How long to reach 50k known words?

I know this is not so easy to calculate because it depends on the language you have, the language you study and other things.

But how many hours do you think it takes to reach 50k known words from zero?

I’d like to have some data to have a vision on the future on my German and organise my months ahead. So to understand if I can make it and for when.

Afterwards, I’ll add to my schedule the time for grammar, listening and speaking.


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Davide, for me 50 000 known words were equal to 2 000 000 words read (1 : 40 ratio) or 8 000 pages of text. I don’t know your reading speed, but at 10 pages/hour it takes 800 hours of reading time. I think my reading time went from 4 to 15 pages/hour when I reached 50k words.

Now I’m somewhere at 20 pages/hour and surprisingly the 1 : 40 ratio of learned : read words did not change.


I second the notion of 2 million words read to reach 50K in German. That’s pretty much what I have done.
The measure I used to get an idea of my speed was comparing my reading speed to the audiobook narration speed. Most audiobooks seem to be narrated at a pace of 15 min / 2000-2200 words, or @ 7-9 pages – meaning at the narration speed it would take you 15 minutes to read trough one LingQ lesson worth of text. So, if you can reach a speed of 50% – pausing to look up, or catch up 50% of the time – you could read @ 14-18 pages per hour. Which is in the ballpark of Rychkov said. I think that speed is fairly easy to reach at the more advanced levels, and it’s easy to maintain a daily routine with.


Thank you for this feedback. It’s very useful info to calculate the time in the future. I read quite slow at the moment as I focus on many aspects of the text but it’s kinda cool to have a reference like this.

Thank you for confirming the target words to read.

The idea to compare with audiobook is an interesting reference as well, although right now I focus on text only as I still have too many words to search in the dictionary all the time. And not enough focus to do everything.

But as soon as I’ll have a bit more vocabulary I hope I can start listening to more audiobooks as I love them. Or I might use others audio/text input for now.

I find that having the audio speeds up your progress a great deal, at the early levels especially. I originally started with Assimil, so I was very used to pausing the audio sentence by sentence. And when I moved on to books it didn’t bother me that I had to pause a lot to re-read, or look up etc. On the long run, going slowly with audio pays off more than going slightly faster without the audio because you’re building reading and listening comprehension at the same time which will lead to you being able listen unassisted sooner, and in turn will lead to speaking sooner.


Not sure but I think it’ll take me a few more years!

it depends on your effort but i think 1 year has to do it

Yes, I do understand the logic and I also agree BUT unfortunately I find it too boring.

I tried Assimil with every language I’ve studied but at the end I was just looking at their grammar suggestions as sometimes they are very good.

I have a hard time to pause play pause play or to repeat and repeat the same content.

In fact, I’m really trying to figure out what kind of movies or books I might like to rewatch or reread and maybe focus on those. It could be the only way I’m able to repeat again and focus on both audio and text at the same time.

In my case I don’t have few more years. Or I do it in a window time that I can have right now or I have to drop it and change life goals.

Is there a reason you’re looking or 50k words? Is this talking about the way LingQ measures words? (It inflates the numbers somewhat as it counts each form separately, names, and so on.)

I wonder if you wouldn’t be better focusing on goals that are more concrete. The first thought was focusing on CEFR level goals. By having goals for each level A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, you have specific things you can study. You can take practice tests to determine your current level, and if you want to spend some money, you can take the tests to verify those results and get a certificate.

You might also be able to find guides that help you study for each section more easily than a random word number goal.

Reddit’s r/languagelearning subreddit has some good discussions occasionally and you can visit the r/German subreddit which would put you in contact with others on the same journey.


I have never really started a language from scratch here that wasn´t very closely related to other languages I already knew, so I don´t really know. I also spent a lot more time on LingQ than I think most people do.

With French, which I started at the end of November 2019, I reached 50K known words in early August 2020. It´s my only Latin language I´ve learned or tried to learn, but I could already read Le Petit Nicholas with a nearly full understanding when I began.

With Norwegian and Dutch, I understood so much just from knowing related languages at the point I began, my stats there would tell you very, very little.

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Thanks for the suggestions but after having used lots of other tools I find LingQ the one that is giving me more results right now. And it’s quite concrete actually because the results of that input exposure will give a lot of concrete stability.

As I said at the beginning, I will add hours for listening, speaking, writing and grammar. I don’t want to think right now at EU levels goals as I did with my previous languages. I’ll think about it maybe if I go to Germany. I usually like to go directly in the country but this covid period as changed my plans.

I’ll think to start directly with a B1 exam if I have time but I don’t really need it for any specific reason a part from my own need.

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Thanks for your sharing. Yeah, it’s not easy to define but with all the answers I have already a good idea on how to calculate the next months. Just to have a sort of road map on time investment.

Thanks. Yeah, probably but 1 year needs to be calculated on how many hours per day and on what to do those days. Anyways, I hope 1 year will do.

Hi David,

I just had a look back at my Dutch statistics from my profile page on LingQ and it apparently took me 2 years and 8 months to get to 50k known words and that involved 3.48 million words of reading.

In turns of actual time spent reading? Well if we use a slow reading speeding speed of 100 words per minute:

3.48 million words = 34800minutes = 580 hours

And 580 hours over 2 years and 8 months works out to be about 36 minutes of reading a day.

Hope this helps and good luck on your journey to 50k.


Thanks a lot for your input. It’s really useful to have some data to compare with.

I suppose you read a lot of material where you know already a lot of vocabulary. And I think this is good strategy too as you can reinforce what you already know but constantly repeating it.

You’re absolutely right, I went through phases of reading lots of difficult books and then switching to easier stuff such as detective novels which were beneficial in different ways - they were also a lot of fun!