There are many ways to learn German: schools, universities, cultural centres, clubs and associations, adult education colleges and private language schools all offer German language courses. Do not think that the most expensive course has to be the best. Instead, compare them carefully. How many lesson hours are on offer? How many students are in each class? What are the con- tents of the course? What training and qualifications do the teachers have?
If you wish to live in Germany, you should try to learn German as quickly as possible. It is important to do so to meet new people, to make yourself understood in everyday life, and to nd work. If you learn German in a language course then you know that you are learning to speak properly right from the beginning.
Integration courses: language and more
The integration course (Integrationskurs) is one way that the German state helps you to learn German. You can attend one of these courses if you do not speak German well enough to make yourself understood in everyday life. Under certain circumstances you actually have to attend an integration course. Integration courses are subsidised by the government and consist of a language course together with an orientation course. Generally the integration course lasts 660 lesson hours (each lesson hour is 45 minutes). There are full-time and part-time courses available. You can go online to find out if you fulfil the conditions to attend an integration course: www.bamf.de/integrationskurs.
The language course has 600 lesson hours, sometimes 900. You learn how to talk in German about important aspects of everyday life, including:
- Shopping and housing
- Work and career
- Educating and raising children
- Leisure time and social interaction
- Media and travel
You will also learn how to write letters and e-mails in German, to ll out forms, to make telephone calls and to apply for jobs.
The last module of the integration course is called an “orientation course” and usually lasts for 60 lesson hours. You will learn about and discuss the following topics:
The German legal system, history and culture
- Rights and obligations in Germany
- The region where you live
- Important values in German society, such as freedom of worship, tolerance and equal rights
Culture in the country where you come from
Special integration courses
People learn best when they are in groups with others who have similar interests and needs. This is also true for integration courses. So special integration courses for certain target groups are also available in addition to the general version:People learn best when they are in groups with others who have similar interests and needs. This is also true for integration courses. So special integration courses for certain target groups are also available in addition to the general version:
Literacy courses for people who need some help with reading and writing
- Women’s integration courses where only women attend and which offer a special focus on their needs
- Parents’ integration courses which have a particular focus on issues relating to education and bringing up children
- Youth integration courses which help prepare young people for an apprenticeship or higher education
- Catch-up courses for people who have been living in Germany for some time and have a special language learning need
The integration course is also sometimes offered as a 430-hour intensive course for people who can learn quickly.
Integration course certificate
You have to take two tests, one at the end of the language course and one after the orientation course. If you pass both tests then you receive the “Integration Course Certificate” (Zertifikat Integrationskurs). This certifies that you have gained an adequate knowledge of German and important basic knowledge about German society. If you have a certificate of successful participation in the Integration Course this entitles you to apply for German citizenship after seven years of regular residence in Germany (normally the requirement is eight years). And the certificate can also be of great help when you are applying for a job.