Local language courses for international PhDs/academics

This is a key service for effective social integration of international PhD students, academics, and researchers, especially in everyday life outside the academic context. It is an advantage if the hosting HEI can provide the service within its own resources (by Language Department/ Language Centre) with experts trained in teaching the national language as a foreign language. Moreover, the language department could also offer other foreign language courses.

If the hosting HEI does not have sufficient capacity, partnerships with other HEIs in the city could be formed or HEI should create a database of language schools in the city/region. The starting point could be the existing practice of providing language courses for incoming Erasmus+ students. A complementary option is to explore whether there are any already existing e-learning national language courses and offer them to internationals as an opportunity to get acquainted with the basics of the language even before their arrival in the host country.     

Goals

Improved skills and knowledge

Basic information

Categories Language Support, Language Policy Social Integration & Daily Life Profesional & Academic Development Networking Family Matters
Mobility stages During mobility phase
Delivery schedule Periodic
Importance Essential to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers) Internationals spouses/family members
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Fixed term employee
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months

Practice setup

Setting up such service consider the following:


  • map the HEI's possibilities at the central and faculty levels

  • define the target group and collect data on a number of internationals who are to use the service annually

  • create a database of language schools in the vicinity/city

  • define a suitable model of courses (format: in-person, online, hybrid, length of the course, max. number of participants, schedule best fitting the semesters, optimally 5-month courses)

  • define what levels of language proficiency to offer (e.g. A1, A2, B1) 

  • in case of international PhD students enable to obtain ECTS credits for the course

  • contract workplaces/experts.

  • prepare a mechanism of registration and placement testing

  • create a dedicated webpage/website section with information on offered language courses, regulations of the Foreign languages department, FAQ, course enrollment and placement tests as well as e-learning course (if applicable)

  • it is also helpful to prepare tutorials on enrollment and placement and place them on the website 

  • promote the service and its inclusion in the welcome package of services

It would be ideal if the national language courses could be provided to international PhD students, academics, and researchers for free or with a significant discount. If the hosting HEI has the sufficient capacity it could also offer national (or other foreign) language courses for the accompanying spouses. If not, a database of proven language schools based in the vicinity/city should be created and published on the website. The hosting HEI can also map the situation for local language caffe (s) as well as check if there is any (accredited) e-learning course available and provide respective information on their Welcome centre's website.  

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Career development centre
  • Centre of language/studies preparation
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Language centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Municipality
  • IOM migration information centre
  • Local expat centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Training plan and programme designed
  • Number of collaboration agreements with external partners
Description of collaboration

External Collaborations

@ all - depending on resources and capacities as well as a number of target group members it might be considered to join forces with the other stakeholders in the city/region in offering the local language courses. It is worth mapping the possibilities of other external partners and establishing formal partnerships.

Practice delivery


  • Promote information on offered local language courses via various communication channels (webpage within information related to prior to arrival information and administrative duties, welcome package, e-mail communication before or upon arrival)

  • Make a survey and collect information on the interest in the service from international PhD students and academics (and accompanying spouses if applicable)

  • Promote the courses during the introductory meeting/ orientation week (incl. course demonstration, the introduction of basic phrases, quiz, etc.)

  • Each participant should obtain a certificate (terms and requirements need to be clearly defined before the course)

 

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Centre of language/studies preparation
  • IT support department
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Language centre
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Local expat centre
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Average satisfaction rate
  • Number of trainees
  • Number of trainings implemented annually
  • Number of researchers trained annually
Description of collaboration

External Collaborations

@ all - depending on resources and capacities as well as a number of target group members it might be considered to join forces with the other stakeholders in the city/region in offering the local language courses. It is worth mapping the possibilities of other external partners and establishing formal partnerships, negotiating details of providing the service (lecture rooms, timetable, course price), as well as contracting external partners (language lecturers, rental of lecture rooms, course schedule, course price per hour)

Examples of practice

Beginner's German for international M.A. programs, Ph.D. students, Postdocs and visiting researchers

The University of Tubingen, the University's German as a Foreign Language Unit offers a special series of classes for those of you who would like to start/continue learning German at a beginners' level thus helping internationals get acquainted with German and feel comfortable in German language conversations and small talk at the university and in everyday life.

Find out more