Type of practice:
Starting point and legal mandate by the German Residence Act from 2005 aim: a uniform nationwide standard of a basic offer to learn the German language and gain information about life in Germany. The objective is level B1 according to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) in the German language and basic knowledge about history, culture, values, legal system etc. in Germany. New immigrants with a permanent residence perspective as well as immigrants who have lived in Germany for a while but do not know enough German may attend an integration course. For some immigrants participation may be mandatory, e.g. for recipients of unemployment benefits. The general integration course consists of 600 lesson units of learning the German language and 100 lesson units of “orientation course” (German history, culture, values etc.). Special integration courses comprising 900 lesson units of German are offered for particular target groups (e.g. illiterates, parents/women, young adults). For very fast learners (esp. highly educated immigrants) there is also an intensive course (400 language lesson units and 30 orientation course units). Participants missing level B1 in the “German language test for immigrants” (“Deutschtest für Zuwanderer”- DTZ) after the language course may attend another 300 lesson units and take a second DTZ. Key resource is the federal budget.
Benefit and Impact
- Besides learning German the integration course provides an excellent opportunity to meet other immigrants.
- At the end of the language course participants take the “German language test for immigrants” (DTZ) and at the end of the orientation course they take the "Life in Germany" test (“Leben in Deutschland” - LiD), including questions about Germany’s political system, its religious diversity and equal rights for men and women. People who succeed in both tests, receive a certificate (“Zertifikat Integrationskurs”).
- There are permanent statistical evaluations about participation and results: https://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2019/20190430-bamf-integrationskursstatistik-2018.html
- The DTZ is scalable. Participants can either prove level A2 or B1.
- During the Covid-19 pandemic, many course providers have been able to switch over to digital formats quickly in response to lockdowns or legal requirements (limitation of persons in a classroom, exclusion of participants who are not vaccinated etc.). In cases where neither classroom-based nor online classes are possible, course providers can apply for grants to protect them from bankruptcy and to ensure the ongoing viability of the course system as a whole.