In Germany, almost half of first-time participants don’t successfully complete their German language courses. A parliamentary inquiry also showed that the share of those who failed tests has steadily been increasing since 2017.
According to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper, almost half of first-time participants in German language tests for immigrants (“Deutschtest für Zuwanderer“, or DTZ) did not successfully complete their course last year.
The daily regional newspaper reported that of some 135,000 first-time participants in DTZ courses in 2019, some 62,000 did not reach the B1 language level, which is required to pass the integration course. The newspaper report referred to an answer by the interior ministry to a parliamentary request originally submitted by the far-right AfD parliamentary group.
According to the ministry, 45.7% of participants did not pass the test last year, a number that was down from 51.5% in 2018. In 2017, the percentage stood at 48.3%.
In order to successfully complete an integration course in Germany, migrants and refugees need to pass the final examination, which is made up of the DTZ and the “Life in Germany” test. To attain the integration course certificate (“Zertifikat Integrationskurs“), immigrants need to demonstrate B1-level German language skills.
Steady increase in students failing tests
The report also showed that among immigrants repeating the course, the share of those not reaching B1-level had increased steadily: 77.6% of the more than 82,000 participants last year failed the test in the second attempt – up from 72.7% in 2018. In 2017, the percentage stood at 65.7%.
According to the interior ministry, the language courses comprise 600 teaching units, each 45 minutes long. Each course covers “important aspects of everyday life,” including work and career-related issues, bringing up and raising children, leisure time activities and social interaction – as well as media landscape and use.
Level B1 equips participants with the ability to describe experiences and events in simple sentences, express opinions and write letters.
Criticism from the far right
Reacting to the answer by the interior ministry, far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician René Springer said the numbers showed that “many migrants” were missing the “necessary culture of learning” or the “will to integrate.”
A spokesperson for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer pointed out, however, that many immigrants had taken the courses after they had taken a literacy course. For them, completing the course with the lower A2 level would still mean that they had “reached their learning target and were successful.”
The spokesperson also listed measures designed with the goal to improve testing, including mandatory additional qualifications for all teaching staff, social guidance (“Sozialbegleitung“) for participants, babysitting services for participants in the courses as well as a minimum remuneration rate for teachers in courses with only few participants given in rural areas.
In mid-May, Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) said it had spent some €40 million on digital content to bridge the interruption of integration and language courses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to BAMF, close to a quarter million migrants in Germany have had to pause their courses during this time.
With material from KNA