To enjoy life to the fullest in Germany, it could be extremely helpful to be able to communicate with the locals. At work, you should get by perfectly well with 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.

Young black women and young woman from the Middle East sitting at a table and have fun chatting about something during German classes for immigrants.

Depending on your subject area and institution, it may 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 with your neighbours and colleagues. You can also look at the Deutsche Welle online: it has set up a portal for learning German with entertaining texts and audio samples.

Good to know

Despite Germany ranking tenth in the EF English Proficiency Index and Germans’ willingness to speak English, it is advisable to learn basic German.

(Required) proficiency levels in German are often stated and assessed via the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which provides a scale for language use from elementary (levels A1, A2) to competent (C1, C2).

You can learn German at the Goethe-Institut. It has branches worldwide and offers professional courses in almost 100 countries as well as in Germany itself.

The Goethe-Institut and the Deutsch-Uni Online also offer online courses with or without a personal tutor to supervise you.

If you need an official certificate to prove your language proficiency, the recognised examinations of the Goethe-Institut or the German as a foreign language test (TestDaF) [several languages to choose from] provide evidence of your German proficiency level. You can also gain TELC certificates for this purpose.

Many German universities offer German courses for international doctoral students and postdocs. Contact the international office or welcome centre of your university for information on language courses. The same goes for many companies and non-university research institutions, which either offer courses themselves or might support you financially in your efforts to learn German as quickly as possible.