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What's an unreasonable amount of words to learn per day?

I usually note down every new word I see in Duolingo until I have 20 for the day, at which point I stop. I then drill the words into memory with a few of my own exercises on paper.

Considering I'm currently unemployed and looking to make good use of this free time, I want to learn as much as possible. 20 words a day is a little less than challenging, but I want to push myself. However, I'm also weary that I might over-do it and end up giving myself too much to remember, making much of my work pointless in the future due to forgetfulness.

What do you think is an unreasonable amount of words to learn per day?

October 17, 2017


[deactivated user]

    I think it depends on the person. I think if you are looking to increase do so in a small interval like 5 a day. Soon you'll know when you've met your limit.


    I agree, this is good advice. Add some constant amount each day until you know your limit.

    I use anki for flashcards on my computer, and I use the same principle, but in reverse. When I have less than 40 flashcards in day for one of my languages (100 for Japanese), I add more until I have that many. Then I don't any more until that happens again.


    Depends on your capacity, clearly.

    One thing I would say though is learning to use words in context rather than memorize them individually is a strategy I use because I don't like learning one word at a time. By remembering words in ways that I use them, I develop a usable capacity in a language, not just memorized words.

    I think your question is kind of silly and is personal capacity based. If you wanted to ask what are some good strategies to learn, that is something else, but when should you stop is based on your capacity. Ya.


    As long as you don't count verb conjugations as seperate words, I'd think that 50 nouns/adjectives/adverbs/infinitive verbs should be the maximum number per day.

    With that being said, what I normally do is I learn new vocabulary during the week, and then spend the weekend revising the new vocabulary that I learnt during the week (and I also work on conjugation during this time).

    As a side note, I practice the alphabet/writing system of my current language daily. I also make a point of it to list and study as many pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions as I can once I have gotten the 'feel' for the language.

    Prepositions and conjunctions are typically much fewer than the other parts of speech, so I like to get as full of a scope of them as I can early on, so as to be able to link phrases mrore smoothly, and also to be able to focus on building vocabulary of the other parts of speech. But depending on the language, their usage differs in difficulty.

    An final piece of advice, try to focus on one part pf speech's vocabulary-learning per day. I found that I learnt and retained more of the vocabulary when I isolated it and spread it over different days. For example, nouns on Monday; adjectives on Tuesday...

    I understand that this is not always possible because Duolingo skills often mix up parts of speech, and that one sometimes does multiple skills per day. Nonetheless, I try to keep my vocabulary as compartamentalised as possible, so as to be able (for me) to make sense of them better, find words faster, and revise and retain them better.

    If you prefer to write down new vocabulary as you go through the course, try to colour-code the different parts of speech. For example, red for adjectives, blue for femenine nouns, green for infinitive verbs, and so on.

    Happy learning!


    When I began learning ASL, I was learning 20-30 new signs a day. It was very doable at first. Then, as more new words piled up, I had a harder time retaining so many new ones on top of the others I'd already memorized. The memorization began slipping on previous signs, and the new signs started not sticking as easily. And, the more you learn, the more you'll need to divide your time regularly reinforcing it. So, it's more about what amount is reasonable for you and when. :)

    PS I just realized you've double posted this. So, I'm deleting the other one. If you decide to move this discussion to the German forum, just follow these instructions: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16609773/How-to-move-a-post



    It depends entirely on you I suppose. For me, if I don't do at least 15 words I won't retain them for some reason. I also can't do more than 40-45 before retention becomes a problem. If you really want to learn a lot, taking a break for a few hours after putting a lot of effort into memorizing one list of words before moving onto the next seems to have a similar effect to waiting overnight. It's not as effective though, so I wouldn't be doing 2-3 lists of 35 words a day, maybe 2 lists of 25 or something along those lines.


    I find the notion of learning words one by one to be interesting. I have never seriously pursued learning this way.


    I guess it depends on so many factors that it's not possible to answer. First, what do you consider a word. Are boy and boys two different words? In this case, I can just write down all the possible conjugations of a verb in French or Spanish, and I'll have way more than 20 words. Well, of course, I guess that you meant word like the main word, which you can find in a dictionary.

    In this case too, it can vary. You can take variations of a single word, forming new words that will be all related. For instance, in French, you can learn sucre (sugar), sucré (sweet), sucrer (to put sugar in) and sucrier (sugar bowl), so 4 different words, but as they are related, you can easily just learn one and infer the meaning of the others.

    Then you have the issue of your native language. If you are an English-native, you can easily guess that nación = nation, conversación = conversation and información = information. However, if you do it in Arabic or Japanese, that might be more difficult.

    Finally, you have a natural inclination towards languages and vocabulary, it will be easier for you. I know that I struggle with vocabulary and new words ; it takes me a lot of efforts to learn a new one, and I know some people who don't have any problems with that and can go up to 50 new words a day and remember them perfectly.

    Btw, if you really want to learn new words every day, I can give you an advice. It's not about the number of words you learn, it's about how well you know them. 20 is okay, but then, at the end of the day, try to write sentences or even a text using those 20 words. I think it might help you fix them in your mind, and if you can't find any sentence with one of the words, it means that this word is not useful for you and that you shouldn't try to memorize it anyway since you'll hardly use it.


    How I did arabic, which you mentioned, was learning new words in sentences, with vocabulary I already knew, in ways I could foresee using the word in the future. I was able to get into the 3rd year arabic class at my school after studying for a year in large part because I was able to use my vocabulary very effectively, despite the other students having more than a year more of exposure than I. And I didn't learn words one by one, but in context.


    By all means, I'm not a fan of learning new words. I never do. I read, a lot, while using a dictionary, and that's enough for me. Then of course, I try to express myself with all the words I know. But I'm never going to have a list of vocabulary that I have to learn, I think that's not effective.


    Try to re-learn on Memrise in the DuoLingo course one level which is 7 words x 10 lessons = ~70 words.

    This will be fun especially for the verb skills (infinitive), adjectives or adverbs.

    You will have to do enough with words reviews and getting your backlog queue to 0 the next days :-)

    I do not do this on a regular basis...but I also tried this for some skills...

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