Posted by: lyonenglishnetwork | December 12, 2009

How many times do you have to hear a word before you’re able to use it ?

I have a question for you:

How many times do you have to hear a word before you’re able to use it ?

Please post in comments.



  1. Well, it depends but very often just once.
    But this only because I’ve always been keen on learning new words and learning english is of great interest to me.
    I think for most of our students, 3 times is a good average.
    And you?

  2. well, I’m trying to learn Spanish at the moment and I reckon I need one, two or three times.

    However, more than one person has told me that seven are supposed to be needed.


    • Well, in fact, like I said, I think it depends on many factors among which : level, age, motivation, interest, etc… etc…
      When I said only one time, it’s mostly because when I meet a new word, I’m very interested in finding an opportunity to use it myself.

      7 times? sounds both like a lot and not much…

      And what about you Paul?

  3. Hi,
    I remember the number 50 times being cited when I was first a teacher for the number of times you have to use a new word before it becomes part of your active vocabulary.
    A parallel poser: How many times, in English and for English speakers, do you have to look up a word to remember what it means eg. words like stentorian, seredipitous, oleaginous etc. ? Problem is, we don’t use these words very often and so are in the same boat as English language learners.

  4. Well… with some of my students it certainly feels like 50 times sometimes.

    And also I think often if they can’t see a “translation” in French, they won’t be able to understand it so easily or use it.

    For new words in English I suppose I have to know the meaning before I’m able to use them but if I’m interested, a few times should suffice.

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