Eric is a beginner language learner eager to learn French. He knows that fluency in la langue de Molière will boost his career prospects, and while he’s not a big fan of French cinema (is there such a person?), he can’t wait to travel to southern France next year and immerse himself in the local culture. After reading the latest fashionable language learning blogs out there, downloading the latest language learning and flashcard apps, and purchasing 2-3 expensive language learning textbooks, he feels like he’s ready to dive in. His first goal: learn 50 new words a day.

That’s it: 50 new words, every day. That’s 18,250 words in the space of a year, the approximate size of the (active) vocabulary of a native speaker. He’s even downloaded a list of the 2000 most common French words off of Wiktionary to get started, he’s found some cool pre-packaged decks of flashcards with fancy pictures, and with Duolingo freshly installed on his new shiny smartphone (that he’s just gotten for free with a 10-year contract), learning French is going to be a breeze. I mean, sure, learning 50 new words per day is a challenge, but hey, he’s got the tools for it. After a year, he’ll be pretty much fluent in French, with an impressive vocabulary that’ll be the envy of his friends and classmates.

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