The key to a life in Germany: learning German | Learn German - first steps | DW | 22.09.2015

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Learn German - first steps

The key to a life in Germany: learning German

If you really want to make a life in Germany, one thing is paramount: you have to speak German. That's the only way to tackle everyday tasks and get to know your neighbors. Here are some tips on how to go about that.

Do I have the right to attend a German language class?

Not as long as you are an asylum applicant. But it changes once you're a recognized refugee, have been granted asylum and are allowed to stay in Germany long-term.

Then you actually have to participate in a so-called integration course.

There you mainly learn German, but you'll also learn about your rights and obligations and the basics of German politics and society.

Information how to get into one of those integration classes are provided by the local immigration office.

There are special regulations for young refugees: Asylum applicants who have been to school for less than years or more fall under Germany's compulsory education law in almost all federal states. They usually have to start school six months after their arrival. Most German schools have so-called welcome- or integration classrooms. Here, children also learn German and teachers tell them about German way of living and culture.

Who helps me learn German?

If you want to learn German while your asylum application is being processed, the best thing to do is look around for local opportunities. There are often volunteers like teachers, who offter German classes in refugee homes. These courses are free.

If you want to learn German like that, you can also turn to the local refugee aid centers or representatives of the state refugee councils.

If you have the money, you can of course also take conventional German classes. One of the most well-known providers is the Goethe-Institute. But their classes, which last between two and eight weeks, cost between 610 and 2,140 Euro.

More affordable classes are offered by the so-called adult education centers ("Volkshochschule" or VHS). Classes, however, only start twice a year, usually in March and September. On the VHS website, you can look for classes all over Germany:

// (information in German)

Many universities now also offer special German classes for refugees. Check whether the university closes to you has any such German courses available. Offers vary from city to city.

What kind of material can I use? What does DW offer?

If you have access to a computer, you can start studying by yourself with Deutsche Welle teaching materials. You can find various classes for different entry levels here:

DW's German language courses.

Beginners start with the A1 level. If you know a little bit of German, you can take the placement test here. The results will tell you at which level you should start. Deutsche Welle German classes are free.

Volunteers who teach refugees German often use a workbook developed by two retired teachers, who developed it specifically for this purpose. It teaches the most important words that asylum applicants need to know when they first come to Germany.

You can purchase the book at the teachers' website.

WWW links