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.

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.

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 (around €8,400) 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 enquire with your university or employer to find a good place to learn German in Germany cheaply.