INTEGRATION COURSES in GERMANY
Integration courses consist of a language and an orientation component. They cover everyday topics such as the workplace, shopping, television and radio, and childrearing. Participants learn about dealing with administrative offices, writing emails and letters, and interviewing for a job. You will also learn more about Germany as a country, from a number of perspectives: culture and politics, how people live and interact in Germany, and the values on which German society is based. The language course usually consists of 600 hours of instruction, the orientation course takes 60 hours. There are special courses for women, parents, young adults up to the age of 27 and other groups. At the end of each course, all participants take a final examination, free of charge.
Who can participate in an integration course?
Integration courses are intended for anyone who has recently arrived in Germany and whose German language skills are not yet adequate for dealing with the demands of everyday life. Whether you may take an integration course or, in some cases, are required to do so, depends on your country of origin and your level of fluency. The most important guidelines are these:
As a citizen of the EU, you are welcome to participate in an integration course if you want to learn German or improve your German, provided that a place is available. You are not required to do so.
Non-EU citizens are also allowed to take these courses. If your German is not yet particularly good, you may, under some circumstances, be required to take a course. Are you employed and unable to take a full- or part-time course? You may be excused from participating. Upon issuing your residence permit, the foreigners’ registration office will let you know whether you are allowed or required to take an integration course. Special rules apply to ethnic German immigrants and to German citizens.
How to find an integration course
- As a non-EU citizen, go to your local foreigners’ registration office, which will issue you a certificate allowing (Berechtigungsschein) you to participate in an integration course.
- EU citizens should contact the to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to apply for a place in an integration course.
- The next step is to find a course provider (Kurstraeger). The foreigners’ registration office or the migration advisory centre will help you.
- When you have found a provider in your area, make contact either in person or by telephone. The provider will help you to select an appropriate integration course and let you know when it is scheduled to begin.
Benefits for you
Regular instruction from well-trained teachers will help you become fluent in German quickly, and you will soon feel comfortable in your new surroundings. Taking the final examination offers additional advantages: after passing the test, you will be issued an “Integration Course Certificate”. This allows you to claim naturalisation after you have lived in Germany for seven years, rather than the usual eight. Another advantage: If you pass the final examination within two years of being accepted into the course, half of the course fee will be refunded to you.
Where else to learn German
In addition to integration courses, other courses are available as well:
„Deutsch für den Beruf“ (German for the workplace). This course is for people whose German needs improvement and who are either looking for a job or interested in further training in their current jobs. In addition to providing typical language instruction, the course may help you practice your interviewing skills or learn more about a specific subject that is relevant to your job. There is also a practical component that offers insight into working life through internships and visits to businesses. These courses are tailored to your degree of fluency and specialised skills.
Courses for your children are available as well, as German classes are offered for people of every age. Some classes are tailored to the interests and language skills of children and young people. This is important: When young children begin learning German immediately, it is easier for them to adapt to their new environment, make new friends and start to feel at home in Germany.
Content and timing
Each integration course consists of a language course and an orientation course. The general integration course has 660 lessons, and depending on the focus of the course that applies to you, the total length of the course could comprise up to 960 lessons.
The language course
The language course comprises al total of 600 lessons on the general integration course, and up to 900 lessons on special courses.
The language course will cover important aspects of everyday life, e.g.
- health and hygiene/human body
- work and career
- continuing and further education
- educating and raising children
- leisure time and social interaction
- media and media use.
You will also learn to write letters and e-mails in German, to fill out forms, to make telephone calls and to apply for jobs. Topics will vary depending on which type of course you attend. If, for example, you attend a youth integration course, you will deal with topics which are of particular interest to young people such as applying for an apprenticeship.
During the language course you will take an intermediate test. This will help you prepare for the final examination at the end of the integration course.
The orientation course
In conjunction with the language course you will attend the orientation course. It takes 60 hours to complete.
On the orientation course you will discuss the following, for example:
- the German legal system, history and culture
- rights and obligations in Germany
- ways of co-existing in society
- important values in German society, e.g. freedom of worship, tolerance and equal rights.
You will complete the orientation course by taking the final test.
Full time or part time?
There are full-time and part-time courses available. As a general rule, the integration course is attended on a full-time basis.
It is possible in exceptional cases to attend on a part-time basis, if for example you are employed. Afternoon and evening courses are also offered in these cases.
Other things you need to know
Before the integration course begins, the course provider will carry out an assessment test. The result will help determine which course module you should begin with and whether it would be useful to attend a special integration course.
If you have attended lessons according to the rules and have used up your full quota of lessons on the integration course but have not attained language level B1 in the language section of the final test, you can apply to repeat 300 lessons on a one-off basis. You can then also take the language examination one more time without paying a fee.
display as attention:Important information
Please send the application to the regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees responsible for you.
Skipping course modules and changing course providers
You may skip course modules and you can repeat individual course modules if you have already attended 1,200 lessons. You must however pay for the course yourself in this case.
At the end of each course module (after 100 hours), you may also change to another course provider.
display as address:Information available locally
You can find out further information about local services in your area from:
- Youth Migration Services and Migration Advisory Services for Adult Immigrants
- the Office for Integration or the local authority’s intercultural office
- cultural centres
- language schools and universities
- the employment agency and job centres
Integration course including literacy skills
There are people not only in the German population but also in the immigrant community who cannot read and write adequately. Many of them must overcome an additional obstacle. They not only have to learn to speak German but they also have to learn to read and write using the Roman alphabet. Literacy courses help people in this task.
If you know someone who
- would like to learn to read and write for the very first time,
- can read and write but not in the Roman alphabet,
- would like to speak and understand German better, and
- would like to learn how to cope with everyday situations in Germany without feeling anxious
… then a literacy course could be the answer.
On a literacy course…
- attendees learn during the 960 lessons that they too can successfully learn to read and write (if they fulfil certain conditions, a further 300 lessons are also available).
- learning takes place in small groups. This means that the teacher has more time for each attendee.
- the participants learn what helps them to learn, as well as learning how to help themselves and each other to make progress.
- the attendees find out more about themselves and discover that they can also play an active role in society.
- attendees learn how to use a textbook so that they can attend other German courses later or can continue to learn alone.
Integration course for women
Would you like to help your children with their homework? Or deal with German authorities and institutions? And support your family in the process? A women’s integration course could help you to do this.
In up to 960 lessons, the women’s integration course ensures that your language skills are good enough to participate in life in Germany. It also offers you the following benefits:
- You will get to know your children’s kindergarten or schools during the course.
- Your course will be taught by a woman.
- You will meet other women with similar interests to yours.
- On the course you will discuss subjects which particularly interest you, for example bringing up and educating your children and special programmes for women held in your area.
- You will also learn about the differences and similarities between women’s lives in Germany and those in your own country.
Integration course for parents
Would you like to help your children with their homework more effectively? And get to know the German education system and meet other parents? Then an integration course for parents could be the right thing for you.
In up to 960 lessons, the parents’ integration course ensures that your language skills are good enough to participate in life in Germany. It also offers you the following benefits:
- You will get to know your children’s kindergarten or schools during the course.
- Your course leader will introduce you to your children’s nursery teachers and teachers.
- You will learn in classes with other parents who have the same or similar interests to you.
- You will be introduced to kindergarten and school life and included so that you will be fully equipped to make decisions about your children’s futures.
- You will learn all about the structure of the German education system and also about the opportunities available to you and your children in Germany.
Further information about the parents’ course is available from your local immigration authority (Ausländerbehörde), the employment agency, the job centre or the relevant unemployment benefit II agency.
Integration course for young adults
Are you under 27 years old and would you like to learn what you really need for your future in Germany? Would you like to work with computers, go on excursions and meet people locally? Then a youth integration course could be the right thing for you.
Just like on the General Integration Course, you will learn German up language level B1. In addition you will learn important information about
- school and training· working and careers
- family and living together harmoniously
- health and healthcare provision
- culture and leisure· and much more.
In addition, the lessons on the integration course for young people have many other advantages:
- You will be in a class with people of a similar age.
- You will have 960 lessons to take advantage of.
- You will work in small groups of 10 to 15 people.
- You will look at current topics and subjects that interest you.
- You will sometimes even have two teachers.
- You will come into direct contact with education institutions and workplaces during a practical stage.
- You will learn about advisory services which will help you to plan what to do next.
- Travel costs to your course can be refunded.
Further information about the youth integration course is available from your local immigration office, the employment agency, the job centre or the relevant unemployment benefit II agency.
Have you been living in Germany for some years now? Have you not had a chance so far to learn German properly? And are you looking for a way to catch up? Then attending the catch-up course could be the right decision for you.
Over 900 lessons, the catch-up course will prepare you for the linguistic demands of the labour market and life in German society. In a further 60 lessons, you will learn about the most important elements of German politics, history and culture and the country’s legal system. In addition, you will meet many people on the support course who are in a similar position to you.
Do you find learning languages easy? Have you already learned languages other than your mother tongue? Would you like to become involved in social life in Germany as quickly as possible? Then attending the intensive course could be the right decision for you.
On this course, in just 430 lessons, you will learn German to a high enough standard to be able to be completely independent in everyday life in Germany. The intensive course consists of:
- 400 hours of language instruction which takes you to language level B1.
- 30 lessons on the orientation course in which you will learn about the most important aspects of German politics, history and culture and the German legal system.
Further information about the intensive course is available from your local foreign affairs office, the employment agency, the job centre or the relevant unemployment agency.
Integration course certificate
The aim of the integration course is that you pass the final test.
The final test consists of two examinations:
- the German language test for immigrants (DTZ), and
- the standard Federal test for the orientation course.
In the DTZ language examination you can demonstrate an overall result of A2 or B1 based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF). If you pass the language test at level B1 and the orientation course test, then you have passed the final examination and will receive the “Zertifikat Integrationskurs” (integration course certificate).
The DTZ certificate offers many advantages
The “Zertifikat Integrationskurs” offers you many advantages. It certifies an adequate knowledge of German and important basic knowledge of German society.
“Life in Germany” Test
The “Life in Germany” test takes place on a specific date after the orientation course has finished. It includes questions about Germany’s political system, its religious diversity and equal rights for men and women.
The list of questions for the “Life in Germany” test and the orientation course curriculum provide an overview of all the important subjects covered by the test.
What can I expect in the “Life in Germany” test?
Each test candidate receives a test paper with a total of 33 multiple-choice questions. There are four possible answers for each question. The candidates must put a cross beside the correct answer in each case. Candidates have 60 minutes to answer 33 questions. To pass the test, candidates must answer at least 15 of the 33 questions correctly. It is mandatory to answer correctly 17 of the 33 questions in order to prove your knowledge in accordance with § 10 paragraph 1 clause 1 number 7 of the Nationality Act is in accordance with § 1 clause 3 of the Ordinance concerning the Naturalisation Test.
How can I prepare myself for the “Life in Germany” test?
Preparing for the test is part of the orientation course. If you would like to familiarise yourself with the test in advance you can download a sample test paper here. The sample test paper shows what the test paper for used for the “Life in Germany” tests look like. On the day of the examination, each candidate receives his or her own test paper with 33 questions. It goes without saying that all test papers are of the same standard of difficulty.
Practise in the online test centre
You can work interactively with both the sample test paper and the list of questions in the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees’online test centre. This allows you to prepare for the “Life in Germany” test whilst attending the course.