Fri, 8 September 2017

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What Level of German is Enough to Study in Germany?

Learning foreign language is hard for most of the people.  But if you want to study abroad, speaking the language of the country is one of the vital skills you’ll need.  If your want to study in a German university, you definitely need to start learning German language as soon as possible.

Use different types of study books and dictionaries to learn German
Use different types of study books and dictionaries to learn German

“Do I need to learn German to study at German university?” is one of the most frequent questions we receive. The general answer to this question is “Yes, you will need to learn German”.  And yes, it applies even to those international students who plan to apply to the programs taught in English. German is the only official language in Germany. English will be enough to pass your theoretical math exam, but you will still need German language skills to communicate in a bank to open an account or in a city hall that you want to do Anmeldung (and you will need to know that Anmeldung means registration) .

Now that we all understand that all international students will need to learn some German, lets just be a bit more specific.  How much of that “some German” will be enough to survive?  And what level of German is needed to succeed?

You plan to study in English program at German university? Then you should have at least A2 level of German skills upon arrival.  And here is why.

University admission offices specify the language skills required to be enrolled into any study program. If you are applying to a study program taught in English, then the admission office will not require any German proficiency certificate.  But without a single word of German you will feel completely lost in the country. That’s why I recommend all potential students to have at least A2 level of German before you come over. Consider this: you will need to do all the paperwork with local authorities, insurances, banks in German. Bureaucracy is complicated even in your native tongue. Doing it in foreign language makes it tenfold difficult.

So here is my pro-tip for potential students: invest  at least 150 hours into learning German. Depending on the intensity of your course, it’s anywhere between 3 and 12 months.  Regardless of your choice in educational program, start learning German now, if you have not yet.

A2 is the absolute minimum level that will allow you to survive on your own.  But if you want to succeed in Germany, you will definitely need to drill it more.

Plan to apply to a study program in German? Then you will need B2-C1 level of German language skills to meet admission requirments.

If you are applying to the program in German, you will be required to show a proof of your German proficiency.   You will need to take TestDaF or TestDSH language exam and score the sufficient mark to be admitted to the study program.  These both test are designed for foreign students to prove that their German language skills are accomplished enough to be able to take university level course and pass exams. Usually the language learning guidelines suggest level B2- C1 to be sufficient for taking these exams. This level means about 800-1000 lessons which anywhere between 2 and 10 years of German language learning.

I cannot emphasize enough that the earlier you start learning German language the better. There are numerous available learning options: online course,  classes at your school, tutors, language schools in your city. You might even consider taking couple of months or a whole year to learn German in one of the Goethe institutes in Germany.  Language skills are vital if you decide to study abroad.  So start learning! 

             Maria Ka Bio image
Maria Ka, Decode21 team leader

Currently in Düsseldorf | Alumni University of Bonn

"It takes lots of courage and self-determination to make a decision to change your life. I know it, because over a decade ago I was in the similar position. Choosing study program, applying to the university, securing scholarship - I have done it all. On Decode21 website I share my experience and opinion. I am here to give my advice about every step in application process. Contact me with your questions and doubts. And see you in Germany!"