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Do I need to know German?

Learning the German language is one of the most important steps you can take to prepare for your life in Germany. After all, German is spoken in most companies. Even if you don't need to prove your knowledge of German for your job, it will look good on your CV and improves your chances as you apply. Prospective employers will know that you are committed and have made an effort to learn German. Depending on your future plans, you can partake in specialised language courses in your home country or in Germany – it might even be mandatory.

  • Work in the nursing and healthcare sector: If you intend to work as a nursing professional or a doctor in Germany, you will need to have your foreign professional qualifications recognised. In addition, you will need to prove your knowledge of German with a certificate from a recognised language centre, such as the Goethe-Institut or a telc-certified institute. The required level of proficiency may vary between B1 or B2 of the European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) depending on the different German states. Further information on having your qualifications recognised, are avaiable on this portal.
  • German for your spouse: If your spouse wants to move to Germany with you, and if they are not from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, or Iceland, it is important that they learn the German language, too. At the time of applying for a visa, your spouse will usually need to provide evidence of basic knowledge of German. In this case, your spouse should participate in a German language course in your home country. You will usually need to provide evidence that your German skills correspond to level A1 of the European Framework of Reference for Languages. At the Goethe-Institut, this would correspond to the Start 1 course. You may of course choose to learn German by yourself and sit an exam with a certified language centre. The Goethe-Institut provides an overview of its own learning centres and schedules. A list of other language centres can be found on the telc website. Additional information on having your spouse move to Germany with you is available at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. If your spouse is in possession of an EU Blue Card, they will not need to prove their ability to speak German when they apply for a visa.
  • German for students: In order to study at a German university, you need to prove your knowledge of German. To do that, you can sit the "Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber“ (DSH) or the "Test für Deutsch als Fremdsprache" (TestDaf). Since February 12, 2016, the certificate of the exam „telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule” is accepted for admission to a German-language study course. For further information, please refer to the "Study" section. Please note that knowledge of English and different admission criteria may be required for many international courses of study. To find out more, please contact your university.
  • German for the workplace: The language used at work is often different from the language used in everyday situations. When you're dealing with clients, for example, you'll use different language than when you're talking to your colleagues or manager.  Also, for each profession, there is specialized terminology you'll need to familiarize yourself with. These types of language are taught in German language courses for professionals.
  • German for children and adolescents: Your children can participate in special language courses which will let them make new friends, too. In addition to learning the language, the participants can spend additional time together, in sports or cultural events, which will make it easier for your children to settle in. German schools will also support your children in learning German. Please contact your local school to find out about the options available. Additional information about finding a school or preschool for your children is available in the sections about Child care and Germany’s school system.

Information on the internet

Volkshochschulen

Language courses in many German towns and cities (German)
 

Goethe-Institut

German language courses in 92 countries and in Germany; online courses; free exercises (German, English)

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German Academic Exchange Service

Information about language courses, exams and placement tests (German)
 

Carl Duisberg Centres

German language courses for adults and youths in Germany (i. a. German, English, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, Turkish)
 

Deutsche Welle

Free German language courses by the German international broadcaster (German, English, French, Spanish, etc.)
 

Deutscher Bildungsserver

Here, you'll find an overview of public and private offers for learning German (German)


Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Information on learning German for the workplace (German, English)

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