When should I stop using Lingq?

I mean, I have a Kindle device and some books I’ve already bought. When would you feel comfortable transitioning from an app that helps me learn English to one that I would actually just read??

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I guess if you can read a real book in your target language without too much of a struggle, you are ready! I personally look forward to that day!


I feel I am getting close to that level in German, but, given that in the past I have tended to overestimate my level of language knowledge, I suspect “feeling” I’m getting close and actually being close might be two very different things. I have reached 11,000 known words in German, so I imagine I might need to get another 9,000 words under my belt (at least) before I’m comfortable reading without some kind of translation software to help me.


Never, you will have to stay with LingQ forever :rofl:

More seriously, when you think LingQ is not adding anything anymore to your learning experience. Not because of laziness.

Ask yourself why you want to use Kindle and not LingQ. You can keep using both btw.

@Pr0metheus for a language like German, I would consider a minimum target as 65k known words, that should give you around 95% comprehension.


I doubt I’m ever going to stop using LingQ - as long as there are languages to learn, there’s a need to use LingQ.

But if we’re talking about only learning one language, I think the idea is that we stop using LingQ when we are comfortable reading a book without needing to look up words we don’t understand. In other words, when our literacy is so advanced that we can read pages and pages of advanced text without running into words we don’t know and can’t figure out from the context. To me, that’s when I’ll stop using LingQ for a particular language. I’d imagine this level comes sometime after we’ve reached 20,000 known words.


I would use it as long as you can find content where it saves time when you can look up words or phrases that you don’t know. This would imply having a lingq dictionary that actually can give useful definitions, which might differ between languages. There is no need to use lingq if you don’t feel like it. You could also select the content that you have for lingq to be on the more difficult side, as long as that dictionary can be helpful. Then have other content that you feel comfortable reading without. There is a benefit in both styles and using a combination might be more effective before you are completely fluent. Or it might be beneficial to use a more intensive study approach to reading even if you are very advanced, at least occasionally, but do most more extensively to gather as many repetitions as fast as possible.

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Essentially I use LingQ as a convenient lookup device for words in transcripts. However the bugs are so serious that I am considering using YouTube and a dictionary instead.

As to your question, how often do you need to click on words? If regularly, then LingQ has value. If infrequently, then just use an online or printed dictionary. As for the LingQ SRS, I consider it to be of little value.

I think you can start doing so when you feel comfortable with the level of the material that you’re reading. When you are comfortable with the level of “unknown” that you are encountering that allows you to truly enjoy and understand most of what you are reading.

This can actually happen long before you are “finished” with LingQ. Perhaps there is a book or a magazine or some content that you feel perfectly fine consuming outside of LingQ. Go for it! There may still be more difficult material that is too cumbersome, or you are losing to much of the meaning, that may be better to still go ahead and import into LingQ.

At some point more and more content you will find you can easily read it outside of LingQ…and at some point, enough so that there is not as much value from LingQ anymore.

Not sure what that level will be fore you. I think everyone’s comfort level is probably a little bit different and it also varies across the languages.

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Of course you can, but 20k known words (lingqs words) are really LOW. If we are talking 95% comprehension, in German is 65K words (more or less).

The problem is that it depends on how much deep we want to go into one language. Because we can keep using LingQ for refining the same language over and over.

Our mind is able to skip any effort and fatigue, so it won’t be a problem to read a story without knowing every word. But that’s the difference, we can read everything online, with kindle, and so on, just for PLEASURE. But when we use LingQ is an opportunity for learning.

With LingQ we slow down and we focus on improving the language, we search for words, we pay attention to sentences, and so on, depending on what we are focusing at the moment.

Maybe when we reach 120k known words, there is nothing new to learn from a reading point of view. But we can still work on repeating the listening part eventually.

At the end, it all depends on our goal, as usual. For me, C1/C2 is the minimum level to reach to get comfortable, and be sure that our language will last for decades if we don’t use them for a long time.

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I’m not talking 95% comprehension. Most novels and popular nonfiction books use only 5,000 to 10,000 unique words, so I doubt I’m gonna need a passive knowledge of 65,000 words for that. I’m not looking to understand quantum theory or plate tectonics, and a lot of the words I come across now I can figure out from the context, and from recognizing word forms from a word family I’m already familiar with.


@Pr0metheus yes, but you are confusing unique words with LingQ words. With 10k unique words you are probably at 95%/98% comprehension, which would be 65k/80k lingq words. We are probably talking about the same thing, I’m just giving you the reference for LingQ. :slight_smile:

EDIT: I tried to search for old topics, but my figure is for German. In any case, I would add 15k-20k to LingQ’s advanced 2 reference (I prefer to be conservative).

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I agree. I have 25,000+ known words in French, probably much higher since half my input is outside LingQ. And yet when I watch films, I’m continually hearing new words. For example donf, as in Je bosse à donf, le débouché commercial and le réensauvagement. There’s also a lot of new expressions that pop up. I don’t think there are all that many new words that will come up in films, it’s more that I’ve not exposed myself to everyday French. So word count alone is not a good guide.

In short, if you enter a new domain, such as everyday language, or politics, or ecology, then you will make a lot of new word friends. Of course you then ask yourself if you need LingQ to pick up a handful of domain specific words. I would argue no.


Absolutely, that’s a matter of preference. But I would do it anyway because at that point you have already done a lot of work to perfect your personal vocabulary. That’s very convenient when you want to convert yellow words. They are already there.
There are people that don’t put much emphasis on creating their own vocabulary. For them it could be different. But I have created a tons of personal vocabulary, and it is convenient to have it with you all the time.

I would say, for French, a 60k could be good reference. Probably you will start to feel a good difference with 50k. With German there are more compound words.

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No, I’m not. I fully understand the difference.

You think 10K unique words has a ratio of 1:6.5 or 1: 8? Not according to Steve Kaufmann. According to him it’s 1:1.7, so that would be 17,000 LingQ words in order to know 10,000 unique words. I think it’s a bit more than that, but nowhere near 65,000 and certainly not 80,000. I think you may be assuming that every single word in the dictionary has a whole variety of different forms, but that’s simply not the case. You also may be assuming that if I know only one form of a word, its other forms will be completely unrecognizable to me - that would be another false assumption.

Right now I’m at 11,000 LingQ words in German, and I’m struggling to find words I don’t know in the books I’m reading. Sure, I’m not reading the equivalent of Charles Dickens or Shakespeare, but they’re not B1 level texts either. The thing is, LingQ is telling me I’m learning new words, but I’m really not, because I already know the vast majority of the “new” words that are appearing in the text because I already know other forms of those words, so they are recognizable.

Here’s Steve Kaufmann talking about this issue:


I’m not assuming anything, it is more a calculation based on the experience on previous users that have studied German and shared their experience. And they were advanced users that I respected. It is a bunch of old discussions that I have no idea where they are, also because we have changed forum. But at that time I was taking notes and I was crunching numbers to get a reference and goal to have.
As I said, I’m a bit conservative. Keep in mind that there are people that have number like 130k known words. We are not talking about lings (yellow words), but real converted known words. Staying at 65k known words it is a good figure, probably 55k known words would do.

I have no idea how you can not find new words with only 11k known words. I wish I had that experience but I haven’t. I have 45k known words in German and I consider myself intermediate. But I don’t read the same stuff, and I often change topics.

IF you only take the official Lingq Threshold published by Lingq in this link, you will see that they consider Advanced 2 with 42K known words (more or less).

Keep in mind that Advanced 2 could or could not give a C1 level. Of course it depends on the material you are reading. But that’s the minimum. If you are lucky to nail the most common words, maybe with a minimum of 42K you are advanced. But as I said, I prefer to have a higher goal to avoid demotivation, and 65k known words was the goal that I had written a couple of years ago, or maybe more.


Yeah, but that’s anecdotal evidence. Kaufmann’s 1:1.7 is based on scientific study of words and word families, done by Professor Paul Nation at the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Wellington University in New Zealand.

Now sure, the precise number will be different for every language, but it’s not going to be multiplied by a factor of 4 for German.

Honestly, I don’t really care, and Kaufmann gets a few things wrong too. :wink:
I don’t even start with science.

At the end of the day, if you reach fluency with 11k known words, good for you.

You might be interested to look at this old thread as well about his experience with German at 50k known words, and afterwards at 100k known words.

EDIT: in this thread there a bit of ratios calculations per book though.


That might be the right ratio, but it might also be for a language as a whole and not relevant to different periods of learning the language. I suspect lots of the words that have the least different forms are the least frequently used. And problem isn’t that you don’t recognize different forms, but that you reconize them and have more known words without actually learning different base forms. Personally I have 30k words in Spanish and I don’t feel like I’m there yet. Often I can read texts and get what unknowns mean from the content, but still quite often there are words that would be lot easier to look up and hard to learn from context alone. Also futher up I have gone, the less the amount of new words has dropped. It feels like you are in the cusp, but never actually get there.


A part from the edit that I added above, Kaufmann in the video is talking about 15K known words for a B2 in English. More or less in line with the current Intermediate 2 in LingQ. (see the first link with the Thresholds by Oliver).

In English, an advanced 2 in 30k known words minimum. And English has a lot less variations compared to German, because of all the compound words, and tons of verbs.

I have 32k Known words so far in English, and I think I add 1k/month. I think I’ll be ok with 45/50k. As I said, I’m conservative. But I’ll shoot for a lot more in the next years.

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Agree. After a while, I can say I prefer how LingQ thinks about words instead of family words, or unique words, or root words.
The reason is that I can easily see that for some reason my brain can recognize a word in one conjugation very easily, but not so easily in another conjugation. Or for example in German declensions.
Or for example, sometimes it is easier to recognize a word in its plural form, but not in its singular form. Go figure!
For some words is very easy to recognize all combinations, but not for others.
For this reason, the politics to count each variation as a known words is for me the way I prefer.

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