Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Language and integration course

A week ago yesterday, Monday 6th of Feb, I received a referral letter from the Auslanderamt (the German government's 'Foreign Citizens Agency.) This letter now allows me to take German language courses for 1 Euro per hour which is subsidized by the government. That will cost me a lot less money than paying for the language courses on my own. They provided a list of schools in Duesseldorf that are approved and certified. Unfornately, the Sprachcaffe is not on the list. Remember the Sprachcaffe is the language school where I am currently learning German. If any one is searching for a good language school, I say choose the Sprachcaffe. The instructors are excellent and the classes are relatively small. My class currently has five students including myself: one Japanese guy, an English guy, a Thai woman and the American woman from San Francisco--she's now my lunch buddy. I am really going to miss her when she returns to San Francisco in three weeks. This is her last week attending classes.:( So back to the main point. I will have two more weeks after this week at the Sprachcaffee. Then I will be going to Berlitz. Berlitz has a good reputation and I am not too worried about it. In addition to the language course, Berlitz has the mandatory "Integration Course" that the German government requires of me. It consists of the Germany culture, history and government. I probably know a lot of it already. So I am not too worried about that either. It's just that I like the Sprachcaffe, but they do not offer the integration course.

The course starts at Berlitz on March 6th. It starts at a slightly higer level than a beginner's level. I had to take a test yesterday to see if I could place into the course and luckily I passed! I will keep you posted about my transition from the Sprachcaffee to Berlitz. Bis spater...
UPDATE on March 16, 2006: The language course at Berlitz was postponed by one month. So I am at the Sprachcaffee from March 6th-10th & March 13th-17th. After that I will just study at home and allow some time for all the German I've learned thus far to sink in before I start at Berlitz on April 6th...


Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Hey James - I think it is cool the pace you are learning at. Integration is definitely high on the list and I'd guess that is why your current class isn't on the list. IT's interesting though! I wish they had more of that here in Vancouver for classes.

8:19 PM  
Blogger J said...

Do you and the American woman speak German or English at lunch? I've had a few Americans and Canadians in past German classes, and we mostly spoke German outside of the classroom.

9:40 PM  
Blogger James said...

expat traveler: Yeah, they probably need the integration courses for those going to Canada from a non-westernized country.

J: I hate to admit it, but we speak mostly English.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

More info please? I don't understand how this came about. When I signed in to the city I didn't get any offers of help to offset the cost of my language courses. As a result I can barely afford the Volkshochschule, and there's no way I could afford Berlitz. Although I interviewed them (among others) and was very pleased with what I saw, when I received the list of fees it pretty much shut down all my hopes of going there. If you don't mind, could you please tell me how to do this? I could still use the help. I have a link on my blog page if you'd rather mail me privately. Either way I'd really appreciate it. Any and all ways, congratulations on achieving this. Rock the Berlitz for us. :)

Next question in my drill-n-grill (if you don't mind), what's this about a mandatory integration course? I was never told anything about that either! I'm beginning to wonder if G and I slept through our whole Auslanderamt appointment.

~Lisa the Clueless

11:01 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Yeah, what's the mandatory integration course? I never had to have one either.

The nice thing about Berlitz is you learn from a native speaker. Not such a trick when you are learning German in Germany, but if you ever want to learn Dutch, you'll learn from a Dutch person, Italian from an Italian, etc.

...and that's why you can't take Latin at a Berlitz school.

11:23 PM  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:38 AM  
Blogger J said...

My school also offers the integration course. It came into existence about a year ago and is for people that qualify for perm residency. I don't know if you'd be eligible for it if you already have perm residency.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

That's the confusing thing, J. Despite being sponsored by and married to G since '99, I only qualified for permanent residency since April of last year. (Niederlassungserlaubnis) Before that I had the same allowance to stay that James does (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), and I'm assuming M sponsored him, so our situation is likely similar. Yet for the past six years no one told me of having to attend any classes or offered any help. Maybe it's because I'm a Hausfrau and haven't yet expressed interest in working outside the home.

The reason I'm asking is, I wonder if I'll be required in future to take the mandatory integration class, and whether it'll be required for everyone.

11:59 AM  
Blogger christina said...

Lisa - This came into effect Jan 2005 with the new "Zuwanderungsgesetz" - it's only for really new immigrants who haven't been here that long. They started this immigration thing at the same time as they reduced the residence permit types down to two. If you have your Niederlassungerlaubnis you won't be required to take any courses and it's not required for everyone, in fact new immigrants who can demonstrate a good level of German don't have to do it either. It's just to make sure that people are properly integrating - in order to stay in Germany you (meaning new immigrants) have to get certification that says your German is adequate for everyday life. You *could* try to see if you still qualify, but I doubt it if you've been here 6 years.

If you want to take a look the new law, some of it is here, but it's all pretty complicated.


I think the integration courses are a great idea and I wish they'd had them when I moved over here. I got zero help with anything and had to pay my own way as well. I went to the Volkshochschule which was fairly reasonable back then and OK since I was willing to do a lot of work on my own as well. Berliz was and still is incredibly expensive. I almost got a job there once but decided against it because I didn't like their contract requirements, but they do have an excellent reputation and I'm sure anyone who goes there learns a lot.

Good luck, James! Sorry to hijack your comments.

3:27 PM  
Blogger James said...

Lisa & Christina,
No worries about "hijacking" my comments. :) I am glad my post lead to a discussion. My integration courses are required and are part of my language courses. I took a test at the Auslanderamt and the employee said I did not have to take German language classes as far as the German government is concerned. She said my German was sufficient. The test was just a verbal conversation with her. However, I know that my German is not sufficient to get a job in Germany and I hope to eventually to start working. (although I am thoroughly enjoying the time off now since I was laid off from my job back on Dec 31st in San Francisco) She told me I have the option to take the German language course anywhere listed on the sheet. Berlitz was listed and I had heard they are pretty good so I chose them. They have the language and integration course built into one 530 hour class that will last approximately 6 months. Then I will obtain some type of certification, I think it is called B1. Then if I want to study at a German university or get a job I tihnk I have to continue classes until C1 or C2? Something like that. Either way, I have at least six months to go before my German is good enough to consider to start applying for a job here in Germany. Yes, the German government passed a new law that went into effect Jan 1st, 2005. It allows those new immigrants to obtain subsidized German language courses and I figured what the heck, I need to learn more German and it is paid for by the government, I might as well take advantage of it. It sure beats me paying out of my own pocket the full up-front costs. (Yes, I realize through taxes we as a family unit are paying indirectly) More later...

4:03 PM  
Blogger James said...

Just to clarify my earlier post. I do NOT have to take any German language classes per the German government. I MUST take the 30 hour integration course, however. Because I wanted to take more German language courses and ESPECIALLY at the subsidized rate where I pay only 1 Euro per hour of instruction which makes Berlitz VERY cheap (billig) for me, I decided to start with Berlitz in the class that has the Integration course built into the language course. I hope that clarifies it a bit.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

James and Christina, Thank you both. That clears it up for me. I took a look on the homepage of my local VHS and sure enough, there was the combined integration and language course. I'm going to look into it further as it says I can take it if I want although it's not a requirement at this time. The more knowledge the better, I say! I'm also going to check out the page you suggested, Christina. It'll take me a while to decipher but I've got the time. And James, congratulations on your already acquired language skills and passing the verbal test! For me that's impressive. I doubt I could've done the same. Like M said, you must be one smart cookie to have come so far so fast. Best of luck in your upcoming classes, and be sure and let us know more of what you think of Berlitz.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Nyana said...

Just to run a bit of clarification with the Canadian side. There are actually integration courses offered to new immigrants, international students, etc. The classes range from basic English instruction to social survival skills, such as finding a job, understanding the employment market, interviewing, financial planning/investing as well as some cultural content. Whether everyone uses that or not is another issue. But they are offered. There, I saved Canada's pride! :))))

4:43 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

If every immigrant to Germany took such an interest in learning the language as you all do, we really would have fewer problems than today. Unfortunately a lot of people that come here don't care about the country, its language, its history or culture, what makes it more than difficult to live together in one community, not just in those "Parallelgesellschaften". Integration is a process with obligations for both sides, and it's obvious that you all do your very best to manage your part of the deal. I really hope that the Germans you get in contact with also know how to fulfill their duties... :-)

12:18 PM  
Blogger Grendel said...

I'm very curious: Which schools in Duesseldorf are approved and certified? Could you provide me with the list?

3:52 PM  
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