Can you learn 100 words a day? Is it even possible?
I was asked, “Could you learn 100 words a day?” Just how many words could you learn in a day? After a discussion on this, I have looked over my language learning statistics and here is what I think:
If I look back at my own Czech studies after I had been at it about 6 months. It was all part time, one hour a day most of the time, some days much more, and for stretches of time, nothing. The main activity with any language learning is listening, then comes reading, and saving words at LingQ (LingQing). A smaller amount of time is spent on reviewing words in flash cards, and then I move to talking with a tutor online at LingQ.
So in this period of time, 180 days, could you learn 100 words a day?
I’ll show you the statistics generated by LingQ, which is what I use to learn languages. The numbers look like this.
By this I mean only my ability to recognize the meaning, or a meaning: 25,260.
This includes non-words, numbers, names etc. How many I don’t know but let’s say 10%. So the number is really probably 23,000.
Czech is very inflected and therefore this inflates this number compared to English. This is what I thought at first, but now I am not so convinced. In fact we need to learn the different forms of the words, for tenses or cases, or person, whether in Czech or French, so each of these words does count, in my view.
Words I’ve saved in the system: 20,600
Of which 7,425 have been moved up in status towards varying degrees of “known”. Note that I do not do a lot of flash carding and only move words up in status sporadically.
When I look at lists of these words in the vocab section, I know most of them, but certainly not all.This number includes 1725 phrases. So perhaps I should count this as 5,000 words. Even among the other so-called status “1” words, roughly 13,000 or so, there will be words that I know. but never mind.
So maybe I know, albeit passively, 28,000 words. I had been actively learning Czech, although not every day, for 180 days. This means that I may have learned words at the rate of 155 words a day. Maybe it is a lower number, but I believe it is at least 100 words a day. Most words are learned incidentally through reading, and especially through seeing the yellow saved LingQs highlighted in our texts at LingQ.
I have now read over 250,000 words at LingQ in Czech, often more than once. This is the equivalent of 3 average length novels.
I can read the newspaper fairly well.
Apparently Czech shares 40% vocabulary with Russian, which I have studied, also in the same way at LingQ. By that I mean this is the number of words that are the same or recognizable, like zitra/ zavtra for tomorrow. English has 60% Latin based words, so I think that an English person who put the same effort into French or Spanish, could learn the same number of words in those languages and could learn 100 words a day.
I studied Czech a few years ago so my statistics at LingQ for that language are not current. However, the statistics from my recent Polish challenge illustrate the fact that we can learn or add to our “known words” total well over 100 words a day. In fact in the case of Polish (since I know other Slavic languages) it is over 300 words a day.
The conclusion is, you can learn 100 words a day, if you are willing to put in the time.