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To enjoy life to the full in Germany, it is important to be able to communicate with the locals. At work you should be able to get by perfectly well in English. At many research institutions and university departments – especially institutes of science – English is the main language used among team members and for academic work.

However, depending on your subject area and institution, it may also be necessary to speak some German – and it will certainly be useful. Anyone wishing to get to know Germany and its culture better should acquire some basic German, ideally before arriving here.

You will then have plenty of opportunity to practise in your everyday life: when doing the shopping, listening to the radio or watching TV, or while chatting to your neighbours or colleagues. Or perhaps you will take a look at the Deutsche Welle online: it has set up a portal for learning German with entertaining texts and audio samples.

Good to know:

  • You can get by pretty well with English: Germans rank eighth (out of 100 countries) in the global EF English Proficiency Index.
  • Nonetheless, some knowledge of German is needed: the Goethe-Institut, Germany’s cultural institute with branches worldwide, offers professional German courses in almost 100 countries around the world, as well as in Germany itself.
  • You can also learn German by signing up to an online course with the Goethe-Institut or with the Deutsch-Uni Online – with or without a personal tutor to supervise you, as you prefer.
  • Do you need an official certificate as proof of your language proficiency? The recognised examinations of the Goethe-Institut or the German as a foreign language test (TestDaF) provide evidence of your German level.

More information

Tips and links about learning German and German courses on offer: > Improving your German

Why learn German? > Ten reasons to learn German