When studying Arabic, most of what you will learn besides grammar will be vocabulary. In fact, you might tend to think to yourself: “Gosh! With all of this vocabulary, how many words do I need to learn before I can speak Arabic fluently?”
Well, there are actually no real numbers to give you that will help ease your mind, but in general, most researchers who are knowledgeable about such things agree that roughly about 20,000 Arabic vocabulary words should just about cover whatever you are using your Arabic for. If we break that down step-by-step, it looks something like this:
- 250 words make up the essential core of a language, but you won’t be able to construct a complete sentence out of those.
- 750 words make up those words that a person who speaks the language every single day uses.
- 2500 words make up the words that should allow you to express everything you could possibly want to say, though you may use some of them awkwardly.
- 5000 words are used by native speakers without higher education.
- 10,000 words make up the vocabulary of native speakers with higher education.
- 20,000 words are what you need to learn to read, understand, and enjoy a famous literary work in your target language.
So, what does this all mean? Well, although these numbers are exact, it means that a reasonable goal for you to achieve would be somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 Arabic words. However, don’t let that 20,000 word goal overwhelm you. If you’ve reached the 10,000 Arabic vocabulary goal, you can just pick up other words as you go along. The good news is that there is no “real” number to learn as even native Arabic speakers continue to learn more Arabic vocabulary throughout their lives, and because every language is constantly changing and involving, this includes words that haven’t even been created yet in Arabic. However, 20,000 words is a pretty reasonable goal to set for yourself. Sure there are those language learners (and you may be one of them) that go to extremes when studying a language, reading and practicing twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but it all really depends on what you want to use the language for.
So to answer the question of how many words to you need to learn in Arabic, our guess is that the 20,000 figure should suffice for most reasons people want to learn Arabic language vocabulary words. 20,000 words is six new words a day over a ten year period, but of course you can do it much faster because fluency doesn’t rely just on raw vocabulary, but a variety of other Arabic language skills as well. If you want to speed it up, of course the key is exposure meaning try to immerse yourself in the language everyday and this way you should reach your 20,000 word goal in no time at all.
To help you reach that goal, Kaleela has developed its very own Arabic language learning app available for download soon at kaleela.com. You can also visit the website to learn more about the Arabic language and Arab culture and get some tips on how you can learn Arabic and reach your language goals faster.