Assess chances

How many words you need to know in English to communicate fluently

How many words you need to know in English to communicate fluently

Let's figure out what the vocabulary should be in order to speak fluent English depending on your goal.

In order to communicate fluently in English, you need to have a number of important skills: understanding English speech, the ability to compose grammatically correct sentences, and, of course, a sufficient vocabulary. However, before you start learning all English words in a row, it is worth understanding at least the purpose of communication. After all, the vocabulary will vary depending on whether we are going to communicate on everyday and domestic topics, solve business and professional issues, or take academic courses at a foreign university.

It is important to remember that it is not always the quantity of words learned that makes the difference, but also their quality. After all, if we learn all the names of insects or mushrooms in English, it will significantly enrich our vocabulary, but it is unlikely to contribute to successful communication because these words will simply be inapplicable for communication in everyday situations.

How many words do native speakers use?

If you look at how many words English dictionaries contain, it may seem very discouraging. The Oxford Dictionary contains just over 170,000 actual words (not counting the 47,000 that have fallen out of use in the modern language). However, don't be intimidated: no native speaker knows all of these words. The reason is that a number of these words are specific terms that are not used in everyday communication and are necessary only in a narrow environment, for example, among specialists in certain professions.

To reassure yourself, you can check how many words are contained in the dictionary of your native language and see that the entire number is not equivalent to your vocabulary either. This happens in any language, so in order to communicate with native speakers, you will not need the whole dictionary.

Thus, it is believed that the vocabulary of the great master of drama William Shakespeare involved 20,000 words. The same number makes up the vocabulary of an average educated English speaker today. At the same time, only half of these words can be present in the active vocabulary of a native speaker, and for everyday communication on simple topics, a native speaker will use even less — from 2,000 to 3,000 words.

How many words do I need to learn?

You can start simple communication in English even if you have very few words in your vocabulary.

Professor Stuart Webb from the University of Western Ontario believes that a command of 800-1000 of the most common words in English will already allow you to understand 75% of information and solve almost all basic everyday problems. This amount of vocabulary is quite suitable for those who are going to use English when traveling, to be able to buy something in a store or make an order in a cafe. This is basic knowledge, with which you can carry out elementary communication, but it will not be enough for the purposes of study or work.

With 3000 words, you can reach a more fluent and comfortable level of English. If you remember, this is the number of words that native speakers use on average in everyday communication. With such a stock, you will be able to watch movies in the original without subtitles, communicate on a variety of topics without feeling any obstacles or discomfort.

Of course, there are also quite accepted criteria and norms where vocabulary correlates with international language levels (CEFR).

  • A1 level — 1,500 words or less;
  • A2 level — 1500 — 2500 words;
  • B1 level — 2750 — 3250 words;
  • B2 level — 3250 — 3750;
  • C1 level — 3750 to 4700;
  • C2 level — from 5000.

If you are interested in checking your English vocabulary, you can use special online tests that will help you make a rough calculation.

What words to learn?

One way out may be to study the most common words in the English language. For example, the McMillan dictionary offers a list of the 2,500 most popular words, it also has an extended list of between 5,000 and 7,500 words.

Along with this, you should learn those vocabulary units and terms that you may need in your particular field, e.g., specific words used in your professional activities or vocabulary needed for educational purposes in English.

Learning English with a native speaker can also be a good solution, because then we hear which words and expressions are really relevant in speech, and we can memorize them more easily.

Fluency training

Fluency will be influenced not only by the number of words you learn but also by your ability to use them and — most importantly — to think in English. The fact is that sometimes learners of a foreign language (in particular, at elementary levels) try to translate their thoughts from their native language into English word for word. Unfortunately, this approach does not produce good results.

It should be understood that English is a completely different system in which not all linguistic units will coincide with the native language. In general, it is not advisable to spend a lot of time trying to find the exact word that comes to mind in your native language. Instead, we should try to express our thoughts in a different way, using the arsenal that we already have at our disposal. This approach will help you learn fluency, the ability to choose words quickly, and not get lost in English communication situations.

Learn the language in a balanced way

As we have already realized, knowing a word does not mean being able to use it in speech. Here we face the problem of using grammar, combinability of words, and, finally, the ability to remember a word we know in time and use it at the right moment (in the latter case, special techniques of memorizing words that keep vocabulary in our long-term memory can help).

It follows that the most important thing is the harmonious development of all language skills. Listening, reading, and speaking should be developed in a balanced way, not in isolation from each other. We can take advantage of everything the modern world has to offer us. i.e., listen to podcasts, watch YouTube channels, read books and online publications in English, and, of course, engage in conversation practice with foreigners and native speakers. This approach will maximize our immersion in learning and teach us how to think in the foreign language.

Teacher assistance

Specialists can help you learn a language in a systematic and balanced way. Professional methodologists and teachers develop and present learning material in such a way that students of all levels can get the most out of the educational process.

ILAC's Canadian English language school offers courses in a variety of areas and levels. By studying English in a small group with a native speaker, students will have the opportunity to optimally develop all the necessary skills in English. The vocabulary in ILAC courses is tailored to the student's goal, whether it is general English, university preparation, or business communication, and words are learned and practiced according to the most up-to-date teaching methods.

ILAC English courses are popular worldwide due to their varied formats, convenient schedules, and affordability. Sign up for an ILAC English class now to avoid missing out on the most favorable learning conditions.

Source, Source, Source
  • #English language
  • #English speech
  • #English vocabulary
  • #English words
  • #study in a foreign university
  • #learning English
  • #English dictionaries
  • #communication with native English speakers
  • #native English speaker
  • #English proficiency level
  • #English lesson
  • #ILAC English language school
  • #ILAC