When to move to speaking with native speakers and tutors?

Hey, so I’ve been learning Dutch for a while now, and was wondering about when should I move on to conversations and such? How many words should I acquire? Im currently at 1040

Im still at Beginner 1 moving to Beginner 2. I don’t think I could hold a fruitful conversation still. So, I would do as good to guess that at Intermediate 1 or 2?

I mean to meaningful conversations, not basic tutoring.

Would appreciate the feedback. Good day folks!

Just speak whenever you get the change and you feel like doing it.

If the reason why you DON’T feel like doing it at certain times is because you don’t think you’re good enough yet and you can’t understand very much of what is being said by the other person, then you’ll know it is still a bit “early” for you to do so.

There is definitely no hard and fast rule.


^^^ This. Aside from about 10 Italki classes (after the first few months), I haven’t spoken a single word for well over 1k hours of receiving input. Could I? Probably. Would it be good output? No. Would it be productive? At this stage, not as productive as getting more input, IMO. I have no plans to speak until I can effortlessly understand most things I hear, and I’m still not that close to that yet. But speaking isn’t my goal and it isn’t motivating for me (at this stage at least). If it motivates you to spend more time in the language then do it, at whatever stage you’re at.


I would always seize the occasion to speak with native speakers - just a single conversation will tell you a lot! You may be lucky and find the conversation is fruitful enough for you at present. It is of course possible that you understand what is being said but simply can’t reply or you may find yourself drowning in sounds you cannot make head or tail of - in which case you can try again after you’ve improved your listening skills.

Speaking to tutors has certain advantages one of which is they can offer explanations to your questions relating to language. The disadvantage of course is that speaking time with a tutor costs.

To get better at speaking you’ll need to practice, whether that’s practice with native speakers, non-native speakers, tutors, or simply talking to yourself - perhaps even talking to yourself whilst looking at yourself in the mirror - or engaging in speaking in any other way, in the end it’s all up to you.

Happy New Year and good luck with your language learning!


Thank you all for the insight! Happy new year!

For me there was a moment when I felt that it was right to start speaking. I had started to listen to ZDF documentaries in German and understood the vast majority of what was being said, so I had confidence that I could at least understand what was being said, even if my responses were full of grammatical errors and I was hunting for words a lot of the time. My italki teacher reckoned I was B1-B2 but I had never thought about it before.

At first we mostly spoke about what I had done during the week or what I was reading (simple and familiar topics), but more recently (after about 10 lessons) we started talking about more specific topics that aren’t in my comfort zone but are the sorts of things you would talk about in everyday settings (housing prices, politics, renewable energy).

Whilst I would say that every conversation I have had is meaningful, the best ones have been the ones that go off on tangents or we talk about something unexpected. I say this because there is no script in most real world interactions and so being able to respond to diverse topics organically is very challenging and also very rewarding.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that you’ll get a feeling when the time is right to speak regardless of your word count and if you find a teacher that is happy to talk about your interests as well as letting conversations go where they will then that’s even better.


This is a very loaded question with no right answer as it differs for everyone. As adults- we are very nervous to make mistakes which causes us to be fearful to just try to use a new language. I personally like to try to practice with natives as soon as possible, Even if that’s me communicating a few sentences as practice.

I don’t necessarily think there is such a thing as a non meaningful conversation. You are practicing what you’ve learned and turning passive vocabulary into active vocabulary. When I was in high school we had “words of the day” where we would learn more “complex“ or “uncommon” words and we’d incorporate them in our day somehow. This strategy has really helped me with language learning as I like to find a ”word of the day” and I try to use it that day- whether in conversation with someone or if I am talking to myself to practice a language (yes this is great practice!!!).

Hope this helps!

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It all depends on your goals, how close it is to a language you already know, and your situation. If you need to speak the language very soon, you should start ASAP, because then at least you’ll be able to say ‘Hello’ and ‘What’s your name?’ On the other hand, if you’re not in a rush, the language isn’t similar to one you already know - such as your first Germanic language - and you’re at home, then you might as well wait. Unless you’re really itching to speak, of course, because then it may help with your motivation and it’s fun.

In one of his videos, Steve mentions he used to wait until around 10k Known Words, but now he starts to speak at about 3-5k Known Words.

Personally, I started to speak a bit after I hit Intermediate 1 in Italian (6,700 Known Words). As I mentioned in another post, this was equivalent to a B1 comprehension for me. When you start speaking, you struggle a lot for the first 5-10 hours, then it gets easier. I chose this time because it fit with my goals, life situation, and so on. If things were different, I wouldn’t have minded waiting a bit longer to speak, but it’s really up to you.


This varies hugely. Word count is important but there’s a huge caveat.
If you are learning a language that is close to your own, you could probably start at less than 5,000 words because you probably have a huge number of unrecognized (by you) cognates that you have gotten for free and don’t know about yet.
If it’s a distant language from your own then you will have far less cognates and in that case you might need at least 5,000 words.

I don’t feel ready at 8,000 head words in Russian and more than 19,000 lingQ words for example, whereas if I was to try to learn Italian or Portuguese I’d probably jump into conversation after 2,000 words because I’m already advanced in Spanish and mid-intermediate in French.

This is my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

For me, I have been deeply embarrassed that I couldn’t figure out cases so whatever I said was essentially baby speak even though I had a decent amount of vocab. Now that I have figured out what cases mean in a way I can understand and hold on to I might give it another shot in a couple months.

Agree with Nfera.

some people (see e.g. refold community) also advocate waiting longer so as to get as much audio input before moving to speaking in order to really cement your understanding of what the language is supposed to sound like before trying to imitate the sounds (i.e. speak).

To me personally, there does not seem any benefit to start speaking unless you need or want to speak.

So in short, depends on your personal goals/needs

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