Girl at a Language Course in Germany

Language Course Degrees in Germany

Learning German is an essential step for almost everyone who makes their home in the country, and it can also be one of the most enjoyable experiences of all. While it might seem daunting at first, German is a wonderful language to learn, and Germany offers plenty of ways to do so, with excellent language courses available in every city.

This article looks at how and where to study German, so that visitors can settle into German life as quickly as possible.

German Language Course

No matter where you live in the world, it's essential to have a grasp of the local language

That's even the case if you already speak English fluently. In Germany, this rule certainly applies, and very few people can settle there properly without learning at least intermediate German, even though the level on English in the bigger cities is high.

There are a number of reasons for this. Partly, it's simply because Germans don't automatically learn English, and many everyday activities require the local language. Germans also take pride in their language, and tend to look down on people who arrive and work, but don't take the trouble to learn it.

Then there are technical motivations to learn German. Many jobs and university courses rely on German terms to handle complex tasks or ideas, and sometimes there isn't an easy English equivalent. For instance, doctors and scientific researchers often need to learn both English and German to master their fields.

That's also why many universities make German language skills a condition for admission. So there are plenty of reasons to learn.

It is possible to acquire German language course visa in order to move to Germany for a short while for the sole purpose of learning German. Read more on our Visa page.

The level of an individual’s language skills in a foreign language is determined according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR levels). This framework, which is well-recognized in Germany, provides a standardized way of grading German proficiency, starting at A1 up to C2. Courses will start at one of these levels, depending on the learner’s previous experience which will often be judged by an onboarding or enrollment test.

How long does it take to speak fluent German?

How quickly you learn German depends on many factors. Some people simply pick up languages naturally, while others struggle. Some have more time outside of work to memorize words or practice conversations. And some can afford private tutors alongside language college courses.

In terms of reaching basic German standards, the process can be quite fast. For example, reaching B1 (intermediate) level is reckoned to take 8 weeks. But fluent German will take many months, or even years.

How much does it cost to learn German in Germany?

An average group class for learning German in Germany (at a private school) costs around €10 per hour. Fees for paid courses range from €790 per CEFR level.

How can I learn German in Germany for free?

Finding a language tandem/exchange partner can mean learning the language from a native speaker is free, and enrolling for a class at a nearby Volkshochschule (community college) can give learners access to very low-cost classes (but often in big groups!). A few of the best free apps for learning German can be found below.

Is the German language required to study in Germany?

Yes - for courses in Germany, definitely. Being accepted for a university course in Germany will often require students to prove their level of German as a prerequisite, and student visa applications can also depend on this.

The best-recognized certificate to prove that you have good enough language skills to study in German is the Test of German as a Foreign Language (TestDaF). Institutions such as the Goethe Institut offer preparatory courses for this exam, although exam guidelines and example papers can also be found online.

Can you move to Germany without knowing German?

Yes, however, our Learn German page provides some good reasons why learning German is highly beneficial. In short, although many German natives in the main cities will likely have a good level of English, many people in the smaller towns and those of the older generation will not. Navigating the German paperwork and setting yourself up in the country will be made much easier if you have a good grasp of the language – as will making friends and integrating.

What are the levels of German language?

When you come to choose a German language course, you'll find that the options are divided into different levels. Here are the main levels that you'll probably want to attain:

  • A1: What is taught in German A1 level? The lowest of the 6 levels, A1 provides a basic grounding in grammar and vocabulary, and is a prerequisite to work in occupations like childcare. Courses generally take 4-6 weeks.
  • A2: Moving up the scale, A2 enables students to begin to express themselves with more complex sentences and vocabulary. Again, it's usually obtained over 4-6 week courses.
  • B1: Much more grammar is included here, as well as extended discussions, often about current events. Generally divided into B1.1 and B1.2, which add up to 8 weeks of tuition.
  • B2: How long does it take to learn German B2? At B2, students take 8 further weeks to learn the fundamentals of good written and spoken German. Concepts relating to politics, education, and work are introduced, and sentence structure becomes much more important. So in total, most students reach B2 within 14-16 weeks of starting a 1 year course.
  • C1: Students study C1 over 8 more weeks, and receive a deeper understanding of how to read complex German sentences. With this certificate, reading Goethe should be within your grasp, so why not start to explore the wonders of German literature?
  • C2: The highest certificate, C2 take longer to achieve, and is usually taught via one-on-one classes. It provides almost flawless German skills, and is the course of choice for professionals.

Learn German with YouTube

Before you arrive in Germany, start watching German YouTube videos and reading sites like "Der Spiegel" or "Die Welt". It will be a great introduction to course materials when you start learning for real.

Exams

Whatever level of German you choose to study, examinations will be part of the package

In all cases, there will be a combination of listening, speaking, and written components. At A1 and A2 levels, the examinations won't be particularly difficult, and the questions should be extremely simple. A2 differs from A1 by having slightly more in-depth questions, and the need to use or comprehend longer words in more complex sentences.

At B1 level, students will need a vocabulary of over 2,000 words, knowledge of clauses, a strong grasp of sentence structure, and the ability to understand spoken German at TV or movie speeds.

B2 is similar to B1, but with a much tighter emphasis on speaking about German life. Knowledge of German culture, politics, and economics may help here. And the level of accuracy required is taken up a notch, as well.

C1 requires almost fluency in speaking and writing German, so at this stage it's advisable to immerse yourself in German language. Practice makes perfect here, both for tightening up sentences, and mastering complex listening tasks.

Finally, C2 takes C1 to another level, with extended essays and a need to come across like a native German. At that stage, students should be virtually fluent.

Preparation is everything when taking language exams. To get a feel for what is required, head to the Goethe Institut, and use their specimen papers.

Application and Costs

Most of the time, students will apply for a 1 year German language course either before they arrive in the country, or soon after arrival

If you are applying for university, you will probably be asked to find a language college to ensure that your language skills reach the required level.

The first step is finding a college. To do so, it probably helps to visit the websites of providers like the Goethe Institut, or general course directories.

If you are working towards fluency, choose a course which reaches at least B2, and preferably C1 or C2. You should easily be able to reach that level on a 1 year course. Next, fill out an application form at the college of your choice. You will need to have a valid student visa, as well as a residency permit and health insurance. Students arriving in Germany are also required to set aside a year's worth of living costs in what's called a Sperrkonto (blocked account).

Language courses aren't usually free. However, it is possible to learn German in Germany with a scholarship. And some universities will run "language centers", which provide subsidized or free courses.

Most grants are provided by the DAAD, and if money is tight, it's well worth checking their services out.

Otherwise, fees vary widely. Some courses charge as little as €200 per level, while elite colleges can charge €1,000-€1,500. It's best to inquire with your university or employer to find a good place to learn German in Germany cheaply.

The Best Language Schools in Germany

Check out some options

National Language Schools

Berlitz Sprachschule

Berlitz Sprachschule is an international language school located in Germany and in many places worldwide. The school has more than 470 centers in 70 countries. You will find a Berlitz Sprachschule in most major German cities. The school offers individual and group lessons for adults and children and provides integration courses and preparation courses for internationally recognized German language qualifications.

Deutsche Akademie

The Deutsche Akademie offers the largest online German grammar training tool in the world, for non-native speakers or those who wish to improve their grammar.

The online course from this institution is free for anybody to use. The website offers more than 20,000 German grammar and vocabulary exercises and 800 hours of interactive learning. The course was designed by teachers and fulfills the standard of the European Framework of Reference for Language. This means it fulfills the standards for language training in Germany.

BWS Germanlingua

The BWS Germanlingua language school offers courses in general German, business German, English courses and German exam preparation. The school is affiliated to the International Association of Language Centers and offers German language training at six different levels. Each level fulfills the standards set by the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. Standard German courses require attendance of 20 hours a week. Reading, writing, listening and speaking German in small groups form part of the curriculum.

Language Schools in Berlin

German Language School (GLS)

Address: Kastanienallee 82, 10435 Berlin

Hartnackschule Berlin

Address: Motzstraße 5, 10777 Berlin (Schöneberg)

Sprachenatelier Berlin

Address: Frankfurter Allee 40, 10247 Berlin

Language Schools in Munich

ASL International Language School

Address: Leopoldstraße 62, 80802 Munich

Wortland

Address: Pettenkoferstr 44, 80336 Munich

Language Schools in Hamburg

Colón Language Center

Address: Colonnaden 96, 20354 Hamburg

SprachKontakte

Address: Schanzenstr. 75, 20357 Hamburg

Language schools in Cologne

Active lernen

Address: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring 24, 50672 Cologne

Insula Köln

Address: Vogelsangerstrasse 61, 50823 Cologne

Language Schools in Frankfurt

Eloquia

Address: Kaiserstr. 10, D-60311 Frankfurt

Sprachcaffee Frankfurt

Address: Gartenstraße 6, 60594 Frankfurt

Learn German Online

Check out our tips for free apps and websites

Using a free app to learn German can be a cost-effective and convenient way to do so, especially if you are not yet in Germany. Learners can try:

Duolingo is a website and app-based language learning program. The language proficiency assessment exam is done digitally. The Duolingo website and app is free to use and download.

This internationally recognized language learning program can be accessed from any device. Users can start off with a free trial of learning foundational concepts and undertaking practical tasks.

A platform for learning German from beginner to advanced levels, Wie Geht's is a user-friendly website that starts by teaching basic vocabulary for common words.

Slow German is hosted by a native German speaker, Annik Rubens, and there is a choice of free podcasts or paid for services. The site teaches basic German grammar and vocabulary through current events and dialogue.

Speakers can learn using flashcards online and using mobile apps. The site is great for learning German verb conjugations and verb recognition exercises.