Internationale Freundesgruppe in Berlin

Do I need to know German?

Your everday life in Germany will be easier once you learn German. Find out here why German language skills are important.

Learning German is one of the most important steps you can take to prepare yourself for your life in Germany. This will help you settle in more quickly and facilitate making new friends. For certain purposes, such as work or studying, it may even be necessary for you to provide evidence of certain German skills. Proof of a certain level of German is also necessary for applying for a visa in many cases:  

  • German for work: Even if you do not have to prove your German language skills for your job, passing exams and certificates will look good on your CV and improve your chances when applying for a job: this way, companies immediately see that you are committed and have language skills. Since you adjust your speech to your work setting or your everyday life and also need to know specific technical terms, you have the opportunity to attend a professional language course.
     
  • Professions in healthcare: If you plan on working in healthcare in Germany, e.g. as a nurse or as a doctor, knowledge of the German language is mandatory. You will need an official language certificate from a recognised language centre, such as the Goethe-Institut or a telc-certified institute. Depending on the German federal state, level B1 or B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is required.
     
  • German for your spouse: Are you entering Germany with your spouse, who will work in Germany? As a rule, joining spouses from third countries must provide evidence of basic knowledge of the German language when applying for a visa (cf. Section 30 (1) of the German Residence Act). Generally, German language skills at level A1 of the CEFR are required here. However, there are numerous exceptions, which you can read up on in this section.
     
  • German for students and trainees: If you are applying for a German-language degree programme in Germany, you must prove that you have the language skills required by the higher education institution in the form of an official certificate. As a rule, prospective trainees must also be able to speak the required level of German to start their training in Germany. You can find more information on this in the Study section or in the Training section.
     
  • German language skills as a prerequisite for obtaining a visa: A certain level of German language skills may be required in order to apply for a visa. For example, if you want to apply for a visa to look for a job, proof of German language skills might be necessary. For a visa for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications, at least an A2 level is usually required. Read more about the requirements for the respective visa types in the Visa section.
     

How is German language proficiency measured? 

The assessment of your German language skills is usually based on the so-called Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It defines the following levels of language competence: 

  • Levels A1 and A2: These levels provide you with basic knowledge of the German language. If you have no previous knowledge, attending an A1 course is highly recommended. 
  • Levels B1 and B2: Here is where you will learn German at an advanced level. You will expand your language skills and after completing level B2 you will be able to communicate independently and in a differentiated way in everyday life and at work. 
  • Levels C1 and C2: These levels are German at the highest standard. At the end of these courses, you will have mastered German almost as well as people who have grown up speaking the language, i. e. near-native competence. 

Required German language skills depending on the type of visa

You can use this chart to check whether and which German language skills you need to have to obtain a certain residence title.

Information on the web

  1. Goethe-Institut Why learn German?
  2. German Academic Exchange Service Information about language courses, exams and placement tests
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