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 at various levels all over Berlin. In this list you will find language schools in Berlin. The Goethe institute also offers German courses in Germany and almost every other country.

For refugees, the “German Courses for All!” network offers various language courses.

Advice services on the subject of education and language courses can be found on the website of Bildungsberatung Berlin (educational advice).

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 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 permitted to attend a subsidised integration course of the German federal office for migration and refugees, you can attend alternative German courses. This is conditional upon your asylum process not yet having been completed. The adult education centres (VHS) offer free German courses in all districts of Berlin.

However, you can also attend courses at schools, universities, cultural centres, clubs and private language schools. For example, the Ich will Deutsch lernen” (I want to learn German) initiative and Bildungswerk der Wirtschaft in Berlin und Brandenburg” (education workshop for the economy in Berlin and Brandenburg) offer German courses.

Especially for parents, there are German courses from the adult education centres, which take place during the school hours of their children. These courses can also be found in the course search of the adult education centres.

Which other provisions are available for learning the German language?

There are other provisions in addition to the integration and simple German courses. On literacy courses, people who have grown up with other writing systems and people who do not yet read and write can take their first steps in learning written and spoken German.

The aim of occupation-related language teaching is to help you to find a job more easily. To do this, you build on knowledge acquired for example on the integration course (minimum level B1). Here, you can attend a basic module with 300 hours of German lessons as well as special modules which should prepare you for occupational practice and further improve your language skills. The courses can be linked with occupational integration and employment promotion measures.

So-called ESF courses pursue a similar objective. These too are concerned with occupation-related language teaching in accordance with § 45a of the German residence act for people who are new to Germany. The funding for this programme comes from the European Social Fund. As well as German courses, you can also obtain subject-specific tuition here, such as in the commercial area or on the computer.