Took a quick, easy LingQ test of my French vocabulary. The test also sometimes tested my grammar. I missed two of . . . maybe 15 questions. Result: LingQ said I know 6,700 words. Yet my profile reflects that I know 19,488 words. lol I’m not a good student . . . I suppose there’s an explanation for such a glaring disparity. “Passive vocabulary?” There is that. La résolution: study harder and better. Must say: I’m ecstatic if I actually do know 6,700 words. Heck, I’d be happy if I only knew 2,000 words. That’s better than a sock in the stomach.
There’s no way a test of 15 questions can accurately reflect your level…for better or worse.
This is true. It’s also true that no one has an exact count of how many words there are in French, or English, for that matter. I have nearly 45,000 words in Italian, which would mean that I have more words in Italian than I do in English, which, believe me, is nowhere near true. Given that many nouns in English have only two forms, single and plural, whereas all nouns in Italian have four, masculine singular and plural and feminine singular and plural, and heaven only knows how many forms for each verb, I like to divide my Lingq words known by 6 or 8 to get a better, but clearly not perfect, idea of where I am. In the end, though, the real test is how fluently I can read and how, for need of a better word than fluent, fluidly, I can speak. By the way, I once took a test to determine how many words I know in English (involving hundreds of words, not just 15 questions) and scored 38,000. Who knows if this is in any way accurate!
The other things with “known” words, regardless of how you count them, is that there will be some percentage of that total, that you’ve forgotten. You knew it, at least passively, but the next time you come across it, you don’t remember quite what it’s meaning was. This happens to me all the time. I have no idea what that percentage might be, but I sort of feel it’s around a couple thousand or more “lingq words” at my level. Hopefully, it’s less, hopefully not more! Either way though, I’ll keep plugging away so it doesn’t much matter.
Thanks, Cheska. Excellent feedback. You well describe the improbability of accurately knowing how many words populate our working vocabulary. And fluency is the goal. Even more heartening is figuring out written meaning even if you don’t know every word—immensely encouraging. Bonne chance avec l’italien !! Superb language. It’s on my future language list. Best wishes with your studies.
Thanks for your feedback, ericb. Precisely—you said it well. One day you know certain words, the next day you’ve forgotten them. I often demote the color coding of words I read when not satisfied with mastery. Much like one of Gabriel Wyner’s strategies: do a recall: write a list of, say, 10 words whose definition you forget. Memorize by rote and write (not type) them on a sheet of paper. Repeat a few days later. Does seem to help with driving definitions deeper into long-term memory. Best wishes with your studies.