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Any science in selecting DL vocabulary?

Does anyone know if science has been applied to choosing DL vocabulary?

In South Africa I had a Zulu dictionary that gave the ?500 most frequently used Zulu words. These would have been the root words, as each verb would have several tenses and persons as in other languages.

When helping an adult who was unable to read I found lists of the most frequently used English words.

Have the most frequently used words been chosen for the French or any other language course? This would seem the logical way of constructing a language course, but perhaps studies have shown other ways are better? What methodology has DL used in constructing the courses?

From my own observations in French as translated into English I find some of the vocabulary less common while some vocabulary that is more common is omitted. Having said that, I still have a few skills left and the words may be there.

Perhaps my environment has a different vocabulary from the general population, but I would like to think that what I have learned is based on a study of what is most commonly used in general.

Does anyone know?

October 28, 2017



I have only seen them discussing word frequency lists. Usually in response to someone complaining about the words that feature in the course. (For example: Royalty related words) If they have other criteria, I have never seen a mention of them.

Speculation: Perhaps they need certain types of words to teach certain grammar? This might skew the word selection away from one based purely on frequency lists.


I have just seen this which gives links to vocabulary of most frequently used French words. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24995196


Hi. I don't know if Duolingo has any 'method to it's madness' so to speak. It doesn't appear to be. I have noticed things that I think I could do a better job in writing but maybe it's just me. I think you will never really know this because only the course designers and admin/mods now this.


Actually, as for the German course, they seem to be combining both basic vocabulary for low-level textbook topics (getting around, food, tourism) and words high in the frequency dictionary (I'm currently finishing the second thousand, and there is a lot of Umgangs, Vortrags and Anwendungs that are so frustrating in higher levels on Duolingo).


Through doing the course, I very strongly get the impression that they just use whatever words are convenient to teach the particular grammatical structures and sentences they want to focus on teaching.

Duo will only give a pretty basic vocabulary that you'll need to supplement with other material after, but I've found it very good for teaching how sentences fit together in German

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