Rough estimates

Does anyone have any idea how big you vocabulary is after

Level 1
Level 2


Just curious


Probably a hundred or so per level? Something along those lines, anyway.

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But your vocab is much bigger than that @Pete2. You know the difference between Amgueddfa and Amlosgfa.


Ha ha.

I have pondered this question more than once, too. Are there any software applications out there to estimate this reliably?

There are basically two methods to estimate vocabulary that I know of, enumeration (listing every word and counting it, excluding derivatives like plurals and endings) and sampling.

For a few hundred words (or even a few thousand, with patience), listing is possible, but the last few, least used, words may take a while to recall.

For a large vocabulary typical of experienced fluent speakers of many years active standing (i.e. using the language in real life pretty much daily), listing would be impractical. Instead, by seeing how many words are known from representative pools of “easy”, “medium” and “hard” words, an estimate can be made of the total vocab size. I recall doing an English vocab test online and getting an estimate of 38,000 words. I would not like to try and list all of those. To be fair, I am sure this is not 38,000 different concepts, as English has many synonyms for the same idea, due to its broad linguistic heritage.

I am tempted to try to list all the words I know in Welsh, probably using the computer to remove duplicates from the list. It may take a few days of imaginary conversations on every topic I can think of until … well, once I am only getting the odd extra word on the list with long intervals in between it will suggest a “nearly complete” state for the list.

Given 25 challenges per level, that would imply four completely new words per challenge, on average.

That might be a bit low, but I think it’s in the right ballpark – SSiW (at least the levels) teaches surprisingly little vocabulary and surprisingly much language with that small vocabulary.

Probably between 100 and 200 words per level, maybe around 150? I don’t think the average is more than eight new words per challenge.

Maybe slightly more in the first few levels where they introduce things such basic building blocks as bod (dw, mae, …) and yn and ddim once which then get re-used over and over. Once those are introduced and it’s mostly just content words, the rate slows down, though you get exposed to more forms of vocabulary items you have already learned (e.g. ddudes along with dweud).

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According to the government’s review of the Welsh for Adults service, carried out in 2012, the first Course (not Level) of SSiW introduces about 130 words. (I’m presuming that someone either sat down and counted them all or asked Aran/Iestyn.) So that sounds about right to me.


I don’t remember the latter happening…:wink:

As a rule of thumb, I expect about 10 new items per lesson - I’ve just checked lesson 1 of the old Course 1 framework, and it had 15 - and the new Level 1 first lesson has 14 (if I’m looking at the right text for it). So 130 for 25 sessions sounds a bit on the low side to me - I’d expect more like 200-250. [Perhaps the lower end there - some of the last lessons in the pre-SSiBorg stuff would only have three or four new items].


Seems roughly what i thought. Which is really quite astonishing that in 75 lessons of the old course plus the vocab units you’d have a vocabulary of around 750 plus words, maybe around 1000 in total.

It struck me last night when thinking about learning 80 plus rugby terms for mini bwtcamp and all the new vocab i’ve picked up that i really need to find a structure that makes it as easy to remember as SSIW without mixing things up (thanks @margaretnock for the reminder lol).

Ignoring verb conjugations (omg have i just used a grammar term?) i must be well over 2,000 words now so the trick must be how to get used to using them seamlessly. More radio cymru, more ssiw, more reading and more chatting i guess!

oh and of course in chatting with dome people doing mynediad last night SSIW got the usual plug :slight_smile:


Don’t know if you are already using Memrise, but you can make your own courses in it (and keep them private if you so desire). I’ve done that to help me learn vocab words that just wouldn’t stick - words I keep hearing on radio/TV and then I say to myself, gosh, I’ve looked that one up before, and I can’t remember it again! :slight_smile:


Yes i use it.

Have done
Cwrs Pellach y Gogledd
Welsh Rugby Words
Arddodiad Cymraeg
Useful phrases - course uwch
Cwrs Uwch

and am currently most of the way through
Geiriau Cymraeg Lefel Uwch

I did try charlie ac y ffatri siocled but didn’t get on with it.


I’ve done 150 Welsh Verbs for Everyday Conversation, and am still working my way through All-Around Confidence: Everyday Vocab. I’ve found both useful. I’ll have to check out the ones you listed. I haven’t spent much time with Memrise recently since I’m focusing on finishing Course 3. Wish there were more hours in a day :slight_smile:

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I actually started keeping track when I first started learning Welsh. This was after I had heard a TED talk by Chris Lonsdale on learning a foreign language where he said you need 1,000 words to get a grasp on the language. I stopped keeping track after I got to about 500. This was not just from SSIW, I had also learned vocabulary from Duolingo and Now You’re Talking (and S4C and Radio Cymru, etc.). I think the main thing is that you would probably be astonished by how many words you have learned without realizing it.


I suppose that anyone living in Wales already has a considerable vocabulary even if only collected passively. I am thinking of sources such as bilingual signs, descriptive place names etc.


Very true. It’s surprising how much you pick up.

Are you making a distinction between passive and active vocabulary Pete? I am reasonably happy with my passive vocabulary, but find my active one annoyingly small - I just need to speak more. A move to Wales would fix it, but that is not on the cards.

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I hadn’t but yes you’re right. My active vocabulary whilst small is very usable. My passive vocabulary needs the ‘hooks’ you get with ssiw.


I see what you mean. I don’t think SSiW teaches things like pont, aber, llyn, mynydd. Names like Pontardawe say a lot and we, when in Wales, see such things every day, know what they mean, yet may honestly claim not to speak Welsh!

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Exactly, makes learning much easier in my opinion.

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I’ve been doing a little research…apparently at around 800 words 80-85% of conversational usage is covered.

The difficulty is of course comprehension of that when listening and filling in the gaps.

However, when you think about it after finishing the old course and the vocab units you’re almost there!

It’s practice and exposure i guess that fill in the gaps.

Now ok 800 words is only that of the average 3 year old but that’s not the same sort of that. A lot of their vocabulary is based around objects and not sentence structures.

So now it’s about vocab building in context i guess. Eg the north wales police courses etc.

Maybe the language organisations need to bang their heads together here and rather than the plodding misery of traditional approaches offer something which builds language in context. I’d love to do a cookery course in welsh for example.

Maybe i should start a business. Haha. Welsh learners weekends…
Cooking in welsh
Mathematics in welsh
Six nations in welsh

I used to wonder ‘why no course 4 or level 4’. I get it now.