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Why does Speakly teach me the 4000 most relevant words?

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Nothing in the Speakly application is there by chance, as our goal as language scientists is to offer you the most optimal language-learning experience. This, in turn, means that our years of research have required deep dives into memory and linguistic sciences.

As you know by now, Speakly will teach you the 4,000 most important words and phrases of a foreign language, which is enough to manage practically any real-life situation. In case you’d like to read further about the unique Speakly approach, check out this blog post.

You may have wondered why Speakly teaches you exactly 4,000 words and phrases of the language and not more. 🤔

It's actually very simple

The reason here is very logical and practical: to save your energy and time, and to keep you from learning things that won’t provide the most optimal boost to your language skills.

To elaborate on that, let’s look again at the core of Speakly’s approach, which teaches you the most important words in the order of their real-life relevance. This last bit is especially important, as learning something in the order of its importance is the centerpiece of the whole Speakly approach.

As you may already know from other blog posts or from learning with Speakly, knowing the 300 most important words of a foreign language teaches you the vocabulary that is used in about 42% of any real-life conversation.

When you know 1,200 words, that percentage rises to 70%. And when you learn the 4,000 most important words of a language, you will basically have the vocabulary level required for fluency. Which in reality means nearly any real-life situation. 😊

Let’s look at these numbers with some more detail.

As you can see, when you learn more words, they actually have less impact on your language skills. And that’s logical.

Because Speakly teaches you words and phrases in the order of their importance, the 300 most important words are used most often in real conversations. And as you move downward in the importance, then it’s logical to presume that these words are used less frequently, as well. And that’s exactly the case.

You actually need fewer than 4,000 words

I would just want you to really take a minute to think about how big the difference is between knowing just the 300 words that give you 42% fluency, and 4,000 words that give you effective fluency. Learning 300 words takes just a month. But learning 4,000 words takes much more time.

That’s why we see that many Speakly learners reach a solid speaking level much sooner; they don’t need all 4,000 words. It’s nice to know all 4,000 words—they will help you feel confident while speaking the language—but to really be able to speak comfortably, knowing around 2,500 of the most common words is enough. 👌

It's all based on statistical relevance

But now let’s get back to the original question: Why 4,000 words and not more?

As you may have guessed, the answer is hidden in the same statistical thinking.

Let me give you an example. Imagine taking the 10,000th word on the list of statistically relevant words. That means that this word is the language’s 10,000th most important word. What do you think: What is the statistical probability that you will use this word in any conversation in your everyday life?

Of course, it depends quite a bit on the person, but on average, this word is used in 0.00007% of real-life conversations, which is the same probability as winning the lottery three times in a row. 😜

Mind-blowing, isn’t it?

That’s why we have thoughtfully set the limit of useful vocabulary to 4,000 words to keep you from learning something that you effectively don’t need to know. 😉

If you think now about how many words there are in a dictionary, then you can easily see how a dictionary is actually a super demotivating vehicle that it should be avoided as much as possible for successful language-learning. Check out this blog post to read further about the reasons why this is.


Speakly teaches you the 4,000 most relevant words based purely on scientific and statistical reasons—these are the words and phrases that actually help you use the language in all kinds of situations. So, the next time you’re learning with Speakly, be mindful that every word and sentence that you study is valuable in enhancing your language skills. 😉

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