How many words do you know?

Test your receptive and productive vocabulary in different languages. What percentage of the 5000 most frequent words have you mastered?

For each language, you can test your “receptive” or “productive” vocabulary by clicking on the respective term.

Note: In order to make our vocabulary tests even better and more reliable, we carry out regular statistical analyses on the quality of individual test items. For this purpose, we store the results of our free online vocabulary tests. No personal or technical data is collected. By using our vocabulary tests, you consent to the storage of your test results.


Vocabulary in a Foreign Language

Vocabulary size is an important component in learning a foreign language.
Research in this area suggests that there are certain thresholds of vocabulary size.

Thus a certain amount of vocabulary is necessary in order to cope with tasks in the foreign language, such as reading unknow authentic texts and gain adequate understanding without great delays.

Vocabulary Level – Word Frequency

The vocabulary tests aim to assess participants’ vocabulary knowledge on levels of 1000 words each. These levels are based on high-frequency vocabulary lists.

The results indicate the corresponding reading levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).


Modelled after Vocabulary Level Tests

The tests were modelled after Nation’s Vocabulary Levels Test for English
and are based on the assumption that more frequent words are acquired earlier than less frequent ones.

Productive and receptive vocabulary levels are assessed separately. The term receptive (or passive) vocabulary refers to the words that a learner can understand – or whose meaning he or she can deduce using strategies – while the term productive (or active) vocabulary refers to the words that the learner is able to actively use. In general, a learner’s receptive vocabulary is significantly larger than his or her productive vocabulary.

The productive test comprises 90 samples, the receptive one includes 150.

Each of the tests consists of five general vocabulary subtests, which measure the vocabulary size on the levels 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000.

The vocabulary levels of German are based on the frequency lists developed from the Herder/BYU-corpus.
The test section “The 1000 most frequent words in German” includes vocabulary with a frequency rank ranging from 1 (the most frequent word in the corpus) to 1000.
“The 2000 most frequent words in German” tests the learner’s knowledge of words with a frequency rank of 1001 to 2000, and so on.
The words used for the respective distractors, definitions, and surrounding sentences also come from either the tested level or lower levels.

This website can be used for testing a learner’s knowledge of the 5000 most frequent words in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • German
  • English
  • French

  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Korean
  • Russian

  • Spanish
  • Turkish
  • Finnish
  • Dutch
  • Czech

Structure and Application

General Information

Below, you can find information on the structure and application of the vocabulary tests, as well as examples of productive and receptive question formats.

The productive test consists of 18 cloze items per subtest. The target word is surrounded by one or two sentences.
As many letters are provided as are needed to disambiguate the item.

Example: In Britain, children must go to s________ between the ages of four and sixteen.

The receptive test contains ten items per subtest. From a drop-down menu with six words, three have to be chosen that match the given words or phrases.

This type of task offers several advantages:

  • For one, the existence of three distractors, which belong to the same frequency level as the target words, allows a large number of words to be tested within a short time (60 per level).
  • In addition, participants have to apply multiple kinds of knowledge in solving the tasks, while the guessing probability is kept low.


Time limit

There is a time limit of 30 minutes for each test.

Tasks should be completed without using a dictionary.

Test results

80% of points per level (1000, 2000, etc.) are needed for a level to be counted as passed. 80% equate to:

  • 24 out of 30 points per level on the receptive test
  • 14 out of 18 points per level on the productive test

After completing all tasks, the window “Test Results” will appear. Under “Open details” the score for each level is listed.


Which conclusion do the test results allow?

The results achieved on the vocabulary tests allow conclusions as to participants’ reading proficiency level as laid down in the CEFR.

  • 1000 and 2000 >> A2
    Successful completion of levels 1000 and 2000 indicates a reading level of A2.
  • 3000 >> B1
    Knowledge of the most frequent 3000 words suggests a reading level of B1.
  • 4000 and 5000 >> B2
    Completing all five levels implies a reading level of B2.

Which conclusions do the test results NOT allow?

The results do not allow any specific conclusions as to the participants’ proficiency in speaking, listening, or writing. The productive test only assesses active vocabulary knowledge, not productive language proficiency in general.

Word Lists

The following are some of the publications that have been used as reference materials in the development of the vocabulary tests:


Baudot, Jean (1992): Fréquences d’utilisation des mots en français écrit contemporain. Montréal: Presses de l’Univ. de Montréal.

Buckwalter, Tim; Parkinson, Dilworth B. (2011): A frequency dictionary of Arabic. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Davies, Mark; Davies, Kathy Hayward (2018): A frequency dictionary of Spanish. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Davies, Mark; Gardner, Dee (2011): A frequency dictionary of contemporary American English. Word sketches, collacates, and thematic lists. London, New York: Routledge.

Davies, Mark; Preto-Bay, Ana Maria Raposo (2008): A frequency dictionary of Portuguese. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Jones, Randall L.; Tschirner, Erwin (2011): A frequency dictionary of German. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Lonsdale, Deryle; Le Bras, Yvon (2011): A frequency dictionary of French. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Šarov, Sergej A.; Umanskaya, Elena; Wilson, James (2013): A frequency dictionary of Russian. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Tono, Yukio; Makawa, Kikuo; Yamazaki, Makoto (2013): A frequency dictionary of Japanese. Core vocabulary for learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Tschirner, Erwin (2008): Lextra. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Englisch. Nach Themen. Berlin: Cornelsen.

Tschirner, Erwin (2008): Lextra. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Französisch. Nach Themen. Berlin: Cornelsen.

Tschirner, Erwin (2008): Lextra. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Spanisch. Nach Themen. Berlin: Cornelsen.

Tschirner, Erwin (2010): Lextra. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Italienisch. Nach Themen. Berlin: Cornelsen.

Tschirner, Erwin (2010): Lextra. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Portugiesisch. Nach Themen. Berlin: Cornelsen.

Tschirner, Erwin (2010): Lextra. Grund- und Aufbauwortschatz Russisch. Nach Themen. Berlin: Cornelsen.

Xiao, Richard; Rayson, Paul; McEnery, Tony (2009): A Frequency Dictionary of Mandarin Chinese. Core Vocabulary for Learners. London, New York: Routledge.

Further Reading

Here you can find suggestions for further reading on the subject of vocabulary:

Testing and Teaching Vocabulary

Nation, Paul (1983)

In: Guidelines 5 (1), 12-25
Available online

Teaching and Learning Vocabulary

Nation, Paul (1990)

New York: Newbury House

Learning Vocabulary in another Language

Nation, Paul (2001)

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

A Vocabulary Size Test

Nation, Paul/Beglar, David (2007)

The Language Teacher 31 (7), 9-13.
Available online


Nation, Paul; Laufer, Batia (2012)

In: Gass, S./Mackey, A. (Hrsg.): The Routledge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. New York: Routledge, 163-176.

Assessing Vocabulary

Read, John (2000)

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Developing and Exploring the Behaviour of Two New Versions of the Vocabulary Levels Test

Schmitt, Norbert; Schmitt, Diane; Clapham, Caroline (2001)

Language Testing 18 (1), 55-88.

Review Article. Instructed Second Language Vocabulary Learning.

Schmitt, Norbert (2008)

Language Teaching Research 12 (3), 329-363.
Available online at:

The percentage of words known in a text and reading comprehension

Schmitt, Norbert/Jiang, Xiangying/Grabe, William (2011)

Modern Language Journal 95 (1), S. 26-43.
Available online at:

Der Wortschatzstand von Studierenden zu Beginn ihres Anglistikstudiums

Tschirner, Erwin (2004)

Fremdsprachen Lehren und Lernen 33, 114-127

Breadth of Vocabulary and Advanced English Study: An Empirical Investigation.

Tschirner, Erwin (2004)

Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 1 (1), 27-39

Korpora, Häufigkeitslisten, Wortschatzerwerb

Tschirner, Erwin (2005)

In: Heine, A./Hennig, M./Tschirner, E. (Hrsg.): Deutsch als Fremdsprache – Konturen und Perspektiven eines Fachs. München: Iudicium. 133-149

Häufigkeitsverteilungen im Deutschen und ihr Einfluss auf den Erwerb des Deutschen als Fremdsprache

Tschirner, Erwin (2006)

In: Corina, E./Marello, C./Onesti, C. (Hrsg.): Atti del XII Congresso Internationale di Lessicografia. Alessandria: Edizioni dell’ Orso. 1277-1288


The vocabulary tests were developed primarily in the context of the research project on “Assessment Literacy and Skills Development” at the ITT e.V. This project was funded by the Cornelsen publishing house.