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Projects with refugees
The refugee crisis is one of the chief challenges of our times. The Goethe-Institut plays a part in the integration of refugees in Germany and, in cooperation with partners, has also been organizing various cultural and educational programmes in the regions of origin, for example in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon and in a number of cities in Turkey, since 2013. The different projects are presented in reports and interviews here.

New App: Arriving In Germany

“Ankommen” is an app made to help refugees starting out in Germany. | Photo: Kay Nietfeld © picture alliance / dpa
“Ankommen” is an app made to help refugees starting out in Germany. | Photo: Kay Nietfeld © picture alliance / dpa


Newly arrived refugees in Germany are faced by many challenges including cultural and linguistic hurdles. A new app called “Ankommen” (Arrival) was created to help them successfully navigate their first weeks in Germany.

In cooperation with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the Federal Employment Agency (BA) and Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), the Goethe-Institut has developed an offering unique in Germany that can help newcomers take those difficult first steps.

The app has three menus. There is a module for learning the German language developed primarily by the Goethe-Institut to help with everyday communicating. “Asylum, Apprenticeship, Job” describes the asylum procedure and also offers information about kindergarten, school and studies. “Living in Germany” familiarizes new arrivals with practical and value-oriented aspects of life in the new country.

After a single, free download, the app can also be used offline and on older smartphones. It is currently available for the Android operating system, but from late January it will also be available for iOS in Arabic, English, Farsi, French and German.

The language-learning module is for absolute beginners, giving them the ability to systematically build a basic vocabulary about topics such as food, shopping, living, working, as well as health and medical care. The app offers users the possibility to interactively train their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

Johannes Ebert, secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut, said of “Ankommen”, “Language is the key to participation in society. With this app and the Goethe-Institut language courses we make a significant contribution towards easing those critical first few weeks after arriving in Germany.” Ebert stressed that in the first weeks “a course is set that lastingly determines the lives of refugees.”

“The special thing about this app is that the knowledge and information it provides is closely linked to typical, everyday situations. The app, however, cannot take the place of an integration course,” said Klaus Krischok, head of information at the Goethe-Institut, although it can help to overcome the initial period of “speechlessness” in Germany.

Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of the BAMF and the BA stressed that time is an “important factor in vocational and in social integration. There are still waiting periods, but they can be used and minimized. Our deliberately low-threshold offer makes an important contribution to quickly becoming familiar with all the necessary information for a new start in Germany.”

The Goethe-Institut reinforces its solid commitment to refugees in Germany with the “Ankommen” app. Since 2015, the Goethe-Institut has been training volunteer language coaches in Germany and offering classroom-based German courses for refugees. More free language learning opportunities are available at goethe.de/willkommen. In December 2015, the Goethe-Institut presented “Cinemanya”, a suitcase of films for children and teens with Arabic subtitles.

Version 1.0 of the “Ankommen” app was designed between November and December 2015 and its functions and content will be further expanded in 2016. Updates can simply be downloaded.
January 2015

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