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Integration courses in Germany, and where to learn German?

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You’ve successfully begun your first week at your new work in Germany. The baker down the street even knows what kind of rolls and coffee you like for breakfast. Now you’d like to discuss politics with your colleagues at lunch. Or you want to know more about the German customs – what people eat for supper, for example, or the tradition of taking a walk on Sunday. This is what the integration courses are all about. Not only will you learn German or improve your German; you and other newcomers will learn more about German, life and work in Germany and its citizens, traditions, history and much more. In addition, you will be able to make new friends.

What is an integration course?

Integration courses in Germany consist of a language and an orientation component. They cover everyday topics such as the workplace, shopping, television and radio. Participants could learn about dealing with administrative offices, writing emails and letters, and interviewing for a new job in Germany. You will also learn more about Germany as a country, from a number of perspectives: politics and culture, how people live and interact in Germany, and the values on which German society is based. The language learning course usually consists of 600 hours of instruction, the orientation course takes 60 hours. There are special courses for parents, women, young adults up to the age of 27 and other groups. At the end of each course, all participants should take a final examination, free of charge.

Who can participate in an integration course?

German integration courses are intended for anyone who has recently arrived in Germany and whose German language skills are not yet enough for dealing with the demands of everyday life. Whether you may take an integration course or, in some other cases, are required to do so, depends on your country of origin and your level of fluency. The most important guidelines are these:

If you are a citizen of the EU, you are welcome to participate in an integration course if you want to learn the German language or improve your German, provided that a place is available. You are not required to do so.

Non-EU citizens, they are also allowed to take courses. If your German is not yet particularly good, maybe, under some circumstances, be required to take a course. Are you employed and unable to take a full- or part-time course? You may be free from participating. Upon issuing your residence permit, the foreigners’ registration office would let you know whether you are allowed or required to take an integration course. Special rules apply to German citizens and to ethnic German immigrants.

The website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees contains an overview of the relevant rules.

Just note that you are normally required to pay only 1.20 euros per hour of instruction – the remainder is covered by the Federal Office for Refugees and Migration.

How to find an integration course

  • As a non-EU citizen, you can go to your local foreigners’ registration office, which will issue you a certificate allowing (Berechtigungsschein) you to participate in an German integration course.
  • EU citizens should contact the to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to apply to become a place in an integration course.
  • The next step is to find a course provider (Kurstraeger). The foreigners’ one of the registration offices or the migration advisory centre will help you. You can also search using WebGIS, the online information portal of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
  • When you have found a provider in your area, make contact both in person or by telephone. The provider will help you to select an appropriate integration course and let you know when it is ready to begin.

Benefits for you

Regular instruction from well-trained teachers will help you to become fluent in German quickly, and you will soon feel comfortable in your new surroundings. Taking the final examination offers and additional advantages: after passing the test, you will be issued an Integration Course Certificate. This may allows you to claim naturalisation after you have lived in Germany for seven years, rather than the usual eight.

There is another advantage: If you pass the final examination within two years of being accepted into the course, and the half of the course fee will be refunded to you.

What else to learn German

In addition to integration courses, there are other courses available as well:

„Deutsch für den Beruf“ (German for the workplace). This course is for people whose need a German language improvement and who are either looking for a job or interested in further training in their current jobs in Germany. In addition to providing typical language instruction, the course may help you practice your interviewing skills or you can learn more about a specific subject that is relevant to your job. There is also a practical component which offers insight into working life through internships and visits to businesses. These courses are tailored to your own degree of fluency and specialised skills. Detailed information about this course can be found here.

The courses for your children are available as well, as German classes are offered for people of every age. Some of the classes are tailored to the interests and language skills of children and young people. This is very important: When the young children begin learning German immediately, it is easier for them to adapt to their new environment, make some new friends and start to feel at home in Germany. Further details are available here.

In some other cases employers provide language coaches or contribute to the cost of a language course – just ask your boss or supervisor.

See Also: Life in Germany, find a place where you would feel at home

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