Goethe-Institut Study on Pre-integration
Arriving Better

Cover image of the study “Annäherung, die im Heimatland beginnt”.
Cover image of the study “Annäherung, die im Heimatland beginnt”. | Photo (detail): Paul Bradbury / Caiaimage via Getty Images

Programmes for linguistic, regional and intercultural preparation for people who want to come to Germany will be further expanded abroad. This is one of the key demands of the National Integration Action Plan, which was presented at the Integration Summit on 2 March. This demand is also supported by a study by the Goethe-Institut, which for the first time examined the needs of migrant workers in the pre-integration phase.

At the Integration Summit, the President of the Goethe-Institut Klaus-Dieter Lehmann presented the study to the Federal Chancellor. At the Integration Summit, Lehmann said, “The results of our study confirm the great importance of qualified linguistic, regional and intercultural preparation for foreign skilled workers. This determines their success on the German job market and their arrival in society. As the language and cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goethe-Institut has been the only provider to offer a training and qualification programme for skilled professionals in the respective countries of origin for over ten years. This includes, for example, the website “Mein Weg nach Deutschland”, which now counts 800,000 hits annually. However, in view of expected growing demand, this commitment must be expanded for the long term. We not only have to expand the programmes for orientation in Germany, but also ensure high quality standards. Training teachers to work abroad remains a major task. We are pleased that with our many years of expertise we were able to contribute to the creation of the Federal Government’s National Action Plan, which now also sets the political course for expanding pre-integrative programmes and adapting them even more to the users’ needs.”

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann at the Integration Summit. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann at the Integration Summit. | Photo (detail): IntB/Reinaldo Coddou H. 2020

Key results of the Goethe-Institut study

The study on the pre-integration of migrant workers was carried out as part of the Goethe-Institut’s project Pre-integration in the Regions of Southeast Asia and Southeast Europe – a programme aimed specifically at immigrants who want to migrate to Germany for professional reasons or to join their spouses. The target groups come from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Indonesia, Cambodia, Kosovo, Myanmar, North Macedonia, the Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. The study included an online survey of almost 1,000 participants who migrated to Germany for professional reasons. The entire survey process was supplemented by interviews with eleven experts from academia and practice and several focus groups with the target group itself and with practitioners who work directly with the target group abroad.

Making arrival in Germany easier

All respondents agreed that pre-integrative programmes make arrival in Germany considerably easier. In addition to intercultural and regional studies, language courses in particular continue to play a central role in reaching migrant workers abroad. Experience has shown that it is language skills that ultimately determine the success of social integration in Germany. The survey also shows that before immigration many migrants have little awareness of the importance of preparation. Only in retrospect do they recognise the great benefit of programmes to prepare for everyday and working life in Germany. The analysis also shows that the greater the cultural differences between the country of origin and Germany, the greater the need for and benefit of pre-integrative programmes. The urban or rural origins of participants should therefore be taken into account in the programmes. It is also integral to providing the participants with a realistic idea of the situation they can expect before they arrive in Germany. The analysis further clarifies that closer cooperation between all German actors is necessary as well as the close involvement of the partners in the countries of origin.