‘Lack of learning skills:’ More than half of migrants fail German language test – state agency

Every second migrant attending integration courses in Germany fails to reach the expected level of language proficiency at the end of their training, authorities have said. About one in ten doesn’t have a basic command of German.

Out of all migrants who attended integration courses in 2017, only 48.7 percent managed to reach the required B1 or “intermediate” language proficiency level, a report issued by the German Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) showed. Slightly more than 40 percent achieved the lower A2 level, which equals to a very basic knowledge of German. However, more than 10 percent of the course attendees, including some who took the course for the second time, failed to reach even that.

In total, 289,751 people took part in the German language tests at the end of various language and integration courses for foreigners in 2017, according to BAMF. In an attempt to explain how some people failed to show any command of the language during the test, the BAMF told the German FAZ newspaper that some migrants fell ill when the courses were held while others found a job or went to live in a different place and did not take the test.

However, other evidence suggests that many migrants just skipped their classes. The attendance of courses was dwindling over time in many places, with less than half of people remaining in a class, the FAZ said, citing a report of the German Federal Audit Chamber.

“It can be assumed that a large part of the funds spent [on the integration courses] was lost because the courses were characterized by dwindling numbers of participants,” the Federal Audit Chamber’s report to the German Federal Employment Agency said. Some €610 million were funneled into the integration program last year.

Meanwhile, a director of one adult education institute providing language training told FAZ that many migrants just lack the necessary “learning culture” as they never attended school at home or dropped out of school at a very early stage. At the same time, other reports suggest that many course attendees are adults who speak languages which are very different from German, and thus have difficulties with learning.

The integration and language courses are offered to non-German citizens, who plan to live permanently in Germany, including migrants from other EU countries as well as refugees, who are required by the German authorities to attend the courses.

The BAMF report, issued in late April, came at a time when Germany was already facing some problems related to the integration of Muslim migrants and refugees. Around the same time, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that her country saw a new form of anti-Semitism, brought by refugees and migrants of Arab origin.

More than a million migrants from predominantly Muslim countries have entered Germany since the refugee crisis erupted in 2015 – fueling strong anti-migrant sentiments and protests against Merkel's open-door policy.

Last year, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union agreed to cap the number of asylum seekers at 200,000 per year. However, recently Merkel announced that Germany will take in some 10,000 new migrants who were selected by the UN’s refugee agency.