What is vocabulary frequency?
Every word, including each word in German, has its own frequency score – a score of how often a word is used in speech. Hence, the higher the frequency, the likelier its usefulness and relevance for you as a German learner. Especially if you are a beginner, you are much better off with learning the frequent words as the chances of applying them quickly and using them to expand your vocabulary are much higher.
Example of most frequent words
haben – 7th most frequent word
auch – 16th most frequent word
das Jahr – 51st most frequent word
Examples of less frequent words
sich erstrecken – 3300th most frequent word
die Verblinlichkeit – 4024th most frequent word
So if I learn the most common words, then I am fluent in German, right?
Short answer – hold the ponies, not so fast.
First of all, it would be extremely tedious to learn the lists of top 500, 1000, 3000, 100500 words by heart as rote memorization of such lists without any examples or relevance to you would be awfully boring and thoroughly ineffective. In other words, you’ll forget them faster than you master them. Your brain has to build bridges (associations) to those words and repeating the word-translation pair on its own won’t help you retrieve these words when you actually need them. Learning in context is much more fun and powerful.
Second of all, mastering a language requires learning multiples skills that build on each other. Specifically, you should be able to produce the language in a written or oral form, comprehend it via reading or listening and must understand and command the auxiliary skills or rather building blocks such as grammar and vocabulary. Thus mastering any one of these skills or blocks without the others, no matter how good you are, will not make you fluent.
After all, there is a reason why there are so many of us with B1 or B2 certificates who are not confident speakers…
Instead, use these lists as a reference, explore them, look up the words that you don’t understand, and commit to learning the words which you can start using literally tomorrow. In short, don’t learn stuff that you won’t use.
German vocabulary lists
- Vocabulary list for the Goethe A1 exam
- Vocabulary list for the Goethe A2 exam
- Vocabulary list for the Goethe B1 exam
- Aspekt Neu vocabulary list for B1
- Aspekt Neu vocabulary list for B2
- Aspekt Neu vocabulary list for C1
- Top 300 most commonly used German nouns, verbs, and adjectives with examples
- 1000 most commonly spoken German words with translations from 1000mostcommongwords.com
- List of simple, common German words from the University of Michigan. According to the author, up to 50% of German texts consist of these words
- Top 500 German words from the German professor
- The 500 most frequently used German words from ‘frequencylists’ blog
- Top 1000 words generated from the movie subtitles
- Telc A1.1 vocabulary list with translations
- Telc A1.2 vocabulary list with translations
- Telc A2.1 vocabulary list with translations
- Telc A2.2 vocabulary list with translations
- Telc B1.1 vocabulary list with translations
- Telc B1.2. vocabulary list with translations
- Telc B1-B2 vocabulary list with translations
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