How many 'known' words to be able to speak

I was wondering to those that have learnt though lingq, roughly how many ‘known’ words do I need to start being able to speak? In speaking I mean both being able to keep some basic conversations with natives and being able to handle almost any talk.
Although I know that this ability changes a lot by the amount of previous talks, this is just to get an idea, nothing very specific.

Well, there really is no exact answer, but there are some good ones. I’ll try to cover several.

First, the Steve Kaufmann answer: “A lot.” He has several videos that cover this on YouTube if you search “speaking” and/or “fluency” within his channel.

The reason he says this, and my own experience confirms this, is because 1) it varies across the languages; 2) nobody really agrees of what a “word” is; 3) not everybody agrees on what it means to be “known;” and 3) you need so many words, not to be able to speak yourself, but to understand what the other person is saying so you can respond appropriately.

So, how much is “a lot?”

For LingQ’s definition of “Known” (understand in a context) and “Word” (each form of a word), the word numbers very ROUGHLY are equivalent to the levels of your avatar and the words required to reach each level. Because English is most studied language on Earth, 10-15,000 words understand or “known” will let you handle most any regular speech. Using stories like “Who is She” that are the same story in multiple languages, you can extrapolate what these word counts would APPROXIMATELY be across languages.

In short, speak whenever you can, but shoot for LingQ’s Advanced Level 2 (or better, the hidden Advanced Level 3). As you get closer to that level, speak and write more and more.

That’ll do it.


There are two problems for speaking there:

  1. ‘to be able to speak’ in different topics and ‘to start to speak’ - there is a big difference. You can try starting first dialogues when you know only 500 words and then you can make your dialogues more comnplicate and detailed together with the amount of ‘known’ words.
  2. the ‘known words’ can be different. If you just do new and new lingqs without taking time for flashcards or other exercises with these wiords, so your ‘know words’ will be ‘passive known words’ what is quite enough for reading and guessing but completely not enough for speaking where you have to understand and answer during few seconds.
    That’s why i would rearrange your question: How many active ‘known’ words to be able to speak in different topics.
    My answer - 2000 to 3000 words would be enough if you really know these words very well and can quickly manage and use therm.