This glossary explains frequently used terms relating to the language/integration nexus and guides you through the apparent complexities of the relevant concepts and terminology.

Integrationskurs (Integration courses)

Following the entry into force of the Immigration Act on 1 January 2005, German language courses are now mandatory for all new immigrants. The existing German courses for ethnic German resettlers and “foreign workers” were merged. Responsibilities were transferred from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, which commissioned the agency known at that time as the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (BAFL) to undertake the administration of the courses. The BAFL became the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), which acquired extensive tasks in the area of integration and migration.

Since then, the BAMF has been responsible for determining whether an immigrant may attend an integration course or whether s/he can be obliged to attend. It is also responsible for the formal structure and content of the integration courses and for the provision of funding. The integration course is obligatory for new arrivals during the first two years of residence in Germany as well as for unemployed immigrants. EU citizens and immigrants who have lived in Germany for more than two years but who have not yet learned sufficient German may attend the courses on a voluntary basis.

Besides the general integration courses, the following courses for special requirements are also available: The integration courses are delivered by course providers/training providers with funding from the BAMF. The course providers/training providers include adult education centres (Volkshochschulen), private language schools, training initiatives, and voluntary agencies such as Caritas, the National Society for Worker Welfare (AWO) and the Internationaler Bund, a non-profit organisation dedicated to education, vocational training and youth and social work. The providers undergo a formal selection procedure and are accredited by the BAMF.

New immigrants make up 34.9% of the participants in the integration courses (as of: 09 Jan 2016). Immigrants who have been living in Germany for a longer period of time as well as EU citizens may attend courses on a voluntary basis and are the largest group of participants at 46.9%. A further 10.5% is made of up of immigrants who are required by the foreigners authority or local employment office to attend the course due to unemployment. The proportion of ethnic German resettlers has declined and currently amounts to 3.6%.

Related links


Funny stories about horses and soccer-players – read out on Arabic and downloadable as a podcast to be listened to anywhere!


Where to? 21 questions on migration and refuge


Learning German for Refugees

Arriving App

The guide for your first weeks in Germany

My way to Germany

Videos and practises for German learners