How to raise your "Known words" count

I had a chat with someone yesterday who was not pleased that the “all time” counts for known words have been raised.

“My target was 10 000, now it’s 20 000,” she grumbled. “Where am I supposed to find another 10 000 words from?”

“But you must already know that many words!” I objected. “Your English is excellent! Your passive vocabulary must be at least that by now.”

“I know lots of words,” she agreed. “But LingQ doesn’t know I know them. I listen to podcasts mostly. There are no transcripts, so I can’t import them into LingQ and have LingQ keep score of all the words.”

This is a problem that a lot of intermediate and advanced students have. You can now understand authentic language without seeing it all written down and hearing it spoken slowly and clearly, so you interact a lot with the language outside of Linqg. How can you bring your LingQ scores into line with what you know?

These are my thoughts, feel free to object or add your own.

  1. From electronic sources
    This is easy! You can import text using copy and paste from websites, e-mails, eBooks etc, create LingQ lessons and hit the “update statistics” button to make LingQ work its magic for you.

  2. From print sources
    Harder, but you can use Steve’s “pencil” method to highlight all the new words and import the list of new words into LingQ via a text file.

If you read a lot of news stories on particular topics you could always look for a web-site with similar stories to upload. One story on Middle East peace talks will contain pretty much the same vocabulary as another.

If you have a scanner and are determined you can scan your books, magazines etc and use a free program to convert .jpg to .txt.

If you’ve read a classic (out of copyright) book then have a look for the ebook on the internet. You may be lucky.

  1. From audio sources (films, radio etc)
    This is tricky. I can’t think of any alternative but the “word frequency lists” approach.

Find a list of the most commonly used 2 000, 5 000, 10 000 or whatever words in your target language. This is a good place to look: Wiktionary:Frequency lists - Wiktionary.

Import into LingQ. Go through this list. LingQ the words you don’t know, you needn’t create lingQs for the ones you recognise and have a rough idea of the meaning . (We are only concerned with passive vocabulary here, words that you can make sense of in context). Now hit the “update statistics” button. It’s tedious but at least you only need to do it once per word.

Once you know the 10 000 most frequent words in any language, let’s face it, you know all the important ones. All the rest are obscure, archaic, regional, technical, idiomatic, proper names or “noise”. There are ways to add these into your LingQ database, but that starts to look a bit like cheating, so I’ll stop there.

At the beginning of using LingQ, I used to import every piece of text that I was reading on-line – daily newsletters, articles, etc. I just wanted the system to know the real amount of my known words – because sometimes lessons that I picked on the library were to easy for me. But after a month or two I stopped doing it, because the number of known words raised and statistics became more accurate. Now I read on LingQ only EglishLingQ, ItotD and TED podcasts, but I already have12000 of known words :slight_smile: