Germans obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure

Germans will be obliged to take integration test – Re-education upon failure

Germans obliged to take integration test - Re-education upon failure
(c) EvgeniT via Pixabay


Today, the German office for migration and refugees (BAMF) published a report which admitted a partial failure of their current approach of teaching migrants and refugees the German language and culture via so-called Integration Courses (Integrationskurs). Yet the problem doesn’t lie on the side of the migrants, but rather on the side of the culture they seek to integrate in.


90% of Germans would fail an integration test

“Those who have created these integration courses especially the part where participants are supposed to learn about the German culture, social life, history and politics must have lived in a different Germany that anyone we interviewed. We asked about 2000 Germans the same questions course participants have to answer and 90% would have failed that same test,” said the head of intercultural studies at Viadrina University Frankfurt Oder, Prof. Dr. Hans Deutschendorf. “It almost sounds like an April Fool’s Joke,” he continues, “but we simply can’t ignore the evidence any longer.”
Ironically about 92% of the migrants pass that test (see official statistics of the BAMF here).
As a consequence the BAMF in cooperation with the ESF (European Social Fund) have worked out a new approach to optimize the integration process: All Germans citizens (18 and above) will be obliged to take the same integration test migrants have to take.

“We can’t have a situations where migrants end up to be the better Germans,” states Dr. Willer Nixsagsehör of the BAMF. It’s time the citizens of this country brush up their knowledge about the culture they expect others to learn about.


Political and Social Re-Education of Native Germans

Those who fail the test, will be obliged to spend 100 hours in so-called re-integration processes (Re-Integrationsprozess or short: RIP). That’s how many classroom-hours current integration course participants have to spend to learn everything relevant about the German culture therefore it should be more than enough for native Germans. Those courses can be taken in the evenings or on the weekends after work hours and will last between 3-6 months.


Proper Language trainings

It has become also blatantly obvious that High German, the language that is being taught in current integration courses and that ironically is even being used to teach German in those courses, is only spoken by about 3,14% of the German population (that’s pretty exactly the exact number of citizens of Hannover the capital of Lower Saxony). Though through some miraculous circumstance most Germans understand each other even in extreme situations (check this seemingly miraculous example of inter-dialectal communication) it would be humanly impossible for anyone to learn all 250 remaining German dialects. The new initiative therefore aims at making regular High German training obligatory for those who fail their High German oral exam which will be conducted via various institutions like the Goethe Institut or the Volkshochschulen over the coming ten years with all German citizens born after 1945. Participants will be randomly assigned to their exams so some Germans might still have a couple of years before they will have to face re-education. “We hope that everyone will take matters into their own hands and start brushing up on their language skills voluntarily.”


Heavy support from the EU

While the budget of approximately 600 billion EUR (that’s approximately 1000 EUR per German citizen) for the next ten years might seem steep at first glance, the economical benefit of a better integration on both sides and of fewer language related issues among Germans themselves will soon make up for this investment. The European Union is also heavily funding this project with 75% of the costs which is no surprise as Germany is the EU’s strongest link.


Similar consequences as for migrants

Those who fail their re-integration process, will have to face grave consequences e.g. loss of voting rights and continuous re-education until passing the test. “In a democracy we can’t have people vote, who have no clue why and what they actually vote for.”, says Prof. Deutschendorf. He continues: “We also think that the Germans will become more empathetic with migrants that had and still have to go through the same experience, especially when they realize how irrelevant this kind of knowledge actually is and when they are subsequently threatened with harsh consequences.”

Currently integration course participants might face shortenings of their already rather limited state welfare or non-prolongation of their right to stay.


Merkel welcomes new approach

Woman chancellor Merkel welcomes this initiative and, setting a good example, is already participating in one of the first model re-integration courses herself together with her favorite party member Horst Seehofer of the CSU, hoping to pass her test by the end of her current term. “I wouldn’t bet my house on Horst passing though”, Merkel said only half-jokingly.

Beam of hope for German citizens

We at smarterGerman are already developing a course for German natives to help them pass their Integrationstest with flying colors and to become better citizens of this beautiful Merkelocracy. How is your German today? Can you already answer the following questions from the final test of current integration courses? Give it a try. The questions are in German of course.




Waldkindergarten – Forest Kindergarten

Waldkindergarten - Forest Kindergarten
© Pixabay

Do you feel tense whenever you see a young child playing video games and wonder if they even know where strawberries grow? You are not alone. More and more parents find themselves looking for a way to teach core values and environmental awareness to young children. They find a perfect answer to this predicament in Waldkindergärten, outdoor nurseries that focus on exposing young children to nature. In the busy world of globalization and smartphones, this education strategy is experiencing more popularity than ever.

Germans Have Always Loved Nature

The premise of a Waldkindergarten is for children between 3 and 6 to spend their preschool time with outdoor activities. Children play, climb, sing and work on craft projects, free from the pressures of technology. There are only wooden, crafted toys. Most day activities take place in the open air, no matter if it’s raining or snowing.

Valuing nature and the environment is a recurring theme in German culture. During the Romantic movement in the 18th and 19th century, dozens of artists were inspired by the seasons, trees and plants around them. In medicine, time spent outdoors an der frischen Luft, ideally immersed in cold water was long considered the best way to stay in healthy and strong.

In the 1960s and 1970s, both East and West German political climates started seeing the rise of activist groups dedicated to peace, protecting the environment and eliminating nuclear power. And even in the 21st century, Germans find themselves sceptical of too much technology. The country is full of national parks, the green party has a lot of support, and  many Germans buy bio (organic) products.

So for many parents, the Waldkindergarten concept fits right into the idea of living a responsible life close to nature. The idea is an adaptation of a Scandinavian concept from the 1950s, although Germany’s first officially recognised version didn’t get its permissions until 1993. It is part of many other alternative movements in education, such as Montessori, Waldorf and Steiner schools.

Benefits of Being a Wald Child

The concept of a Kindergarten ohne Dach und Wände (Kindergarten without roof and walls) has found significant support in the scientific community. Waldkindergärten are preschool centres, meaning they aim to socialise children, aid their development and gently prepare them for school life which typically starts at age six. Some of the benefits of being a forest child include:

Increased verbal and language development as children don’t play with traditional toys. They are encouraged to create their own play environments using objects found in nature, and have been found to talk to each other more as they create their play environments.

Lower exposure to noise and stress compared to a regular Kindergarten building. You may have experienced the noise level generated by 20 children in a closed room, and in fact this has been shown to create stress for the children, too. *Wald* kids are less affected by noise as they spend time in an open-air environment.

Increased fitness, agility and vision as the environment inspires children to run around, climb and play. The outside world is a space designed for human development, without right angles and even floors. This has been proven to increase the coordination development of young children.

Better immune systems after spending many hours outside and learning to dress for and withstand different kinds of weather conditions.

In fact, in most studies which compare Wald kids to their peers, they outperformed the kids educated in traditional environments in every aspect of testing.

Where To Find A Waldkindergarten

If you are curious and want to find out more about the philosophy and availability of a Waldkindergarten (or Naturkindergarten) in Germany, the Bundesverband der Natur- und Waldkindergärten collects articles and contact information to get you started. It also lists partner nurseries in other countries, many of which teach German children.

Ludwig – Maximilians University (LMU)


Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) is in Munich, Germany. Duke Ludwig IX the Wealthy of Bavaria-Landshut founded the university in Ingolstadt in 1472 by special papal leave.

LMU: then and now

King Maximilian I moved it to Landshut in 1800 and King Ludwig I moved it to Munich in 1826, ca. 80 kilometers distant. King Maximilian I officially named the university Ludwig-Maximilians-University in 1802 in honor of its founders and it retains that name to this day.
LMU has more than 50,000 students (including 7,400 international students)—30,000 (7,400) women and 20,000 (4,700) men. Almost 9,000 students enroll every year. LMU awards almost 8,000 basic degrees yearly, including 3,300 bachelor degrees, 1,200 master degrees, and 1,400 doctoral degrees. LMU has a professorial academic staff of 1,500, a supporting academic staff of 3,000, and a non-academic staff of 2,400. Excluding its hospital, LMU has an annual budget of €579 million.
In other words, LMU is a major German university. It is the second largest in Germany and should be strongly considered by anyone, particularly international students, interested in an undergraduate degree, a post graduate degree, or supplementary graduate and research studies.

Place to study and live: Munich

Who would not want to live in Munich, given the chance? Munich is the capital of Bavaria and familiarly known as Germany’s secret capital, i.e., Munich’s economic and political influence is more powerful than one might suppose. As a consequence, Munich is a city which always makes Berlin a little nervous; it is a city from which spectacular careers can spring.
The city proper has about 1,500,000 residents and the surrounding area has roughly 6,000,000 inhabitants. Munich is an old and beautiful cosmopolitan city. While the Free State of Bavaria is a bastion of political conservatism, Munich itself is somewhat more liberal and, consequently, a bit more laid back than much of southern Germany. Munich is blessed with spectacular architecture, gardens, museums, music, antiquities, palaces, and art. It has dozens of theaters, four major orchestras, numerous chamber-music groups, and a superb state ballet. According to one report, more people attend musical events every week in Munich than attend two sell-out local Bayern-Munich soccer games. So, whether your “thing”is culture or sport, Munich will never, ever disappoint you.
Housing for students in any major university city is always a formidable issue and, Munich being a very, very popular city, finding student housing is understandably quite daunting. Housing can also be an expensive part of one’s education—although, since the university is tuition free (students pay only a nominal €111 for a so-called semesterticket), one must factor in that delightful savings.
The LMU Studentwerk München office can get you started on your quest for housing and, frankly, the sooner you start, the better. You’ll need perseverance and resourcefulness to succeed, but, since life demands both perseverance and resourcefulness, the experience will pay off for the rest of your career. Here’s a hint: one arrow to be sure you have in your quiver is a familiarity with social media. For example, use Facebook to identify other prospective LMU students as well as current students and former students. Each group can provide both mutual support to find housing as well as a wealth of experience to which only the personal touch has access. Be forthright in your questions and goals and people will bend over backwards to help.

A lot of opportunities at the LMU: Courses, internships and diversity

LMU has 18 primary areas of academic studies, including theology, biology, economics, physics, history, medicine, social sciences, philosophy, and law. The full list is at uni – muenchen.

To paraphrase the old joke, if LMU doesn’t offer it, then it’s not worth studying. Within those 18 primary areas of study, one can choose from more than 100 sub-area combinations of majors and minors at LMU.
What is particularly attractive about Munich, indeed, about most German universities in major cities, is the ready access to internships with major international corporations. Munich offers it all on a very grand and historically infused scale. The city is within easy traveling distance (car, train, air) to almost all major European cities, e.g., Zurich, Amsterdam, Vienna, Athens, The Hague, Berlin, Rome, Brussels, Paris, Copenhagen, Milan, Geneva, Lyon, Hamburg, and London.
The LMU library system comprises the main university library along with 130 decentralized libraries maintained by the individual academic faculties. Overall, the system is home to more than 6,500,000 volumes. While the volumes in the decentralized libraries are intended for those faculties’ students and not lent, most of the main university library’s 2,400,000 volumes are lent. Of course, students also have access to affiliated libraries in Munich, in greater Bavaria, and at other university and research libraries throughout Germany. For example, the Bavarian State Library has more than 9,000,000 volumes, including some extraordinarily rare items, available.
Munich itself is your campus and, if you’ve the time, your diversions can include skiing in the nearby Alps for starters; however, before you challenge the moguls, touch bases with the student culture office. It can provide information and guidance regarding trips, so-called culture clubbing, workshops, tours, and visits. In addition to these activities, you can always take advantage of student groups that might excite your interests, e.g., humanitarian organizations, religious organizations, international organizations, and career-oriented organizations. Students also always have leisure-time choices from art, music, historic sites, festivals, and films. You will never, ever be at loose ends in Munich.

Celebs at LMU

Isaac Newton famously wrote that “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Here are some of the giants on whose shoulders LMU students can stand: Pope Benedict XVI, Wilhelm Röntgen, Thomas Mann (I recommend Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull. Der Memoiren erster Teil), Werner Heisenberg, Konrad Adenauer, Berthold Brecht, and Max Weber. Beyond these celebrities, if a pope can be deemed a celebrity, there are 34 Nobel Prize winners, six renowned Germany statesmen, seven anti-Nazi resistance activists, numerous political and public figures, and a raft of notable alumni.
A particularly moving aspect of LMU, at least to me, is the White Rose Movement which opposed Hitler at the height of World War II. For a brief, but moving article on this example of German steadfastness in the face of certain death, go to White Rose. There are no greater shoulders on which one can aspire to stand than those of LMU’s White Rose Movement activists.
Ludwig-Maximilians-University is a superb choice for serious international students determined to acquire an excellent education which they can use to benefit themselves, their family, their communities, and posterity. Bear in mind that education is not the mere awareness of information; it is the brick-by-brick development of knowledge within a structure emphasizing character and integrity that enables the student to app
roach wisdom. As H. G. Wells asserted in his The Outline of History, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

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