listening speed of ~55 wpm on LingQ (opening dictionaries and writing definitions, etc.) compared to ~150 wpm on Language Reactor (where I often don’t have to pause the audio to get the definition). I.e. ~3,300 wph vs. ~9,000 wph. As a beginner, you wouldn’t have reading speeds anything like this.
  1. Agree with @heinrichjiang that at a higher level, you need to encounter a new word less times to learn it. Maybe it required an average of 200 encounters as a complete beginner to learn the word, but only an average of 10 as an advanced. The numbers differ, but the point holds - that you learn words with fewer encounters.

  2. At an upper intermediate / lower advanced level, you can really handle more time with your L2 without getting mentally exhausted. For this reason, you can spend more time with your L2. Not everyone can do this, but, say, replacing your L1 TV-watching / YouTube hobby with that of your L2 is very doable. As an upper intermediate / lower advanced, I spend much more time with Italian than I did as a beginner.

  3. There are various ways to make low-frequency words appear more frequently.
    a) Study multiple materials from the same author. Individuals tend to use the same low-frequency words. In other words, some globally low-frequency words and not low-frequency words for specific individuals. You do this by reading a book series, watching many videos from the same YouTube channel, etc.
    b) Focus your study on specific topics. Specific topics - be it politics, computing, economics, fantasy, etc. - use low-frequency words much more frequently. Eg. the word ‘wand’ is much more common when reading fantasy books.
    c) I don’t really do it this these days, but I did as a beginner - re-study the same material. If you’re okay with re-reading the same book or news article, go for it. If you want a little bit of diversity, perhaps try listening to audiobook, which you’ve already read, after a month. Perhaps this has enough novelty to keep your attention. And specifically select books, which you are open to re-studying.
    d) When you encounter a new word you want to learn, consciously spend more time going over that word. For instance, if you are reading, say the word out loud. When I’m watching a YouTube video with Language Reactor, I may repeat the sentence a few times before moving on, so I end up hearing the word, say, 3x.
    e) Writing and speaking is also a good way to make that vocabulary stick.

Some people like to use Anki, but, personally, at an upper intermediate / lower advanced, I continue to learn vocabulary fine without it. All in all, especially with the extra time I put in, I’m learning vocabulary faster than I was as a beginner.


The difference between intensive and extensive reading has been discussed quite a bit on here and elsewhere, and it’s been remarked that LingQ offers an intensive and/or “semi-intensive” mode of reading. (Depending how you use it: whether you choose to just read looking up the words as you go, or you make an effort to memorize vocabulary.)

I’d say at B2-C1, you’re about ready for extensive reading. You should be able to read texts outside of LingQ at that point and pick up vocabulary from context, or from looking them up once in a while. I found with my English-learning way back when that this was the point at which my vocabulary took off at a rapid pace again (after the slow “intermediate plateau”). I found that I could often remember rare words just from seeing it in context once or twice. If I looked up a word once, that was all I needed to remember the word indefinitely. Today, English feels like a native language, and I know thousands and thousands of words with no idea when or where I ever encountered them - just like in my real native German.