What is the average number of words you can learn a day?

So…what is the average number of words you can learn a day? I have no idea how many I can learn a day because I don’t count, so it’s probably not an easy question to answer for anyone, but I was just curious.

I can´t answer that question, there are just too many factors that come into play…

How much time do you spend learning your target language? How much time do you dedicate to learning vocabulary? How concentrated are you? Would you learn more if you would relax instead? What words are you learning? I´m sure that I learned “frog” (in German it´s "Frosch) faster than “question” (in German it´s “Frage”). “Day” is easier to learn than “dichotomy”, because it´s obviously more frequently used.

Are you learning words that you already read and/or heard a thousand times or do you try to learn words you´ve never seen before?
Which method are you using to learn vocubulary? Sentences in SRS or isolated words with vocabulary lists?

I could think of even more, but I´m pretty sure that I´ve wrote more than enough already^^


How do you define learning a word? I say 15 words a day if you speak 4 hours a day. I say only 10 because you will definitely forget them after a while, especially words that you almost never use. After a year, you would have ~5,400, which is a relatively large amount of words. Personally, it takes a lot of effort for me to remember words like “dungeon” and “mirage” or “sash” because I have literally have only come across them ONCE in my life when speaking my target language. Words like “street” or “hair” are so common that you will never forget them in your target language if you practice a lot.

I suppose it is better to ask how many words people are CAPABLE of learning a day on average and can recall the word within the next few days at least. As long as they have a normal intelligence level. I’m sure there are some people who are like autistic geniuses who can learn way more than most people.

I learn about 10-15 words/phrases a day. But the most of words are easy to remember because they are in the 3000 most frequent words.
Also, I use Anki to help me to retain the words/phrases.

IN my youth I could learn more than 100 words a day, now maybe less than 10 words a day in average during the month.
But of course, learning of the words needs some special efforts, and the most of us are lazy and don’t pay attention to the words.
Moreover, it’s a bit boring just learning the words, and we try to avoid it yet making new and new lingqs.

100 a day! You must be a genius.

I never learn the words! I’m only reading and lingqing. and after some time the words are known!


I’m sorry, Jolanda, but if I only read and lingq without paying some special attention to the words, I can remember only 10% of all Lingqs which are the most often in the texts. Other 90% I just omit, I can’t them remember after simple lingqing.

I only told how I learn.
You must go your own way!


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Today I read a German text and it had the word ‘mehl’ in it and for the first time I didn’t have to click on it because I remembered it meant ‘flour’ in English.

Whether I remember it in another six months is a different matter! If I do, then I will have truly learned it.

Just remembering that one word today though really made me happy! :slight_smile:


I’ve read that it takes the average learner 7 exposures to fully learn a word, although I’m sure you can still forget words if they are rare. So if somebody learned 20 words a day, they would have 7,300 after a year. But they would have to review them many times to actually remember them.

My personal suspicion is that it is easy to remember words early on in a language since you will be studying common words that will be reinforced. But as you go on and learn really obscure words then you slow down since you rarely hear them in daily life and you have to make an extra special effort to know them.

“My personal suspicion is that it is easy to remember words early on in a language since you will be studying common words that will be reinforced. But as you go on and learn really obscure words then you slow down since you rarely hear them in daily life and you have to make an extra special effort to know them.”

Pretty much this. If I look at a ten page story, there might be 5 words I’m not sure about, and only 1 of which might be a word I have no idea about. I have to really try to grow my vocabulary because probably I’d be able to live a fully complete life with the number of words I currently know.

Here’s an example of a word I learned recently and how I learned it: “Perdrix” - Within the context I was about to guess that it meant partridge, and it turned out I was right.

When I learn French (I’m at the beginner stage) I always review LingQs in lessons and I also review my LingQs of the day. When I learn English, because I’m at the very much higher level, I only review LingQs of the day… It’s pretty tiresome to go through a flashcard which has about 50 words, or more in it, because I read texts which have many words… What do you think about my approach?

Edit: I also, from time to time, do the dictation of known words (which I learned and are marked with number 4).

Average number of words you can learn per day:

Chinese 1-2
Russian 3-5
French 5-7

Much depends on the language, how you study, how much time you put in every day, and other factors, especially what you mean by “learning a word”. And of course how you count words.

My goal in learning words is to learn to recognize them when I hear them and see them in context. I want to have the largest possible passive vocabulary, so that I can read, listen to radio, and understand people when I talk to them. I am quite content to have a much smaller active vocabulary. When I have the opportunity to spend a lot of time speaking to natives, a lot of these passive words will be come active. Meanwhile my goal is comprehension, thus my focus on passive vocabulary. In my view, this is more practical when you don’t live where the language is spoken.

If I look at my statistics at LingQ I can get a sense of what is possible with a learning style of intensive LingQing.

With languages with a lot of shared vocabulary, we can learn a lot of words quite fast. In the case of Romanian, I acquired over 24,000 words in 60 days according to my statistics at LingQ. This includes the 21,000 “known words” on my stats, and some portion of the over 10,000 LingQs that I created. (I assume that I know half of my "LingQs.)

This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day. When I went to Romania, I could understand a lot of what people said and I could participate in conversations to some extent. You can watch my interview with my tutor on youtube.

In Czech, in a little more than a year, I achieved 55,000 “known words” and 44,000 LingQs. Despite having learned Russian beforehand, I needed to LingQ more and gained fewer words incidentally in relation my number of LingQs. I checked my LingQs on the Vocabulary page. Perhaps 20% of these LingQs are phrases, and I know maybe half of the rest, so that means I can add about 15,000 of the LingQs to the total, giving me about 70,000 words in let’s say 350 days. This comes to roughly 200 words a day.

If you define words as word families, then you need to reduce this number by some factor. I don’t what the factor is for different languages. In English, according to Stephen Nation, the ratio of word families to words is 1 to 1.6 . Maybe the number for Romanian is 1 to 2.5 and for Czech 1 to 5. I just don’t know. At LingQ we count every form of a word as a separate word.

I am a heavy LingQer, reader, and listener. I am not a heavy user of flash cards. I think if you spend a lot of time on Anki or flash cards you will learn fewer words. You will pick up fewer incidental, or freebie new words. I find that the time spent scratching your brain over words while doing flash cards is time less well spent than reading and meeting up with your yellow saved LingQs again and again in context.


Steve wrote:
“I acquired over 24,000 words in 60 days … This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day.”

For you, “learning” means “recognition”.
As you already know many romance languages, “from scratch” is not true!

For a normal learner, such learning rates are not achievable, nor realistic.

For me, “learning” means “production”, abilty to produce the word in a conversation.
“Recognition” is only ONE STEP of several steps towards “production”.

So my numbers (Chinese 1-2, Russian 3-5, French 5-7 words per day) are more realistic.

If you REALLY learn 5 French words per day, and you are able produce them in a conversation months later, then even “5 words” may be a high goal.


English has over 60% Latin-based words, which came from Norman-French. A person who knows English has some of the same advantages in learning French or Spanish, as I had in learning Romanian.

I might add that massive input, vast quantities of listening and reading, were also the methods that I used in learning languages that were completely new to me, such as Chinese and Russian. My rate of vocabulary acquisition was much much higher than the numbers you suggest.

It is difficult to measure how large our active vocabulary actually is. Different words from our passive vocabulary suddenly show up in our active vocabulary without us making any special effort. Sometimes we find the words we want and sometimes we don’t. If we train ourselves to notice words and phrases, in the way we do at LingQ, more and more of these passive words will become actively available to us.

In my view, a focus on “production” in other words worrying about being able to use words, is counterproductive when it comes to language and vocabulary acquisition. It means less time spent engaged with the language in vocabulary rich contexts. Children don’t learn words by studying flashcards nor deliberately trying to produce the words they have learned. They learn the language and words by being exposed to the language in a variety of contexts. They speak when they are ready and when they have something they want to say. I believe that is basically also how adults learn. Most adults have a significant advantage over children in that they already have a large vocabulary in their own language and, perhaps most important of all, in most cases they can read.

Just as it is counterproductive to spend too much time trying to “nail down” grammar, it is counterproductive to spend too much time trying to “nail down” vocabulary. I believe it is much more effective to find content of interest, things that are enjoyable to read and listen to, and spend as much time with them as possible.



I agree with a lot of what you´re saying, but I don´t believe that it´s possible to say “this is many words you learn each day”. As I said, there are too many factors that come into play.

I guess that´s why Steve claims to learn new words a few thousand percent faster than you^^

@ Steve

“This means I learned, from scratch, over 400 words a day.”

I thought you knew most of the Romanian vocabulary from English and the other Romance languages.