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1000 Chinese words in 3 months

Chinese language is very popular nowadays, but it is still very difficult to learn. Use of MNEMONICS is not really widespread in learning Chinese, although exactly this method might help you to accelerate learning dramatically.

1000 words – how much is it for a foreign language?

Chinese native speakers, use about 25 000 – 35 000 words on average. Foreigners with advanced level of Chinese use 9-12 000 words.

joshua Foer became
US Memory Champion after
just one year of preparation

Chinese kids learn Chinese characters (hieroglyphs, hanzi) from kindergarten untill high school and finally they need to know about 3000 of most common characters.

It means that 9 – 12 000 words in pinyin is sufficient for speaking and understanding Chinese; and 3000 of hieroglyphs is sufficient for reading and writing.

Of course, each language has much more words than this number. Chinese has no less than 80 000 words in total. Nevertheless 10 000 words are most frequent and useful. According to “Zipf’s Law”, 10 000 of most popular words are used in 90% of oral speaking situations.

To make sure, check the size of your vocabulary (how many words you already know):

This is an independent project, that helps to find out how many words you already know in each language.

Now, the question again, 1000 words - is it big or small number? It’s a HUGE NUMBER!

Zipf’s Law: a small number of words occur very frequently, while the vast majority of words occur very rarely.
Credit: @ASvanevik,
Most of the students who learn Chinese as foreign language by high school time usually know about 1000 – 2000 words (pre-intermediate level). If the student knows 3000 – 4000 (intermediate level) it’s a very good result. Only outstanding students retain greater vocabulary.

If you learn 1000 new Chinese words in a quarter, you can increase your language level dramatically just within one year. Even if you need preparation for exam in one month, it is still very efficient.

Some teachers say that reading, listening and speaking are also very important. Its true, but your vocabulary (how many words you know) is more important. It’s a very base for everything: listening, speaking or reading.

When speaking – you use only the words from your memory (your vocab) When listening – you recognize words, stored in your memory and try to reconstruct the whole idea (trying to infer the meaning of the words that are not yet in your memory). The same applies to reading and writing.

Last but not the least question is: why we need 10 years in school, if this vocabulary can be learned in three months?

Just because in 21st century we have more MODERN AND INNOVATIVE learning methods and tools.

These new methods are built on Neuroscience and new understanding of our brain and memory working principles.

Cultivating memory is a new trend globally. There are World and National Championships in memorization (

The Champions are able to learn new foreign language in two weeks: from scratch to advanced level.

You can be just a small champion and learn it within one or two years. According to academic research published in 2017, everyone is able to use the same methods that champions use and improve their results dramatically.

US Memory Champion Joshua Foer started from scratch and achieved Champion level in one year. He described this way in his book. You don’t need to become a Champion, but you definitely can strengthen your memory too!

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