Where to learn German
German is the third most popular foreign language among English speakers. Thanks to this, there are many high-quality manuals, Internet resources and German conversation clubs. Therefore, you can find training opportunities in any city and for any budget.
Resources for self-study of the German language
|Memrise||Website for language learning with exercises.||A1-B2|
|German for beginner||A half-hour story-driven video with the simplest possible vocabulary and subtitles.||A1|
|EdX Courses||Online courses of German universities in English.||A1-C1|
|Wikibooks German||A comprehensive self-tutoring guide — from the very beginning up to level B1.||A1-B1|
|Beelinguapp Language learning||An app with audiobooks in German and English.||A1-B2|
|Duolingo||German lessons for beginners.||A1-B1|
|LingQ||Lessons with exercises, it is possible to create your own ones.||A1-B2|
German with a tutor
The strength of a tutor lies in the individual approach. A personal teacher will make a curriculum for your unique tasks and characteristics, together you will draw up the most convenient lesson plan. However, you will only be able to practice spoken language with one person, rather than with the whole group.
Websites for finding German tutors
German courses in Germany
This option is not suitable for learning the basics, but once you have them covered, it is a great way to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the language, practice speaking and learn the nuances that no textbook can explain. What's especially nice is that courses aren't just found in big cities — if you prefer a quieter Europe, you can go to cities like Heidelberg, surrounded by forests and with a population of about 160,000. But remember two things: first, this is not a cheap option. In addition to the courses themselves, you will have to spend money on flights, accommodation, and more. A month of life in Germany will cost about 1,000 USD, and roughly the same amount will be the costs for the courses and transit. Secondly, carefully study what dialect is spoken in the part of the country where you are going. There is a risk of forming some kind of local pronunciation, completely different from the nation-standard Hochdeutsch.
Language courses in Germany
Why learn German
German is far from being the most spoken in the world, but in Europe, it is the language with the largest number of native speakers — 83 million. More importantly, these people are mostly Germans. Germany is the largest economy in Europe. It consistently holds third place in the world in terms of total exports, second to only the United States and China. At the same time, the population of Germany is 4.5 times less than in the States, and almost 17 times less than in China. Also, every tenth book in the world is published in German.
German for studying
Higher education in public universities in Germany is free for everybody. The student only has to pay an administrative fee of around 157-734 USD/year, but in return they receive a travel pass and other benefits. At the same time, German education is recognized throughout the world. You absolutely can get a diploma in Berlin, and then move to work, for example, in the USA — where the same education would cost 30,000-60,000 USD per year. Therefore, education in Germany is one of the most popular reasons to learn German.
To enter a German university, you need to know the language at least at the B1 level, but in most universities the real lower bar is at the B2 level. Language proficiency must be confirmed by passing one of the international exams in German: TestDaF, DSH or Goethe. At the end of the article, we talk about them in detail.
|Country||Minimum level for admission||Admission exam|
|Germany||B2||DSH, TestDaF, Goethe-Zertifikat|
|Austria||C1||ÖSD Zertifikat, Goethe-Zertifikat, TestDaF|
German for work
The language will be helpful not only in the countries where it is spoken. Competition among translators is quite high — the average salary of a German-English translator in the USA amounts to 50,000 USD annually. But German will be very useful for people from other industries — logistics bureaus, export-oriented and pharmaceutical companies actively cooperate with Central Europe and are always looking for specialists who, in addition to their basic skills, speak German well. Business in Germany is developing rapidly, therefore, new opportunities for international cooperation are constantly emerging.
As for working directly in Germany, unemployment there is only 4.2% — one of the lowest rates in the world. The only caveat is that for this you also need to speak German at a level not lower than C1 or even C2. But knowledge of this language will provide many career opportunities — even if you are not considering labor migration, international companies are always looking for specialists who know German.
In 2020, the Skilled Immigration Act — Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz — was passed. It is intended to attract specialists from countries outside the Eurozone to Germany. The law gave new opportunities to those wishing to find work in Germany:
- Abolished the priority check. The Federal Employment Agency has stopped checking whether there is an applicant for a position among the local population before approving a foreigner.
- Removed the restrictions on the choice of profession. Previously, it was possible to get a job only in one’s specialty.
- Allowed to change migration status. Now you can find a job even before receiving a diploma and apply for the Temporary Residence Permit.
It is convenient to look for a job in Germany on these services:
- Make it in Germany — a portal about job search, professions, relocation;
- Monster.de — German portal for job search;
- LinkedIn, Xing — international social networks for job search;
- EURES is a section of the European Commission's portal for job search.
|Specialties in demand||Annual income|
|IT specialist||53,446 USD|
|Sales specialist||53,446 USD|
German for immigration
Immigration to Germany is possible in several ways: student, professional, marriage, humanitarian and ethnic (for Jews and Germans). German is important for all of these methods, but especially for the first two. Depending on which path you have decided to choose for immigration, in order to obtain German citizenship, you need to live in the country for from 3 up to 8 years. You will also need to prove your knowledge of German is at least at the B1 level, confirm the ability to support yourself and have no criminal record. To obtain a German passport, you will have to renounce your current citizenship.
Professional immigration to Germany
To move to Germany for work, you must prove your education and knowledge of German (usually C1+), as well as receive an invitation from the employer in advance. After that, you can apply for a work visa. To confirm your education, you need to find your university on the anabin website. If it is not on the list, it means that the university diplomas are not automatically recognized by Germany. This is not a problem, but in that case you will need to contact the Central Office for Foreign Education (Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen, ZAB). The evaluation of the diploma costs about 237 USD.
Student immigration to Germany
Student immigration is generally similar to labor immigration. You will also need to obtain an invitation from the employer and a work visa. The main differences are that it is easier to get a job in Germany after receiving a German education, and a student has 1.5 years to find a job after graduation. In addition, years of study at a university will shorten the required time to live in the country to obtain citizenship.
|Country||Expenses per month||Salary per month|
|Germany||990 USD||3,754 USD|
|Austria||1,120 USD||4,174 USD|
|Switzerland||2,484 USD||10,120 USD|
German for travel
German is useful for traveling both in Germany itself and in Austria, Switzerland and some regions of other Central European countries: Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg. However, unlike Spanish or Chinese, it doesn’t "open the gates" for the traveler per se. All German-speaking countries are characterized by a high level of education of the population. Therefore, English is more than enough to walk every road in this part of the world.
And yet, learn the basic phrases — "tourist's essentials." Not only will it be easier for you to navigate the city by the signs and maps, but the locals will also treat you very kindly. Germans always support foreigners who are trying to learn their difficult language.
German for yourself
In addition to all of the above, German can be learned for other reasons. First, learning any foreign language has a positive effect on the brain — it reduces the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and improves math skills. Secondly, knowing a foreign language immerses you in a foreign culture. You understand the mindset of another nation and make your own perception of the world more flexible. Finally, Germany is the cradle of modern European philosophy. Knowledge of the language will allow you to better understand the works of Hegel, Marx, Leibniz and dozens of other thinkers. Not to mention the rich popular culture — many people love the German language because of the Rammstein songs alone.
German language exams
There are many international German exams, including its own version in Austria. There are three most common ones: TestDaF, DSH, and Goethe-Zertifikat. All three exams are comparable to the standard European CERF scale and are suitable for admission to a German university.
- TestDaF. Specially designed for foreigners who want to enter German universities. Consists of four parts: reading, listening, writing and speaking. There is no grammar section. A separate grade is given for each part. To enter a German university, you need to pass it on the “four” (TDN-4). The exam is held six times a year in special language centers and costs 171 USD. The certificate is non-expiring.
- DSH. This exam is administered by the universities themselves, so it is less standardized. To pass the exam, you need to pay from 0 to 157 USD. At the same time, it is not required to pre-study at the preparatory courses at the university — anyone who has the right to receive higher education can apply and pass DSH.
- Goethe-Zertifikat. The Goethe Institute is a non-governmental organization whose goal is to popularize German culture and language. Exams can be taken at any level of CERF, when passing at level B2 and above, you can apply for admission to a German university. Employers in Germany also recognize the Goethe Institute certificate.
You can prepare for exams on your own if the level of the language as a whole already corresponds to what is required for successful completion. In this case, it is enough to solve the trial exam tasks. It is also a good idea to talk to someone who has already successfully passed the exam in the recent past. If your level is still insufficient, we advise you to find a tutor or a language school that will prepare you specifically for passing the target exam.
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