German language classes for migrants insufficient, researchers say

Language classes for migrants in Germany are setting unrealistic goals, leading to a too high failure rate and frustration for the participants, researchers said on Thursday, demanding a revamp.

The classes are intended to make it possible for migrants to enter the work environment. Currently language learners need to reach a level of B2 on a six-tier grading scale starting at A1 for beginners.

This was too ambitious, the study authors from the Goethe-Institute in Mannheim and the Leibnitz-Institute for the German Language (IDS) said. “Only a fraction of the participants finishes the courses,” said IDS head Henning Lobin

Currently only a minority passed the B1 level, they said, calling for Germany to shift to A2, which is also more common in other European countries.

The responsible authority, Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), is critical of the study and its methods, saying 60 per cent of language class participants passed the required B1 level.

Germany’s chamber for trade and industry, however, said that the language skills of the migrant language course graduates were often still insufficient for them to receive job training.

According to BAMF, 203,000 people started a so-called integration class in 2018.

The study looked at the educational backgrounds of 600 language class participants from 2016. In a second step, 500 graduates were tested and only 5.5 per cent achieved level B1, one third A2.

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