One of my students isn’t seeing any progress with his English, but I had an idea to help build his confidence. “We’ll look at a list of the 1000 most common words in English. You’ll see how many important words you know, and you’ll realise how much you’ve learned in the past few months.”
Off I went to the Internet–and found 1000s of links for lists of those 1000 words. Suddenly, I realised that this wouldn’t be so easy.
- British or North American English?
- Written or spoken?
- Academic or general?
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of these lists, but many don’t give us any information about how the list was created, or the list probably won’t help you. For example, I found one list which is very popular, but it is based on 29 literary novels. The words are a little old-fashioned, so it may not be a very useful list. (Unless you plan to read a lot of novels!)
This list is nicely organised. It’s from the British National Corpus, which uses a combination of computers and human researchers to study how words are used in our language. If a word has a , it is from the top 300 spoken words, and it if has a  it is from the top 300 written words.
Feeling confident? Time to grow! This link will give you a list of words based on the top 1000. You may need a dictionary to help you, but you’ll understand many of the words by looking at the prefixes and suffixes.
You could also try a course on Memrise, to help you remember this group of words. Again, there is more than one course! The search function on the Memrise website/app is not very good, so here is a link to help you start: Course links
(If you would like to search for a different type of course, in the Google box type “site:www.memrise.com Pharmaceutical Japanese)