how many words do you know?

Some trivia: The average college-educated adult knows about 20,000 words.

Interesting? Absolutely.

Horrifying and daunting to those of us trying to learn a second language? Yes, that too.

But fear not, because there’s more: The average college-educated adult only uses about 2,000 of the words she knows in her everyday speech. Now that sounds much better.

By my completely unscientific calculation, I think I have around 500 French words committed to memory. Of course, recalling and conjugating them at lightning speed will continue to be the challenge, but it’s still reassuring that I already have tucked away somewhere in my brain 25% of the vocabulary I’ll need to conduct myself in French like a somewhat intelligent adult.

Well, aside from the whole issue of my accent. But we’re just going to pretend that problem doesn’t exist for now. Thanks.propecia generic from india

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6 Responses to how many words do you know?

  1. Bridget says:

    this is interesting!

    so have you sneaked a peek at this class’s bid list? how’s the bid list envy?

  2. Alex says:

    Bridget — Of course I have! It’s a good list, and I’m sure some people love it, but it didn’t inspire much envy from me. I really wanted to learn French, and there’s not much opportunity for that. While they have a lot of cool posts, many require learning a language spoken in only one country, which, after my experience with Zulu, I swore I’d never do again. =)

  3. Daniela says:

    Don’t worry about your accent. You just started studying French. It’s completely normal to have an accent. In fact, you may always have an accent but who cares. It’s been 25 years since I started studying English and I still have an accent, even though I spent almost half of that time in the US – immersed in the culture. My accent used to bother me but at some point I decided that it’s just part of who I am and stopped worrying about it.

    Knowing 25% of the vocabulary you’ll need is way more important than your accent. It’s a great foundation to build on and a terrific achievement!

  4. David L. says:

    Good job and keep up the good work. I wish I had studied Spanish with more earnest now that I’m here. I think I have about 100 words, but it isn’t too often I get to tell people about the horse I don’t own.

    Speaking of which, I’m sure you are starting to realize the futility of some of the language they are teaching you. The joke I heard often is that sure you can talk about nuclear proliferation treaties and trade agreements, but you can’t order food at a restaurant.

  5. Jeanne says:

    I read somewhere about the number of words in the various different languages. And, if I remember right, English had the most by far. So maybe your 500 words already makes you as good as a college educated French woman.

  6. kamilla says:

    Bon courage!! Mais en francais, c’est pas la meme chose en fait: apres les premiers 500 mots, tou les autres 1500 sont presque la meme chose que en anglais, mais avec un accent francaise et avec “la” ou “le” avant. Donc, tu es tres proche de ton but de parler en francais sans avoir l’air d’un idiot etrangere 🙂

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