German adult education provides relatively generous (compared with other European nations) opportunities for migrants wanting to develop their language skills and integration prospects. A 2018 study, called Who Visits the Integration Courses?, reports on a survey of participants. While many are migrants of all kinds, the courses increasingly include those who have come to Germany as refugees.
The survey covered 606 participants, equally divided between those from the previously dominant participant groups (EU migrants, migrant workers, existing migrants’ families) and refugees. The sample were following 42 different courses spread across five different states.
- The majority of refugee participants were male (80%) with an average age of 30. The non-refugee group were slightly older, and a majority (56%) were female
- The refugees came from 19 different countries, with 71% from Syria, while the non-refugee migrants were largely from central and south-eastern Europe
- A quarter of refugee participants and a sixth of the other migrants had spent less than ten years at school
- A high proportion of the refugees were Arabic speakers, followed by those who spoke both Arabic and Kurdish
- Three quarters of the refugee participants had some competence in English, and a quarter in French, as foreign languages; the non-refugee migrants showed a broadly similar foreign language profile, though with a slightly larger number clsiming some prior knowledge of German
- Both groups of participants made considerable use of digital translation services, with Google Translate predominating
While the refugee group shows considerable diversity, and thus a range of different needs, the authors identify a clear sub-group of disadvantaged learners, who have relatively short schooling, limited occupational experience, and little foreign language competence. This group is mainly male (70%) and from the near/middle East, followed by participants from central/south-eastern Europe.