Article submitted by the Humboldt-Institut: Learn german in Germany!
Language is the key to a country's culture. And the key to the knowledge of scientists and business people abroad. Studying at a University in Germany means to work, to live, to negotiate and to discuss with German people. Unfortunately just a tiny part of them speaks Spanish.
How good is your German? Besides scientific qualifications foreign students have to prove adequate language skills. The most popular test, officially accepted by all universities, is the TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache/Test of German as a foreign language). It is comparable to TOEFL (Test of English as a foreign language) and develops beside the academic value to one of the most important verifications for language skills on the international job market. Many companies with German business partners ask for TestDaF in vacancies and interviews. A good score makes applicants competitive.
The first TestDaF ran in 2001 in more than 300 testing-centers in 76 countries of the world. The number of participants constantly grows. In four years more than 25.000 people from 150 nations participated. The standardised tests are designed and improved by the TestDaF-Institut in Hagen/Germany. "All tests in our centres around the world take place at the same time", says Dr. Hans-Joachim Althaus, manager of the TestDaF-Institut in Hagen. Completing the four parts of the test takes more than three hours: reading comprehension (60 minutes), listening comprehension (40 minutes), writing expression (60 minutes) and oral expression (30 minutes).
In the oral part the students have to formulate their thoughts on a tape. "This causes a lot of problems without a qualified training", says Dr. Ingrid Spitzner from the language school "Humboldt-Institut" in the South of Germany. She leads the licensed test-center in Constance, which also offers special exam preparation courses.
The highest reachable result is TDN 5 (TestDaF Niveau = level). Candidates who pass all four categories with grades of TDN 4 will be accepted at all German universities. Some universities and universities of applied sciences also accept students with lower grades. It depends on the field of science, the number of students and enrollments. Students who do not pass the exam on the first try can repeat it as often as they like. At the Humboldt-Institut testing-centers nearly 96 percent of the students passed the TestDaF at the first time after they had finished a TestDaF preparation course at the institute.
For many people the TestDaF is a challenge. The studies are sometimes frustrating, the motivation falls. "Most of the students struggle, when it comes to the expression of their opinion", says Dr. Ingrid Spitzner of the Humboldt-Institut. Theoretically people can study German at home and take the test in their own country. But everybody who spent some time abroad knows: It is much easier to learn a language being surrounded by native-speakers.