|Foreign language reading with a limited vocabulary|
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How many words you need to learn to speak a foreign language? Many, but you can already do a lot with a fairly limited vocabulary. The problem is that the words you don't know will often be quite important to understanding the whole text or conversation.
I have taken two short texts and grayed out rarer words - that is, those not in the 3000 and 5000 most common words in English. That will show you the difference between reading with a 3000-words-vocabulary, with a 5000-words-vocabulary and with a perfect vocabulary.
For a long time I wanted to do this article but could never find a lemmatized frequency dictionary of English with more than 6000 entries. Finally I decided to make do with Adam Kilgarriff's and its 6318 entries (if a word can be a noun and a verb, it is counted as two entries I'm afraid). Anybody who can get me a 20,000+ lemmatized frequency dictionary for English gets a free chocolate box.
I took a fairly simple 'litterary' text from 'How to Learn Any Language' by Barry Farber, the best book I know about language learning. Few people would call it 'litterature' and yet it uses enough rarer word for me to make my point.
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