I have recently applied for a job in Germany and they require job candidates to speak basic German. When I asked what was the basics in terms of levels (i.e. CEFR A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2,...), they responded they wanted me to have a "German Globish".

Globish is an subset of English that is reduced to around 1500 words whose goal is to permit speakers of various languages to be able to get around with English.

Since English is a much different language to learn than German, I was wondering what would be the German Globish ? There are many more words in German than in English and the construction of phrases is very different.

And I would also like to know if you have any advice on how to learn basic German in accelerated speed. I spent 12 years following German classes but the context (poorly skilled teachers, no practice, etc..) made it much harder for me to learn German that it has been for learning English.

  • 7
    ‘There are much more words in German than there are in English’ — that phrase is something between a bad generalisation and outright wrong.
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:27
  • 2
    Globish is a trademark. On the right side of the website, you can find all words of "Globish-German" globish.com/?page=globish_scanner&lang=en_utf8 (although I don't think the 1500 German words in the list are as important as the English equivelents)
    – Iris
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:36
  • @Iris Shouldn’t that be an answer?
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:39
  • @Jan I'm telling that cause when I'm making a sentence in Frenh, my mother tongue I would use less words in English and less complicated phrase structure. But in german it gets more complicated with the different genders, the more intense phrase construction and the system with words put end to end.
    – MopMop
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:54
  • @Jan This article www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/welliott/… claims - unproven - (p. 48) English had ...five to ten times more words than German or French... (which I find somewhat exaggerated, however - I'd rather assume they just have more collectors there ;) )
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:24

3 Answers 3


First, I think that those employers were confusing Globish or International English with either Basic English (originally proposed by C. K. Ogden) or Joachim Grzega's Basic Global English.

Ogden's Basic English had a core vocabulary of 1200 words that could be expanded to as many as 2600 words. Grzega's Basic Global English (BGE) used a core vocabulary of 750 words.

Since some of the comments mentioned "Leichte Sprache", it is important to bear in mind that "Leichte Sprache" and "Einfache Sprache" have a different goal than "Global English", and the two concepts are sometimes confused:

  • Leichte Sprache is the simplest of the two and is primarily aimed at people with cognitive impairments.
  • Einfache Sprache is a bit more complex but still avoids foreign words and complex sentences.

(See Leichte und Einfache Sprache – Versuch einer Definition and Worin besteht der Unterschied zwischen der einfachen und der leichten Sprache? for more details about the differences.)

Leichte Sprache is written according to specific rules (see e.g. Leichte Sprache - Ein Ratgeber), but I am not aware of word lists for Leichte Sprache or Einfache Sprache. (Similarly, there are no word lists for TestDaF.)

The goal of Leichte Sprache and Einfache Sprache is not to provide a simpler language for non-native speakers, unlike "Global English". So when you look for vocabulary lists for German, you are most likely to find the following two types of resources: vocabulary lists for school children in Germany and vocabulary for people who learn German as a foreign language.

How to speed up your language learning is a very different question. There are several places where you can ask for advice on this, e.g. Language Learning Stack Exchange.

You can also read Gabriel Wyner's article Is there a more efficient way to learn vocabulary? Wyner is a great fan of space repetition systems such as Anki. He recommends learning the 1000 most frequent words in your target language as a way to get started. You can find word frequency lists for German on Wiktionary.

Update in response to tofro's comment "I honestly don't know of any place, book or course that would aim at teaching Leichte Sprache."

Leichte Sprache is, indeed, not a language-teaching tool but for native speakers of German. There are several books for people who want to use Leichte Sprach, and they are clearly not language learning resources for German as a foreign language:

  • 1
    Maybe this answer is a bit misleading - I honestly don't know of any place, book or course that would aim at teaching Leichte Sprache.
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:15
  • The main reason being that Leichte Sprache aims to teach native speakers how to write easy-to-understand German and not foreigners how to understand it...
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:22
  • 1
    @tofro I added Leichte Sprache - Ein Ratgeber to my post, and that is not the only set of guidelines that I have found. Of course, if you mean language course for foreigners, no, they would not teach Leichte Sprache. I don't think that was implied in my answer.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:24
  • 1
    Point is, that was what was asked for in the question.
    – tofro
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:58

You might want to have a look into the "Grundwortschatz Deutsch" - That is a list of ~1500 words (notice the number is close to "Globish") that were collected by the German Goethe-Institut and make up the complete vocabulary for A1/A2 competence level (So you have the expected level as well).

A basic vocabulary is a start, but obviously not enough to learn a language - You might want to look into Goethe Institut compliant courses in your country that bring you to A1/A2 proficiency.


Given that Globish is an artifical language and decidedly borrowing from English, there may be no easy answer.

I guess, that Leichte Sprache is something in that direction, but did not find any vocabulary count.

  • 3
    That's because Leichte Sprache does not limit the number of words.
    – user4973
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:42
  • Thank you @guidot I was not looking for an exact word count but if there was a similar under language in German I could give a try to. That being said, I don't know what my interviewer meant by German Globish...
    – MopMop
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 14:57
  • 1
    Be careful when using "Leichte Sprache" as a easy learning tool, because sometimes words are written wrongly for the purpose of better readability, e.g. "Geschwister-Paar" instead of Geschwisterpaar (lebenshilfe.de/de/leichte-sprache/index.php)
    – Iris
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 15:22
  • @Iris Which rule for the Bindestrich prohibits the use of a hyphen in "Geschwister-Paar"?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 19:03
  • @Christophe Strobbe, I don't find a specific rule that prohibits the use of a hyphen here, but on the other hand non of the rules supports the use of an hyphen in this case either. Still "Geschwister-Paar" would be considered an mistake in a school essay as its spelling is "Geschwisterpaar" (duden.de/rechtschreibung/Geschwisterpaar)
    – Iris
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 9:20

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