Memorizing Vocabulary?

I know that one of the main points of lingq is to acquire a language by reading, but I am wondering if there is a place for memorization. If you have the right method of memorizing something abstract like words, could I memorize… lets say 60 words a day and in a year have a total of 21,900 word families in your vocabulary… Word Families, so knowing every form of the word as a noun maybe, or a verb, Etc… Just let me know what you think.


Hi RolfdP,

If I am understanding correctly, you are wanting to know of a way to go over vocaulary to memorise it in a more direct manner?

If so, you can go to the vocaulary section of LigQ and review vocabulary that is not marked as known. You can also export that list to an Anki desk and open/add it to your Anki profile which I find really helpful.

As for memorizing 60 words in a day, I would say that is quite ambitious. I would be surprised if some could learn and retain more than 15-20 words a day for more than a week. It would depend on your target language and how much it shares with your native language though.

I would shoot for 100 words a week as it seems pretty comfortable.

I think LingQ does a great job with word repitition and allow one to pick up new words quickly through exposure.


In my opinion, you’ll learn words faster by acquiring through reading AND you’ll learn them with better retention. I believe this was the case for me. What you are describing, and as Dylan1566, points out is what you might find with Lingq’s vocabulary section…or another SRS type of tool like Anki. In my opinion, these can be helpful in the beginning stages, but once you get to late beginner and intermediate stages you’ll learn vocabulary much quicker through input…reading and listening.

My main problem with the SRS tools is that you get to a point where you have too many words to review, particularly if you ever take some sort of break. I found if I went for vacation and didn’t get a chance to, or didn’t want to do language learning, for that few days or a week, I’d be coming back to reviewing hundreds of words. Even on a typical day it felt like more review than chances at learning new words. One point to note is that my time for learning is rather limited, so possibly someone that has more time per day can fit this in. No doubt there are people that still like to do some SRS and possibly some may be helpful, but I think if you’re trying to learn vocabulary the quickest it would best be done with reading and listening.

Try it out and see. Maybe do a 3 month experiment and see how well you do?


Memorization of word frequency lists in anki (audio) plus listening to youtube tprs plus lingQ is my method. I have so far done two languages to intermediate listening comprehension level. One “easy” one: French and one “hard” one: Russian. I’m about B1/B2 listening comprehension (not speaking) in French and about B1 listening comprehension in Russian.

Would it have worked if I didn’t do the memorization? I don’t know and I’m not willing to find out. My method works (for me) and I am satisfied with it.

For reference, my method is very similar to the “Ikenna method”.


Right. It takes a ton of time to do brute force memorization. In the initial six month stint where I’m trying to cram 5-6,000 words it can take up to an hour a day just of word cramming. So yes, it’s time consuming.

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My own stats are this: with French you can do about 50-60 words a day in anki and keep your drilling to about an hour a day. That way you will get to the 5,000 mark at roughly 90 days and then slow down for there. My observation (after comparing with Russian afterwards) is that you can do this volume if your native language is English because French has a ton of “cognates” (i.e. words that are spelled the same and mean the same thing but are pronounced differently).

Russian on the other hand I got crushed when I tried to do 50-60 words a day in anki because most of them are non-cognate. i.e. they are gibberish (though not random gibberish).
After the first month I was over two hours practice and sometimes 3 hours practice per day. I had to stop learning new words to catch up. In the end over the course of about a year I managed to do about 17-18 new words per day in Russian because of the difficulty of retaining non-cognate words.

One interesting tidbit: my speed has increased after about a year. I can now do about 25-30 new words a day because I am now familiar with the consonant clusters and sub-word components. i.e in english we have for example “-ly” and french has "-ment’ as sub-components. Russian for example has “-nest or -nost” as a sub-component. After many, many repetition my brain started to notice the chunks and this now helps me to memorize new words. That said, I now have enough word families under my belt (7,000 or so - approx 16,000 lingQ words) that I don’t really need to memorize any more and just listen or read material instead and mostly try to guess from context.

TLDR: I think that memorization of high frequnecy vocabulary could have a place if you can stomach the pain and boredom of an hour a day of memorization for six months. If you cannot, it’s not for you.

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Yes and no.

Those numbers sound unreasonably large to me, but things like sentence mining can absolutely be very helpful. It’s a way of artificially having repetition of new words and phrases. Especially at more intermediate/advance levels, you come across infrequent words, so saving interesting sentences and getting some review can definitely be helpful.

Imo, memorizing words in isolation is a losing game, it’s easier to remember a word if you see it in context. When you review sentences you’ve naturally came across in your input activities, you have a personal connection to that phrase. When you review that phrase, a lot more information and feelings get invoked than if you just memorized a list of words.

Also, there’s another thing, a lot of words don’t just exist by themselves, they have nuances and connotations that can change depending on the context. In one context two words might be synonymous but in a different context they’re not. So to get the full meaning, you’ll need to see a word in multiple contexts. Just memorizing a dictionary definition or a basic translation gives you no information about how the word is used… Eg, think of the word “sh*t”. It’s used in dozens of idiomatic phrases, in all kinds of contexts, with a wide variety of meanings. Memorizing the dictionary definition just won’t take you very far. Or the word “like”, you’d just have to hear it used a bunch to actually get the feel for how we use it.


Just a quick comment about the number of Anki cards being overwhelming–especially if you take a break. There are settings with Anki that allow you to limit how many cards should be reviewed in a day. I set my decks up to show me a maximum of 20 new cards per day and a maximum of 100 review cards. I rarely hit the maximums (reviewing flash cards isn’t exactly the most stimulating of activities), but it does limit the damage if I stop for a few days and means I never spend more than about an hour per day reviewing and learning cards.

But I really do like Anki. Gives me something to do while I’m standing in line at the post office or waiting for my meal at a restaurant.


60 new words of brute force memorization seems like a lot (ignoring those vocab you naturally pick up through reading), but maybe for closely related languages with cognates it’s easier?

I’ve been going super crazy with the Anki with Mandarin, and my morphman stats have me at about 13.5k “words” in 20 months (avg about 22 new “words” a day, but I’ve learned more cards than that), and there is plenty of days I don’t add any new cards. There was a month where I did about 50 new cards a day / 800 reviews, but then I started getting burned out as it was taking me hours a day, so I dialed it way back.

I rarely see people report sustaining more than 25 a day. 10-20 is a good goal to shoot for, and using SRS like Anki + lots of reading will help you retain that vocab for longer than a week.


Ok, thanks. I should have said this in the first place, but I am more thinking about Latin to do this with. I am going to be taking a class for it. For Romanian, I have chosen that I should just stick with what I am doing: 30-60 minutes of lingq, 30-60 minutes of YouTube, 30-60 minutes of reading, and 30-60 minutes of Mondly. I do not do it all everyday but it has worked pretty well recently. With Latin, I know that my teacher will be giving me many words that I will have to memorize. I will be looking at Latin as more of just a class then I look at Romanian as. So, I think it would be a bad idea to risk my Romanian for something that may not work, but, with Latin, I think that since it is is not spoken anymore and I will be looking at it as a class instead of something I want to do (not that I do not want to do it). Oh yeah, and I mainly gave 60 as a number in my last post because… well I don’t know, I just thought of the number so I put it, but if I did the same for 20 words I could still have a deceit vocabulary by the end of the year, if, everything goes to plan. (Sorry if I was unclear anywhere)


Makes much more sense then as you presumably have a target set of words too? Do you have a list of words or would you be getting them piecemeal?

I don’t know what pace you can keep. Obviously depends on how much time you can spend. I think it makes sense to use Anki in this case. However, if there is text containing the target words it would be good to import that and do some Lingq’ing I think. Or some sentence mining in Anki as jahufford mentioned may be useful.

That’s a good point regarding Anki. Anki is a lot more customizable. I should point out that most of my SRS experience was with Memrise. Actually, with Memrise I could also do whatever I wanted. I could move on do some new words, and often times I did, just to progress a little on new stuff, but I think I always felt compelled to complete review, or that it was a necessity or good idea to do. After all, the app is telling me I need to review these words! =)

So I definitely take the point that one can limit the review or the amount of SRS they do. It’s at that point though that I sort of feel there’s no point to putting myself through it at all. I might as well read instead as I’ll have a backlog of thousands of words that need review and I’ll only be going through maybe 50 of them a day (my time). So I’m not getting the additionally frequency that Anki, in theory, could provide.

I do think SRS has a place…I think it was helpful to me at the beginning stages to help reinforce and provided a good starter for jumping into LingQ when I ultimately discovered that. Now that I’m quite experienced with LingQ though, I feel like I could potentially just start a language from scratch on LingQ without issue.

I’ve thought about introducing SRS here and there. Maybe to review certain pesky words that are somewhat common, but that I can’t quite remember every. I have many of these though =)

My point might be overly simplistic but the main problem I have with vocabulary flashcards is that there are just too many words.
I see basically two applications of apps like Anki where I identify a huge waste of time and three potentially beneficial uses of flashcarding/SRS.

First, learning the most common words even in a pre-designed deck makes no sense to me. If these words are so common, you’ll encounter them anyway all the time and it’ll be easy to acquire them.
Second, creating flashcards with sound, images and example sentences for every new word you find in your - apparently not so comprehensible - “Comprehensible Input” is really time consuming and highly inefficient. How do you know that this word will be important or that your flashcard even represents the real meaning of the word?

The potential benefits might be with languages that use another script (learning Kanjis for instance) or for working on difficult grammar points if at some point you want to study grammar.

For me, personally, flashcards were useful for learning Spanish. At home, at work and with friends I suddenly had to use Spanish all the time. Instead of waiting until I acquired the word of sieve, chalk or pencil sharpener which are unusual words in TV an literature but practical words in real life, I just learnt them by heart.

Now that I’m learning Polish I do not use any flashcards. However, before going to a Polish restaurant or going to Poland for a weekend, I would check specific vocabulary that I know I will USE.