Common European Languages Framework (CEFR) and Vocabulary Size

The Common European Languages Framework does not provide a clear vocabulary size for any of its levels, so we do not know how many knows words are expected at each level.

Milton and Alexiou have attempted to do that in 2009.

Here’s their table for English and French, with the addition of Greek from them too.

Vocabulary size and the CEFR (Milton and Alexiou 2009)

CEFR level Vocabulary size: English Vocabulary size: French Vocabulary size: Modern Greek
A1 <1500 1160 1486
A2 1500 – 2500 1650 2237
B1 2750 – 3250 2422 3288
B2 3250 – 3750 2630 3956
C1 3750 – 4500 3212
C2 4500 – 5000 3525

This does have to be taken with a grain of salt, however, especially in light of the fact that not only does this not take grammar into account, but also that vocabulary is such a fluid thing, and it is not clear where words begin, end, or where word forms morph into other words.


  1. source: Milton J and T. Alexiou (2009). Vocabulary size and the Common European Framework of Reference in Languages. In B.Richards, H. Daller, D. Malvern, P. Meara, J. Milton and J. Treffers-Daller (eds), Vocabulary studies in first and second language acquisition. Palgrave: Macmillan, 194-211.
  2. James Milton* and Thomaï Alexiou** in Developing a vocabulary size test in Greek as a foreign language (Advances in Research on Language Acquisition and Teaching: Selected Papers, © 2010 GALA

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