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Are these the best German cities to learn a foreign language?

Germany has a wealth of multicultural cities - but which are the best for immersing yourself in a foreign language? Here's what a new study has to say.

Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf city centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/engel.ac - stock.adobe.com | Peter Cremer Holding GmbH & Co.

When learning a new language, there’s no better way to improve than to by immersing yourself in the culture and chatting with native speakers. That means that places with huge expat communities can be great places to pick up another language or brush up your skills.

So, where in Germany can you find the most languages spoken – and the most opportunities to practice them?

According to a new study by language learning app Preply, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt am Main are the German cities that offer the best opportunities for language learners and foreign language speakers in the country.

The study analysed data from 16 major German cities, including the number of foreign language speakers, the number of multilingual facilities (restaurants, grocery shops, community centres, etc.) on offer and the number of language schools available in each city, as well as their average rating. 

Surprisingly, Germany’s highly multicultural capital, Berlin, failed to top the list for 2022. 

READ ALSO: The best ways to improve your German for free

Instead, Germany’s banking metropolis Frankfurt am Main and Germany’s fashion and media city, Düsseldorf, both came in top due to the sheer diversity of their populations and the size of their expat communities. 

In particular, Frankfurt boasts not only the third highest number of foreign language speakers per capita, but also the highest number of foreign language institutions such as restaurants, community centres, and local shops. 

Meanwhile, Düsseldorf achieved second place for the number of foreign-language establishments on offer and fifth place for the number of foreign-language speakers per capita. 

Berlin ranks at a still respectable fourth place overall among the cultural hotspots by dint of having the fourth highest number of foreign speakers per capita. However, researchers found that there was a dearth of foreign-language businesses and facilities available to language learners.

With only 154 local institutions per 100,000 inhabitants, Berlin only makes it to 7th place in this category.

The other top 10 cultural hotspots include Munich, Stuttgart, Mainz, Potsdam, Hanover, Hamburg and Saarbrücken, while Dresden and Rostock share tenth place.

Expat communities

Though neither cities have the most foreign-language speakers per capita, Frankfurt am Main and Düsseldorf both boast some of the largest language-specific expat communities in the country.

Both are the top hotspots for three of the most-spoken foreign languages in Germany: Frankfurt is top for Italian, Turkish and Austrian-German, while Düsseldorf takes the top spot for Polish, Greek and Dutch.

Apart from the fact that both cities have the largest selection of foreign language facilities and a high number of foreign-language speakers, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf also scored highly for their impressive range of language schools. 

READ ALSO: Is Frankfurt a good place for foreigners to live?

Frankfurt am Main skyline

The Frankfurt skyline. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes P Albert

While Frankfurt offers the largest selection of language schools per capita in Germany, Düsseldorf has the third highest number. However, language schools in Düsseldorf received the most glowing reviews from students, with an average score of 4.56 points compared to Frankfurt’s 4.47. 

Looking at the top three cultural hotspots per language, Stuttgart also stood out as a multicultural centre, with among the largest populations of Greek, Italian, Turkish, Romanian and Croatian speakers in the country.

Other frontrunners include Potsdam and Munich, which also boast large expat communities who speak one of the top foreign languages in Germany

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EXPLAINED: How Germany plans to make immigration easier for skilled workers

The German government has agreed on a set of reforms for the immigration of skilled workers, which will be approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. Here's what they're planning.

EXPLAINED: How Germany plans to make immigration easier for skilled workers

What’s happening?

Germany is currently facing a dramatic skilled worker shortage, particularly in the health sector, IT, construction, architecture, engineering and building services. The German government currently expects that, by 2026, there will be 240,000 jobs for which there will be no qualified candidates.

In order to help plug the gap in the labour market, the coalition government has been proposing changes to immigration law for months.

In September, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil presented plans for a new points-based immigration system, that will enable non-EU workers to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer, as long as they fulfil certain criteria, under a so-called “Opportunity Card” (Chancenkarte) scheme.

READ ALSO: Explained: How to apply for Germany’s new ‘opportunity card’ and other visas for job seekers

Now, the coalition government has agreed on a wide-ranging set of initiatives to help remove hurdles for skilled workers coming to Germany. The points will be approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, who should then come up with a draft law in the first quarter of 2023.

What’s in the plans?

The central aim of the government’s plans is to make it easier for people from outside the EU to find a job in Germany.

In the draft paper, ministers distinguish between three so-called pillars, the first of which concerns the requirements that foreign specialists must meet in order to be allowed to work in Germany.

Until now, they have had to have a recognized degree and an employment contract, but the government wants to lower this hurdle.

The draft states: “For specialists who are unable to present documents relating to their professional qualifications or can only do so in part, for reasons for which they themselves are not responsible, an entry and residence option should nevertheless be created.” The competencies could then be finally examined once they have arrived in Germany.

A trainee electrician practices in a training centre in Cologne. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

The second pillar involves skilled workers from abroad who do not yet have a degree but already have a lot of professional experience.

For employees in the information and communications technology sector, the requirement of having sufficient German language skills would be waived, and it would then be up to the managers of the company making the job offer to decide whether or not they want to employ the skilled worker despite a lack of German language skills. 

READ ALSO: ‘More jobs in English’: How Germany could attract international workers

The third pillar is about enabling third-country nationals with good potential to stay in Germany in order to find a job. The “Opportunity Card” falls under this pillar and will involve a new points-based system, which will allow non-EU nationals to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer as long as they fulfil at least three of the criteria of having a degree or professional qualification, having experience of at least three years, having a language skill or previous residence in Germany and are under 35.

READ ALSO: How to apply for Germany’s new opportunity card and other visas for job seekers

What other initiatives do the plans include?

The traffic light coalition also wants to do more to promote Germany as an attractive, innovative and diverse country abroad.

One initiative is to publicise job vacancies internationally and connect qualified people abroad with employers and educational institutions in Germany. 

READ ALSO: Will immigration reform be enough to combat Germany’s worker shortage?

The “Make it in Germany” portal, which has its own job exchange, will be expanded and further developed.

The government also wants to promote the German language both abroad and at home for example, by expanding digital language courses and exams.

The government also wants to simplify and accelerate the recognition procedures for foreign vocational qualifications. One of the planned measures is that the required documents can also be accepted in English or in the original language.

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