2,000 Words = Language Fluency. I Think I’ll Try French.

By | 2014-01-17

cork_quoteDid you know it only takes a knowledge of 2000 words to become fluent in a language? To reach 60% comprehension? I just learned that. Apparently a solid understanding of the grammar isn’t completely necessary – if you know what the words mean.

Ah, that just clicked. I don’t know about you, but when I read for information, I don’t look at all of the words. In fact, I skip most of the superfluous fluff and focus on the words I am interested in. Words, not sentences. Pure information conveyance. Of course, it would be very boring to read articles that didn’t have any fluff. Company X invents product Y. So what? You get the idea. Catchy stories are nothing but fluff with a planned pattern, an intended direction. Imagine a story like this: Sadness. Impact. Happiness. Cheers. Not so catchy. There’s a reason we have so many words.

I’ve briefly sampled Swedish via Rosetta Stone’s immersive ‘If you want to learn to swim you need to get in the water’ solution. Try it before you shop at IKEA. Seriously. I’ve learned to say ‘I am American’, ‘Do you speak English’, ‘yes’, ‘no’, among other things in Farsi, Hindi and Japanese with the Pimsleur approach.  Amazing how a little word like ‘no’ combined with a ‘yes-like’ nod can confuse the unknowing. I wonder how many conflicts that Farsi word has inadvertently caused. What others are there? 

Take a look at SixtyVocab.com. They made Forbes Startups to Watch in 2014 short list and were profiled in the local paper this week. Try a few out. I’m looking at French this time around. My kid is taking French and keeps asking me if I know what things he says mean. I figure I may get lucky and know one soon. I’m already confused by the spelling vs the sounds. I’ll figure it out. Or not. Still fun to learn though.

Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.- Charlie Munger


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