Pre-integrative language training – the Goethe-Institut's focus

Preparing for Germany – Language courses for spouses

© Goethe-Institut Bangkok

Since August 2007, spouses have only been allowed to move to Germany if they can demonstrate basic knowledge of the German language. The Goethe-Institut is creating internationally equal, fair and acceptable conditions for the language certificate.

Basic knowledge of the German language can be confirmed with successful completion of the test for Goethe-Zertifikat A1: Start Deutsch 1, which the Goethe-Institut has developed. To pass the test, the participants must be able to understand around 650 German words and actively use 300. They must be able to use simple grammatical structures and have basic cultural knowledge. The German courses that provide this knowledge, in Turkey for example, comprise approx. 160 teaching hours. Their objective is to prepare the spouses aiming to emigrate for everyday communication. Because the Start Deutsch 1 test is used around the world, it vouches for a procedure that has been completed all over the world according to the same quality standards as well as comparable and fair conditions.

Increase in demand

As a result of the new integration law, the Goethe-Institut has seen an enormous increase in the demand for language courses and examinations. Demand has increased most significantly in Turkey, Russia, Kosovo, Thailand, Morocco, India and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Numerous Goethe-Instituts around the world were faced with the task of expanding their range of language courses and examinations as quickly as possible: they increased the number of staff and qualified teachers for the new tasks, improved their range of information and advice and expanded their room capacity. In many countries, such as Macedonia and Kosovo, partner structures had to be established in order to be able to meet the demand for German courses and examinations.

In Bosnia, where most of the people affected live in small towns or in the province of neighbouring countries like Montenegro, the Goethe-Institut is trying to identify alternative ways of learning German and placing very successful German teachers in public schools that give private lessons.

New target groups

Not only is the number of course participants increasing, but also the profile of the clientele. The Goethe-Institut language courses were previously aimed at university students and future managers. Now, many people from a wide variety of educational backgrounds are attending the classes, including those which do not have a Latin alphabet. Therefore, courses for so-called secondary illiterates, i.e. learners who do not know the Latin alphabet, are being arranged at some institutes.

To cope with these new target groups, the Goethe-Institut has developed new teaching methods, published recommendations for the curriculum and organised extensive training for German teachers. Many institutes offer additional training for slow leaners and targeted revision.

Difficulties as well as opportunities

The requirement of having passed a German examination before their departure sometimes presents the following partner with great personal difficulties: some, who have been preparing to move to Germany for a long time, must postpone their plans. Many of them must travel a long way to the nearest Goethe-Institut or language learning centre. Others have difficulties finding the money for the course fees.

However, initial surveys of immigration course participants show that acceptance of the new legislation has increased greatly due to the commitment of the Goethe-Institut. The vast majority of participants consider the courses to be valuable preparation for life in Germany, which make it much easier to get used to everyday life and work. Many migrants, especially women, report that the courses not only offer them completely new opportunities for education, but that the new language also gives them a new world view.
Goethe-Institut, language courses and examinations department

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