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How and where to get free German language courses in Germany, what courses exist

On this page you will learn about what free-of-charge German language instruction courses exist in Germany for migrants, ethnic German resettlers, refugees, both children and adults. How you can apply for these courses, how long they last, and other details. Read about free online German language courses on a dedicated page of our website.

§ Free German language courses in Germany: general information

Various free-of-charge language courses are offered for migrants and refugees in Germany. These German language courses, where a teacher works with a small group of students, are being financed by the state under the program of support for migrants and refugees. Apart from the state-funded courses, the free courses are also offered by all sorts of private initiative groups, as well as by charity organizations and commercial institutions. Besides, the free German language courses for people of different professions are also offered in Germany for the purpose of their better integration in the labour market. Further on, this page will highlight the following options:

§ Integration courses of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

For successful integration of foreigners in Germany, the Federal Office organizes and funds the German language courses and orientation courses for the introduction to the legal system, culture, history as well as other values of Germany. As of 2018, such courses lasted from 600 through to 1200 hours and could operate both in the full-time mode (8 hours per day), and, for working people, in the part-time mode. If a person already has the knowledge of the German language, s/he may join this course later than at its start. The courses are delivered by highly competent teachers in well-equipped classrooms with the use of most effective textbooks and dictionaries of the German language in Germany.

Apart from the general integration course, the Federal Office for Migration offers the following specialized courses:

The BAMF integration courses are meant for foreigners, who have a permit to stay in Germany for the purpose of work, or for family reunion, as well for some other cases; however, under certain conditions, refugees, ethnic German late resettlers, and citizens of Germany may as well attend the given courses.

To take an integration course, it is necessary to address the Foreigners Registration Office and obtain a permit (in German: Berechtigungsschein) to attend such a course. To this end, it is required to fill out a respective application (for the application forms, click here). Then you should find an educational institution, which offers such courses and, having produced the permit for attendance, sign up for them. On the BAMF website you can look for a proper school of the German language, which is located in the vicinity of your place of residence.

To take an integration course, it is necessary to write an application to the Foreigners Registration Office and obtain a respective permit.

For the attendance of these integration courses, you have to pay a small amount per each hour of the classes; however, the Bürgergeld unemployment allowance and social assistance recipients may apply for full exemption from such payment. Besides, they may receive a subsidy from the state for the coverage of the fare to travel to the venue of learning. The persons having the refugee status are exempt from payment for the courses as well.

§ Free-of-charge lessons of the German language offered by initiative groups in Germany

Various charity organizations and private individuals in Germany organize projects of support for foreigners and asylum seekers in their study of the German language. Within such projects they offer free-of-charge courses for learning the German language and social events in clubs to enhance the skills of communication in German. Several such offers can be found in the list below.

The Otto Benecke Fund helps young people with migration background to take the learning courses of the German language for receiving higher education.

A special mention should be made of the Otto Benecke Stiftung e.V. Higher Education Guarantee Fund, which helps young people with migration background to receive higher education or have their educational qualifications confirmed in Germany. Within the framework of such assistance the Fund also organizes free German language courses for those who intend to enter higher education institutions.

German language courses for everybody
The network of free-of-charge German-language lessons for refugees and migrants in Berlin
Student initiative in Dresden
Support for refugees in their introduction to the German language; foreign-language lessons delivered by refugees
German for everybody
Free-of-charge German-language courses offered by the university in Bremen
Refugees support center
Information & Support Center for refugees in Hamburg – classes are delivered in groups and individually
Dialogue in German
Group meetings for joint conversation and German language training in libraries of Hamburg
Communication groups
Groups for communication and upgrading the knowledge of the German language in Hamburg and the neighbourhood, free-of-charge
Lesson of German
Search for and offer of free German-language lessons
Bucerius Law School
Free German-language courses in Hamburg

If your city is missing in the above list, you may search for it in Google by such words as initiative deutschkurs or deutschstunde kostenlos plus enter the name of your city, and, most likely, you will find suitable options.

§ Paid and free courses offered by language schools of Germany

The German language learning in Germany is provided by several private language schools, as well as educational institutions offering various courses for upgrading qualifications and retraining. Besides, the German language courses are also organized under universities of Germany. Usually such educational institutions offer classes to be paid for, but for recipients of social assistance and the Bürgergeld/ALG-II unemployment allowance they offer language courses that are funded by the state. In order to receive information on such courses, you need to address the nearest schools. The German language courses, which are financed by the Federal Employment Agency, as well as job-placement centers, can be found on the Federal Employment Agency website Kursnet Arbeitsagentur. On that website, for obtaining the list of options and selecting the most appropriate one, you should enter the name of your city and the search word – deutschkurs.

Besides, language schools once in a while organize free or very inexpensive lessons or communication meetings for certain categories of persons. Having turned to such schools at or in the vicinity of your place of residence, you may find out if they have such offers available.

Apart from the above-listed schools, which have their affiliations in many cities of Germany, other local private schools are also available in most cities.

§ German language courses for ethnic German resettlers, late resettlers in Germany

Under the law of Germany, the ethnic German resettlers, late resettlers as well as their spouses and children are entitled to a free integration course of the German language, which is described above on this page, as well as to receiving the reimbursement of the travel costs connected with the attendance of the given course. The best way to get registered for this course is to find a nearest school offering integration courses to be consulted there on the attendance of such a course. It is most likely that the school staff will advise you on filing the application and help you to fill out a respective form.

§ German language courses for refugees (asylum seekers) in Germany

Initial orientation and the German language courses for refugees (in German: Erstorientierungskurse)

The refugees, who have arrived in Germany, but have not received the resolution on their status of residence in Germany, or who do not have an opportunity to take an integration course, can take a course of initial orientation in Germany. This course, which helps in mastering the German language and being introduced into the life in Germany, contains 10 modules including, among others, as follows: work, shopping, health, transport, habits, and housing.

Integration course for asylees in Germany

The refugees, who have received political asylum and the right to stay in Germany, can take integration courses as described above on this page. To find the nearest schools offering such courses, go to the BAMF website.

§ German language courses for work in Germany

The state provides job-placement support to the persons with migration background and the EU citizens residing in Germany, and in the framework of such support has organized the German language courses named «German for professional purposes» (ESF-BAMF). At these courses, the person would develop or improve their skills of communication as necessary at the workplace, visit German enterprises, build up their vocabulary, as well as learn special German-language modules that are important for their profession. The given course helps the person to find a job as well as to master the vocabulary, which is necessary for their profession, and to receive support for undergoing the qualifications recognition procedure.

The given course is most demanded among those, whose profession is regulated and requires recognition of foreign qualifications in Germany as well as the required German language proficiency level for working in Germany. This course provides an opportunity to reach the level of proficiency in German through to "C2" (for more details, see the German language proficiency levels).

The state finances the given course for non-working people, while the rest attendees pay a small fee, which may be paid as well by their employers should the latter volunteer to do so.

The nearest courses of German for professional purposes can be found on the Federal Employment Agency website Kursnet Arbeitsagentur

Besides, there is another program of support in learning the German language for professional purposes in Germany; it is “Integration Through Qualification”, IQ Netzwerk. Under this program, the free courses of the German language for professional purposes are offered as well: Berufsbezogenes Deutsch, Berufsbezogene Deutschsprachförderung

§ German language courses for study in Germany

In order to enter a higher education institution in Germany, it is necessary to have a required German language proficiency level for studying in Germany, which has to be evidenced by a respective certificate. Usually for studying at a higher education institution it is necessary to pass the TestDaF test; the schools, which offer free-of-charge or paid-for courses for taking such a test, can be found on the website of Fachverband für Deutsch als Fremd- und Zweitsprache.

Besides, some higher education institutions offer the opportunity for their students to learn the German language free of charge in parallel with the principal curriculum. To this end, it is necessary to address the respective bureau of the college or university in question.

§ German language courses for children in Germany

In Germany, there are courses available for people of any age, including children and youth. Kids receive support in the study of the German language as early as in kindergartens and initial classes of general education schools. To this end, children do tests in the language proficiency and in parallel with the principal curriculum attend the free associate courses to master German.

If a child has already finished school, s/he may take a free integration course for youth. The procedure for obtaining a permit to take such a course and the opportunities for the free-of-charge learning are the same as the regulations set for adults. For more details, see the page above.

§ Free online courses

Apart from the German language courses described here, there are also many free online courses, that help you learn German on your own. For more information about them, see a dedicated page on our website covering independent study of the German language.

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