https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

200 words a day?

I was told that I need to be learning 200 words in French per day. It's been about a month that I've been taking it semi-seriously, though not totally devoted. Duolingo says I know 221 words. Not very close and probably due to my trouble with genders.

Does anyone believe that 200 words a day even possible? Would love to hear anyone's thoughts. :)

January 5, 2015

42 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DXLi
Mod

    Learning and meaningfully retaining 200 new words every day from a new language is not only impossible, but such a notion is downright harmful. It sets up unrealistic expectations that will only cause stress and make learning unpleasant. The best thing you can do is to go at your own pace and try to enjoy learning French. Don't get too focused on measuring your progress and definitely don't compare your learning to how others are doing. Anybody who's telling you that you're learning too slowly and they learn X number more words than you is trying to sell you something.

    Also, cramming French vocabulary isn't really important. French has a relatively small active vocabulary. What I've heard is that 600 words make up 90% of all words used in French texts, while a few hundred words is all you need to communicate in everyday situations.

    That being said, French and English are extremely similar! French was the official language of England for hundreds of years starting with the Norman invasion in 1066. An analysis showed that at least 28% of contemporary English words come directly from French. Another 28% come from Latin (and probably also show up in French). This means that there are a ton of easy cognates that you can learn quickly. For instance:

    • Almost any word ending in -tion or -sion comes from French, is feminine, and means the same thing. Relation, correction, adaptation, etc.
    • Words ending in -ical come from French, where they have an -ique ending. E.g. politique, economique
    • Many words ending in -ble come from French. E.g. applicable, agreeable
    • Almost any word ending in -ary comes from French, where it has an -aire ending. E.g. dictionnaire, vocabulaire
    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnIsAPandah

    ABSOLUTELY NOT. It is too much for your brain to handle!

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wonderboy6

    It very definitely is possible, just not very realistic to the average language learner

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/killary45

    We all learn at our own pace, so we should not try to match anyone else's target, but learning 200 new words a day does not really make much sense.

    It can take a lot longer than a day to learn even ONE new word, because most new words will not stay in the long term memory unless we continue to practise them regularly. Yes, I could cram-learn a lot of new words if I were preparing for a test, and maybe even do well in the test, but a week later I could take the same test and get all of the words wrong. I think that for most people the faster we learn a new language the faster we forget it.

    Language learning takes a long time, but if you find a method that suits you then it is very well worth while. It helps to have targets to aim at on the way, and that is one of the great things about Duolingo, but remember that these are landmarks and not destinations.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jean_Morgan

    What a weird piece of advice, indeed! I feel measuring your progress by the number of words you know is really old fashion. I do like setting goals for myself but I would never ever choose vocabulary stacking as a valuable goal. "What are your goals?",you may ask. Well, they are a combination of three ideas. 1. Keeping motivation high (pleasure and happiness) 2. Tackling shortcomings one after the other (pragmatism) 3. Being as efficient as can be a self-learner (efficiency)

    Learning French genders may be boring, I really can understand that. It may help to notice they just reflect prejudices about… genders. "Le/la", "un/une" tells you a lot about French prejudices (or culture if you prefer). Beauty, moral qualities, undetermined quantities, art, feeling, imagination, home related things, and values are mostly feminine. Strength, nobility (a major idea to understand France), action and action related things, computing and logic, are mostly masculine. Genders weren't given or adopted by chance. Once you can spot some sense in French genders (or put some into all this), things may turn easier. Hope this helps.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

    Merci! This helps a lot! :)

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fiddlerkrt

    Wow, that is a weird piece of advice! I would say that you could speak a language fluently if you knew only 2,000 words and I'd be amazed if anyone could do that in just ten days particularly when you need to memorize genders.

    It looks like you are making good progress already, so I would keep doing what you are doing. Thankfully there are many similar words between French and English which makes life a little easier but some parts of speech are much more tricky than others, particularly verbs, so learning words is only part of the battle. Hope that helps and good luck with your studies.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XD29
    • 1476

    No, I think that 200 words per day is not possible, except for maybe some VERY talented people.

    I think I can handle around 20 - 25 new words per day. Don't forget that you also have to spend time constantly revising vocabulary. I'm learning Italian now and am going at a faster rate currently, because a lot of words are similar to Spanish or French words (languages that I have already studied) and that makes it easier for me to memorize them.

    I think that the Duolingo word count is somewhat distorted though, because it counts separate forms of a word as one word each. For example, "cat" and "cats" are counted as two words, whereas I would rather say you have only learned one new word "cat" (and you know the rule for plurals).

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/curlyeric

    > For example, "cat" and "cats" are counted as two words, whereas I would rather say you have only learned one new word "cat" (and you know the rule for plurals).

    Funny you should say that since cats, it's one of the few that is counted as a plural since it's part of the "Plurals" lesson where you lean about the generic rules. Not every noun is double counted if it appears in both forms.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XD29
    • 1476

    Oh wow, that's really funny. I'm doing the Italian course in which “gatta“ and “gatte“ are counted as two words... That's how I came up with the example. I'm also doing the reverse tree but never checked my English word list there.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XD29
    • 1476

    However, it's even worse with verbs, it counts leggo, leggi, legge, leggiamo... (I read, you read,...) all as one word each.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marzman

    I don't think 200 words a day is possible. Not with Duolingo, if you would only learn words with memrise your vocabulary would grow faster but a language is not only just words. But you also need time to repeat and to review and you also need to put them in the right forms and be able to make sentences with them (and that is what duolingo is good in) and it would be nice if you could listen and talk in a language but for that thing you need practice I think.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

    Thank you, Marzman. Kudos on the streak!

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/d7c74f92

    lingvist.io suggests that you do 150 of their flash cards a day. that includes repetitions. usually 50 of the 150 are new words, but you don't learn them the first time of course. it usually takes me about 25 mins (i think) to do the 150 cards. so i would say what is important is not how much you learn, but that you learn every day for half an hour or so (ideally)... maybe the recommendation you got was going in that direction. :)

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

    I am trying lingvist.io now and I quite like it! Thanks!

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cephlin

    I did not know about lingvist.io! Are there any more web apps like this about?

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/d7c74f92

    others mention memrise, though i have not tried that one myself :)

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cephlin

    Thanks, I use Memrise. The 450 verbs one on Memrise is really useful, I'm about half way through it.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/curlyeric

    Lingvist will give you words, vocabulary, but you also need to work on grammar and structure. I'm finding it a good way to broaden my vocabulary after finishing Duo so that it's easier for me to read native texts without stopping.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rumnraisin

    I think your 221 in a month is good.

    This made me wonder if "200 words a day" was from a quote, so I searched the web, and found 200words-a-day - perhaps (or perhaps not) the person who said it was suggesting you have a look at that. I don't think that site would work for me (the images they present would interfere with my mind's own image process). They seem to have French by email for free - I haven't tried it and know nothing about the company, but in the interest of information decided to provide the link.

    On a side note - the search also turned up some thoughts about the 200words-a-day site on a website called artofmemory. Not one of them says they've managed to learn 200 words a day. And they're people who are into memory techniques. (One poster managed 400 words in 5 days with memrise, and another points out "you'll be needing to review probably somewhere between 1000 and 1400 words ... at the end of the week".)

    (Actually one person on that forum says it's possible with Spanish, from English "by changing TION to CIÓN." I don't think that counts as a repeatable memory technique.)

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wandasparkle

    200 is pretty hard to even attempt remembering but still not everyone can learn the same amount of words in the same time I say if you're really into it and wanna know the words youll learn them! or even half trying you might forget some but youll still remember some

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Carolyn250

    If I can remember my educational research, I think I was told that it is very difficult to learn more than 10 things in one session, and I remember that the vocab. list for an entire week in a highschool language class was only 10-15 words. Knowing 221 words in 30 days is, I would say, somewhat better than average.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geekest_cat

    I don't think this scheme is necessary, not even recommendable. First, because words learned this way tend to fade from memory easily; for me it's a lot better to learn new vocabulary by reading lots of books in that language than with any memory card game. At the fifth time I've looked some word up in the dictionary I just can't forget it. And second, language learning is also subject to the law of diminishing returns: the most usual expressions are learned faster, and the more you learn, the harder it gets. This, together with the fact that everyone learns at its own pace, is why a linear-type goal of 200 is quite silly to pursue. Plus, in everyday life or even in much of business-related interactions (unless very specific careers in the linguistics branch), even native users of a language don't know it fully, but concentrate in a quite reduced cluster of vocabulary, depending on the needs. After reaching a certain milestone (being able to have a certain informal talk and understand people, for example) I'd concentrate on reading since I bet it's among the best way to learn not just vocabulary, but grammar and syntax specifically, which are the real key to polish any language you want to learn. Grammar and syntax errors (specially in a language like French) are much less forgivable. As for words, you can always ask the native person what they mean, and they will surely tell you with no problem.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/UncleTeaBag

    Put it this way. If you were able to learn 200 words a day you would know 73,000 words in a year. Around FOUR TIMES the amount of the average native speaker!

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cephlin

    I often find it useful to briefly expose myself to lots of new words one day. Then spend the next few days actually using, practising and memorising them, however I usually do this with a list of 20-50 words all within a topic.

    For example, learn lots of house related words like sofa, roof and kitchen etc. or most of the body parts.

    I think I've been learning for a year or two and I know about 1200 words on Duolingo and maybe a few hundred more from external learning, which is about 2-5 words a day.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pacher8475

    For me even ten words a day is too much. I am really stupid.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElRiXIV

    I barely could bring myself together to make a comment on such a topic, but I can not stand when people use the word <<stu--d>>. I understand the "art of oneself being deprecating of oneself, but use the words that really do not put you down at all. So, loose the word <<stu--d> as soon as possible. That's all I can say about the 200 words a day quota.. It could become counterproductive, waste of time, a fluffy goal, it makes no sense, and sets one for failure. Bonne chance. Yes I know about the lofty goals. But there is a huge difference between lofty and self defeating goals. Internet could be full of garbage. One has to acquire , by the way of hard work, how to sift the good from the silly, bad from evil, etc. Once one could stack up a number of words , one could go into starting to learn to listen to French, from good sources. For me as I stumble on different things I came across a TV thing called LaParanthese innatandue. I You Tubed it , and it is a recording of 3 different people of French culture, whose language is rich, very well pronounced with very good diction. Each segment has its own 3 guests. I listen to each segment a number of times until "I catch" all the words. I have meant to say few words and here I am . A bientot to you all.

    January 18, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/toussaintlou

    I would say that you could learn that many for a few days, at the start, mostly due to language similarities, and then you would trail off considerably over time. I'd estimate my vocabulary is around 6,000 words, and that took me 2 hrs/day for 323 days. I actually did a post to my blog on the subject of memorization:

    https://duolinguist.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/study-idea-read-about-how-languages-and-your-memory-work/

    and you may like Anki as another tool in your daily routine, and I talk about it here:

    https://duolinguist.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/using-microsoft-excel-to-import-into-anki/

    Good luck.

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/darknemesis789

    no and i don't think that you should have to:)

    January 13, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

    Thank you all! I was feeling very discouraged about 200 words a day. I will continue with Duolingo and FluentU as well, which I have started to fall in love with. :)

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XD29
    • 1476

    It just occured to me that whoever gave you this advice, might not have meant to learn 200 new words every day... Maybe the 200 were meant to include revision of vocabulary previously learned. However, 200 still seems a lot, even for that.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

    Haha! :) Believe it or not, they really meant 200 new words... daily. I couldn't even imagine remembering all of the words an hour later! To be fair, this person was multilingual... but with three children and working, I just don't see it happening that way for me. :-P

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XD29
    • 1476

    200 new words per day is simply not realistic, except maybe for a few people with a special talent... Just forget about it.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/panagiotis_ts

    200 words a day seems to be toooooo much work, but it actually isn't. I learn about 150 words daily and I don't spend more than 2-3 hours for that. If I spened 5 hours, I could definitely memorize about 200 words easily. However, don't expect that you'll be fluent in a language in 10 days, as someone else wrote here. 2,000 words aren't enought to communicate in a foreign language. And there is also grammar, conjugation, syntax, everyday phrases, expressions, idioms,....... You should spend at least half a year of intensive lessons to become fluent in a language. I think that 10,000 words are sufficient for the European language level C2. I think that to be fluent, you need to be at least level B1. :)

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wj677

    Everyone learns at a different pace and unless you were learning a language full-time and exposed to it on an immersion basis I can't see how you could hit 200 new words every day and remember much of it after the 3rd day. You need about 1,000 - 1,500 words comfortably under your belt to start having basic (and I mean basic) conversations so I would suggest you try and find a Dictionary with the 1,000 most common words and start there so you get maximum return on your investment of time. Memrise has flashcards with these types of series.

    And final piece of advice if you don't know/use a word in your mother tongue you will never need it in your target language so don't waste time learning words you will never use.

    Good luck and keep at it, you will be surprised at how it starts to stick in your brain after a while. Imagine a bucket with a hole at the bottom - you want to keep putting French in at the top to make up for the French that drips out the hole at the bottom. Do it consistently enough and the bucket starts to fill up.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LadyofFireLace

    thanks! I have signed up for Memrise. I may be addicted.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tbvjshqk017

    Je crois que lire un petit roman ou comprendre un petit video en francais seraient de bons buts.

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheWiseTurtle

    Umm...who told you that?

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kjjet

    If I could get 20 words a day I would be happy. Masculine and feminine are difficult. I do not have reference to why things would be M or F. Very confusing

    January 5, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kyeshamccutchen

    No way i don't think anyone can learn that much in a day that's impossible !

    January 6, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/acubangirl

    The higher your vocabulary in English, the easier it is to learn a Romance Language. In Italian what doesn't look like Spanish, Looks like English, In French, what doesn't look like Italian, looks like English, Portuguese, just combine all three (spanish Italian and french). If you want to branch out, shoot for Romanian just for fun. The natural order should be as an English speaker, Spanish, to Italian,to French to Portugues. Portuguese likes to mash up spanish and then throw in some Italian while getting nasal like french. Though spanish is more nasal than Italian. I play around with duolingo here and there, but it is just for refresher. If you are a native English speakers who has a handle on Spanish, it is easier to go in and change your language to spanish speaker learning Italian. This way you knock out your spanish and Italian at the same time. In this way you will hit the 200 mark daily quite easily. Make sense :) Then go after french, as a so-called Italtian speaker. Honestly, though, if you speak spanish, it makes no real sense to jump to french it is not the easiest transition. However I will say in order of usefulness it goes, Spanish,Portuguese,French, then Italian, in that order. Dictado by the number of speakers worldwide. Ci Vediamo tutti.

    August 7, 2017

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Instrume

    Define learn. If you mean learning the word with understanding of its cultural implication and with long-term retention, then no. On the other hand, if you want pre-cram, i.e, the ability to retain for the short-term words with simple translations, then yes. Just don't expect that you won't need to put more work on the words that you've already "learned".

    I'm personally an advocate of a cram-learn-practice-review cycle, so claiming 200 words isn't that shocking or upsetting to me if it's part of the pre-cram process.

    August 16, 2018
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