In the 2020-21 winter semester, 324,729 international students enrolled in German universities. By contrast, this number was 302,157 in 2019 (source: Wissenschaft Weltoffen). Moreover, the number of TestDaF in 2019 was 47,510, a 163% increase since 2009. These data are a clear indication that the number of international students planning to study in Germany is increasing. Knowing the German language is crucial for any international student in Germany. This article is a guide to help you understand the many benefits of learning German. Also, discover the institutes for German language courses for international students.
Why should I learn German as an international student?
Learning German is not mandatory for international students if they are enrolled in programs where the medium of instruction is English. According to HochschulKompass, out of the 21,463 study programs in Germany, only 1,895 programs are taught in English.
There are many private universities in Germany that teach entirely in English. English-taught programs in private universities generally do not need international students to prove their German proficiency for admission.
English-taught programs are also available in public universities in Germany. Although public universities may seem preferable over private ones because of affordability, a few public universities may require international students to prove at least a basic or intermediate level of German for admission, even for their English-taught programs.
Therefore, knowing German language skills in advance can give students a wider choice of English-taught programs to apply to. Students do not have to limit themselves specifically to programs that waive German language requirements.
Knowing German as an international student in Germany presents several other benefits.
International students with sufficient proficiency in German will find it easier to interact with the local crowd. Only 56% of the total population in Germany can speak English.
Moreover, German skills may be a requirement for jobs in Germany. International students who plan on working part-time to support their finances while studying must know the language.
Is German easy to learn?
Learning any new language demands time and commitment. Many are under the impression that German is one of the difficult languages to learn. But it is quite the contrary. The points listed below can help put it into perspective.
- Both English and German belong to the Indo-European languages.
- The English language itself belongs to the Germanic group of languages.
- English and German are, to some extent, similar in structure.
- About 40% of the German vocabulary is similar to English.
- 80% of the most common words in English have German origins.
- German is a phonetic language; the pronunciation is easy to learn.
International students who are fluent in English may find it easy to adapt to German. Reaching the basic levels of German can be pretty quick. It takes approximately 8 weeks for a new German learner to reach the B1 (intermediate) level.
How is German proficiency measured?
The level of German proficiency one has is defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
- Levels A1 and A2: A1 and A2 are beginner levels. At this level, one acquires basic knowledge. Students with no prior knowledge of German should start at the A1 level.
- Level B1 and B2: These are at the intermediate level. German at this level is more advanced than at the beginner level. A B2 level learner can communicate satisfactorily in everyday life and at work.
- Level C1 and C2: These are the advanced levels of German. A person at the C2 level is considered to have reached near-native proficiency levels.
Institutes for German Language Courses for International Students
There are several options for German Language Courses for International Students. Many universities offer language courses. Several institutes offer language courses at various proficiency levels. Students can also learn the German language through Studienkollegs. Studienkollegs are places for receiving preparatory courses to pursue bachelor’s in Germany. Studienkollegs provide German language lessons along with lessons in other relevant subjects.
Below are a few institutes you can consider for German classes.
- ISM International School of Management-Language Center
- IIK Deutschland (Anda Sprachschule)
- GISMA Business School – Language Programs
- Studienkolleg Dusseldorf
- Studienkolleg Paderborn
Apart from the above ones, a popular choice to study German is the Goethe Institut. This institute is present across fourteen locations in Germany. Students can also choose to study online. Language courses are available from A1 to C1 levels, and students can choose to learn with or without a teacher.
For a comprehensive list of German language institutes in Germany, you can refer Fadaf database of more than 400 institutes. Fadaf is a non-profit association of institutions teaching German as a foreign language. It is also responsible for supervising DSH, the German Language Examination for University Admission.
Alternatively, students can refer to the DAAD database, which lists more than 240 language and short courses.
German language tests
When German is a prerequisite to studying at a German university, students must take a language test. There are two popular language tests: TestDaF and DSH.
TestDaF (Test Deutsch Als Fremdsprache or Test of German as a foreign language) is a certification for non-native German speakers who wish to study or work at German universities. The test is offered in 90 countries. It takes place six times a year. TestDaF has four parts: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. The questions are structured to test your everyday academic life. The results of the test are valid indefinitely. But some universities do not accept scores older than two to three years.
DSH or Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang is another popular test accepted by German universities. Many preparatory institutes in Germany offer the DSH course.
There are also cases when international students are not required to take a German test.
- If they have Abitur at a German high school
- If they have the Goethe C2 Certificate
- If they have the German Language Level 2 Diploma from the Conference of Ministers of Education
- If they have passed the TELC Deutsch C1 Hochschule exam
Knowing the German language to settle in Germany
International students who have completed higher education and are working in Germany can settle permanently in Germany, provided they meet the following:
- Held a residence permit for employment as a “qualified professional” for at least two years.
- Employed in a job that adequately suits educational qualifications.
- Made payments toward statutory pension insurance for two years.
- German proficiency of at least CEFR B1 level.
- Must have adequate living space.
Holders of EU Blue Card can also apply for permanent residency within just 21 months if they have German fluency of CEFR B1.
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