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There are a variety of certificates and attestations that can certify your German language skills. The type of certificate you choose usually depends on the reasons you are seeking a German language certificate (e.g. to study or work in institutions that require German language skills, or to apply for a visa, residence permit or German citizenship). The following exams and certificates are usually recognised by German authorities and institutions.
Their internationally recognised certificates are accepted in Germany for visa, residence permit and citizenship applications.
Participants all take the same exam and are placed in levels 3 to 5, levels that correspond to CEFR levels B2 to C1. Achieving level 4 is sufficient to meet the admission requirements of all universities in Germany. Some even accept applicants with a lower score.
Reading, writing and listening comprehension are tested, with an additional oral examination to test your speaking skills. The DSH grades 1 - 3 correspond to the CEFR levels B2 - C2.
- DSH certificate (level 2 and higher)
- TestDaF certificate (at least 4 points in 4 of its areas)
- GDS certificate (level C2).
- Language Certificate of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Level 2 with C2 in each of its sections).
The DSH certificate (Level II - III) is the certificate most frequently accepted by German universities. It proves that you have sufficient knowledge of German to be admitted to a German-language degree programme.
DSH: Examination for foreign students who want to apply to a German-speaking university. It can also be useful for those who need a German certificate for a professional qualification.
TestDaF: This certificate is primarily intended for admission to German-speaking universities and is recognised by every university in Germany. It is also useful as a qualification for academic professions.
Großes Goethe-Zertifikat C2: This examination entitles foreign students to admission to German-speaking universities or other higher education institutions and is recognised as proof of ability to teach German.
Small Goethe-Zertifikat B1: This certificate entitles the holder to attend a Studienkolleg in order to qualify for admission to higher education in Germany. It is also widely recognised by employers as proof of intermediate German language skills.
German is also one of the few languages where pronunciation is logical, making it easier for you to learn.
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has produced a handy reference for people who want to learn a foreign language. The list contains the levels of difficulty and the estimated number of lessons needed to learn each language at a reasonably good level.
German is placed in category 2 and is considered to be of similar difficulty to English. The FSI estimates that learning German takes about 30 weeks or 750 lessons.
This study was conducted with a group of language learners who spent 25 hours a week in class and three hours a day on individual practice.
This may sound a lot, but even languages closely related to English, such as Spanish and French, can take up to 24 weeks or 600 hours to learn.
The most difficult languages, such as Mandarin Chinese and Japanese, can take up to 88 weeks or 2200 hours. Considering these facts, learning German does not take as long as you might think.
You can achieve this by attending a German course in your home country or online and then having your German language skills confirmed with a certificate via a language test.
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