Learning German

A teacher is teaching her pupils

Where can I learn German?

If you want to learn the German language, you can attend a language course. German courses are offered in every level at different education establishments in Berlin. You can take your course at adult education centres, private language schools, language institutions and universities as well as in culture centres and associations. In this list, you can search for language schools in Berlin. As an alternative or in addition to a language course, you can complete an online course.

There are different language grade levels, which are indicated by abbreviations (e.g. A1 or B2). An overview of the various language grade levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages and their respective requirements can be found on the website europaeischer-referenzrahmen.de.

Can I attend an integration course?

An integration course is a German course with an additional course element in which knowledge of German history, culture and the political system is imparted. This course element is called the “orientation course”.

The integration course is offered by various providers and subsidised by the German federal office for migration and refugees (BAMF). If you are entitled to attend the integration course, you pay only a cost contribution that is currently 1.95 euro per hour. The entitlement exists for you if you have received a residence permit for the first time, which was issued for work, for family reunification, as a result of recognition of refugee status or the awarding of subsidiary protection, or for other humanitarian purposes (§ 23 par. 2 or par. 4, § 25 par. 4a clause 3 or § 25b of the German residence act). You can also be registered for an integration course by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, if you are a legal long-term resident of an EU state and therefore also a legal resident in Germany.

You can also claim a place on an integration course if you are entitled to long-term residence in another EU state and thus also entitled to residence in Germany (§ 38a of the German residence act). The entitlement expires one year after issue of your first residence permit. Minors and young adults who attend school and people with identifiably low integration needs are not entitled to attend the integration course – particularly if the person already speaks German adequately (level B1).

If you complete the integration course successfully within two years, you can apply for a refund of half the subscription paid. If you are in receipt of benefits to cover the cost of living under SGB II or SGB XII (German social code) or of benefits under the asylum seekers’ benefits act, the contribution to costs of the integration course can also be completely waived for you.

Asylum seekers in the asylum process can also attend a subsidised integration course if enough places are available and if they come from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea or Somalia and no other EU state is responsible for their asylum process.

Even if you have no entitlement to a subsidised integration course, you can attend an integration course or similar provisions at many language schools but you must then pay the full costs for yourself.

Can I attend a German course for asylum seekers?

If you are not allowed to participate in an integration course funded by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, you can attend alternative state-funded German courses. The adult education centres (VHS) offer free German courses in all districts of Berlin for refugees. On the multilingual website, you can find all the important information for registration.

Which other provisions are available for learning the German language?

Alongside the general German course, there are work-related courses. The state-funded work-related German language support in accordance with § 45a of the Residence Act (AufenthG) is an opportunity to learn languages for people with migration backgrounds, who want to improve their chances in the job market and their level of German to C2 level. Persons with a residence permit as well as citizens of the EU have a claim to participation. Also, asylum seekers in the asylum procedure can take part in a funded integration course if you come from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea or Somalia and if no other EU state is responsible for your asylum procedure. The courses can relate to measures for professional integration and employment promotion.
Refugees without access to a federal-funded work-related language course can take part in state-funded work-related language course. The basic language offer in Berlin is supplemented by the region’s ESF-scheme of work-related language support for refugees. This offer is supplemented by an internship. Especially for adults with migration backgrounds, there are adult courses organised by the adult education centres, which take place during school time for your children.