When I was learning English, I was greatly helped by a series of vocabulary lists, graded from 1st to 12th grade, and consisting of words that students in those grades were supposed to master1. After learning that vocabulary, I moved on to SAT and GRE prep books, for college-level and graduate-school-level vocabulary.

I'm looking for a similar graded approach to German vocabulary.

I am sure that something like this must exist for German, but I have not hit upon the right keywords and/or search strategy to find it. Any pointers would be appreciated.

I should point out that I am not interested in lists directed at learners of German as a second language. I am (primarily) interested in lists whose target audience consists of (school- and college-age) native speakers of German.

1I found these lists by chance, as a supplement in a dictionary. This all happened decades before Google.

  • 1
    German children learn reading from a Lesebuch in their German classes. Usually there is one per school grade 1-4, with texts written for the increasing vocabulary and grammar experience.
    – Janka
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 23:21
  • @Janka: Thanks for your comment. If you were to search for something approximating what I'm asking about, what keywords (in German, of course) would you use?
    – kjo
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


I guess you are looking for:

Wortschatz, Grundwortschatz or Basiswortschatz.

These terms are used in the context of educating German at school, usually at primary school.

Here is an example from Brandenburg and Berlin with the Grundwortschatz for grades 1 and 2 as well as 3 and 4. This document lists the Mindestwortschatz for the primary school in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Hamburg offers a digital version of its Basiswortschatz for primary schools.

I am not aware of such lists for elder pupils.

Edit: New links to Grundwortschatz Berlin grade 1 and 2 and grade 3 and 4

  • 1
    The Brandenburg PDF is no longer on-line, there is an archived version though.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 15:51
  • @RDBury I've added the current pdfs for Berlin
    – Arsak
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 17:32
  • 1
    Apparently the earlier one is meant for teachers while the new ones are meant for students. There's nothing wrong with that, since both formats are useful, but I thought it was worth pointing out.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 5:51

While I understand, that this is not what you ask for, others coming across the question may be interested:

I never heard something of something corresponding to your 12 levels. The closest I'm aware of are the word lists of the language proficiency levels, one example is B1-Liste des Goethe-Instituts.

For books intended for children there are publisher specific classification schemes for the age range, which is somehow related, but not directly resulting in word lists.

  • My problem with CEFR is that it seems to be heavily biased for travelers. For example treten is a very common word not on the A1 (Goethe) list, but ankreuzen is an uncommon word that is. If you're interest is primarily to watch a Netflix show in German then you're much better off learning treten than ankreuzen, unless it's a very, very boring show.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 16:09

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