Presentation of study on linguistic biographies of international students who gained university entrance qualifications abroad

There is a growing number of international students at German universities. It is particularly important to their academic success that they possess a knowledge of the German language. But where and when do students acquire this knowledge? A representative study conducted by CHE Consult in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut reveals that nearly half of the students who come to Germany from abroad currently learn the German language outside school or higher education. It appears that private language courses and digital offers play a key role. The remaining 50 per cent come into contact with the German language at school or university. However, only very few students acquired their German skills exclusively at school. The vast majority of them also simultaneously make use of services offered outside school. A brochure to accompany the study, entitled “Deutsch Lernen für das Studium” (Learning German for Higher Education), has now been presented in Berlin, containing a summary of the study.

“In order to conduct this study, we surveyed international students from 22 higher education institutions in Germany who are pursuing a degree here,” explained CHE Consult’s Julia Klingemann. “We managed to identify four typical pathways for learning German in the students’ educational biographies. By initiating this study, the Goethe-Institut has made an important contribution to the debate on how the learning of German abroad can be promoted even more effectively so as to offer young people prospects for studying and working in Germany.”

Johannes Ebert, Secretary General of the Goethe-Institut, stressed: “The study provides important impetus for us to devote our efforts at the Goethe-Institut to promoting the German language in an even more targeted manner in the years ahead.” With 159 institutes in 98 countries, the Goethe-Institut promotes knowledge of the German language abroad, fosters international cultural cooperation, and conveys a comprehensive image of contemporary Germany.

Ideas for policy conclusions that needed to be drawn were gained from the discussion of the results in Berlin: in order to attract a larger number of qualified students from abroad, it is important to ensure that they are offered high-quality options for learning German at all stages of their educational biography – from childhood onwards, based not only on curricular studies, but also on offers outside school and higher education.

The study also revealed that more than one in three of the students surveyed (36%) in Germany is pursuing one of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In fact, this figure increases to 41 per cent for students who start university in Germany straight after leaving school. This means that international students are particularly interested in studying STEM subjects in Germany. It is also crucial to the future professional success of international students that they are taught subject-specific German.

The study also reveals the growing importance of self-organised and digital learning. Around 30 per cent of those interviewed taught themselves German; around 24 per cent make use of digital services to learn German. Educational videos ranked top among the digital learning aids mentioned, followed by online portals, audio courses and learning apps. These options should be expanded and dovetailed with existing offers in the future.



Lars Hüning+49 30 2332267-56Write e-mail