So you’ve been hard at work studying German, perhaps even visiting German-speaking countries to enhance your studies, and now know deep within that you’ve reached a certain level in the language.
unBut how do you prove to others, as well as to yourself, that you are in actual fact working at that level?
Even though the reception you get when conversing with native speakers is good, not even this type of confirmation is enough to prove to prospective employers that you can get by in the language.
Recruiters will usually want concrete evidence of your language ability in the form of a recognised qualification or alternative certificate.
Prospective employers will want to see evidence of your language skills on your CV. Photo via VisualHunt.com
The natural way to gain a qualification in a language like German is to study it at school or college.
Pupils can enrol on GCSE or A Level German courses, but some schools offer language lessons in Years 7, 8 and 9 too which provides students with a good grounding of the subject.
Colleges, universities and other higher education establishments also offer courses whereby German is the lead subject or part of a selection of courses.
However, it isn’t just private and public schools, colleges and universities that offer certification in German. Learners can benefit from a number of organisations which award independent certificates to confirm your language skills.
The best-known centre for this is the Goethe-Institut, whose headquarters are in Munich, Germany but who offers examinations to language centres across the world. The Goethe-Institut has offices in Knightsbridge, London.
German at GCSE Level is offered by AQA, WJEC, Eduqas and OCR, among others. The qualification is designed to help learners to develop language skills and thus provides activities that have real-life relevance.
AQA officials have worked alongside teachers to create a specification that will stimulate and motivate students. As such, they’ve introduced a range of topics, many familiar but others focusing more on the culture of Germany and German-speaking territories.
While the AQA syllabus offers an insight into culture, popular areas of interest and study and employment relating to German, the course is examined on the pupil’s speaking and writing abilities.
The reformed German GCSE (which is now graded 9-1 as opposed to A*-E) is being taught from September 2017.
OCR offers a flexible course whereby tasks can be completed out of the classroom, which can help teachers to set assessments in more relevant settings to encourage a higher performance.
In a recent move towards offering even more flexibility to students too, OCR has introduced a short course whereby learners can either focus on just the speaking part or just the writing part of the course. This means that if you are better at one part, Speaking or Writing, you can opt to only be examined on these sections.
Edexcel, another one of the principal exam boards offering German courses, has developed a syllabus that intends to motivate pupils by bringing language to life using cultural references and varying themes.
The content covered is clear and manageable and has been trial led by teachers and students alike.
Learn German online with German tutors at Superprof.
Study German at GCSE to gain a recognised qualification. Photo credit: Northern Ireland Executive via Visualhunt
Through the understanding of culture in Germany and other German-speaking countries, students will be motivated to grow more curious about the language and its heritage and thus encourage interest to keep them engaged with German lessons.
It is this enthusiasm that will enable a language learner to be one more proficient and to start to think about broadening their skills either through further education or by embracing opportunities to travel.
All of the same exam boards offer German at the higher levels of AS and A Level, and these will follow the standard exam structure in terms of assessment for the unforeseeable future (i.e. being graded from A*-G).
With new specifications having been brought out this year for German (teaching from 2016 and exams from 2017), AQA has modified its previous syllabus which now includes, at a glance, modules on Social issues and trends, Artistic Culture and Grammar, with optional module Literary texts and films.
The contents of this higher level course reflect the sophistication of the course in comparison to the GCSE syllabus.
The qualification offered by AQA is linear, which means that students sit heir exams at the end of the course. Therefore, pupils will be assessed for the AS Level at the end of Year 12 and for A Level in Year 13.
As with AQA, OCR is currently reforming its qualifications in line with the government programme of general qualification reform.
While AQA has developed a new syllabus for German at AS and A Level, OCR has decided not to redevelop this specification and, as such, the final assessment opportunity for these courses (H076 and H476) will be summer 2017 and the re-sits taking place in summer 2018.
The purpose of the course is to give candidates a good grounding in all aspects of the language and culture of Germany, with the aim of enhancing speaking, listening, reading and writing skills within German.
With just one written assessment and speaking test at each level, the course’s examination methods are straightforward and cuts the burden and stress on pupils. There is no coursework required on this course.
Edexcel has developed a new accredited specification in German. The newly constructed syllabus includes cultural content designed to engage and inspire students while also offering pupils the chance to read and learn about German Literature to further enhance their language skills.
As previously mentioned, many AS Level pupils will have completed a GCSE in the language therefore this course supports the progression from GCSE Level and encourages students to develop and use the transferrable skills already gained in language learning.
WJEC provides an exciting opportunity for German beginners to build on their knowledge of the language through social, intellectual and cultural themes. The course is designed to develop a better understanding of linguistic properties and to provide a deeper understanding of the culture of Germany and German-speaking countries.
As with the new Edexcel specification, students enrolled on the WJEC German AS and A Level course will be given the opportunity to study literature and film to increase their cultural awareness and with the objective of encouraging fluency in the language.
Being taught since 2016, WJEC offers these AS Level and A Level qualifications, which have been accredited by OFQUAL, on the basis that prior learning has taken place in the form of a GCSE or equivalent qualification.
A German degree offers international opportunities but also provides a nationally-recognised advanced qualification within the subject.
German can be taken in the form of a Major with a Minor in another subject (like Business Studies or even another language like French or Dutch) but it can equally be taken as a subject on its own.
A German degree will offer you the chance to study the language in detail, learn about German history and study literature written by German speakers.
You can choose to study German at university, either on its own or with another subject. Photo via VisualHunt
By continuing your studies with a Masters degree, you can learn even more about Europe’s most influential cultures.
When leaving university after a standard degree-level course, you will be awarded with a BA, ranging from a ‘third’ to a ‘first’. Should you complete a Masters degree, you will additionally receive an MA. Most BA courses last four years, with one year spent working or studying in a German-speaking country. However, some universities offer five year courses.
The Complete University Guide has rated a number of educational establishments for this subject, and among its favourites are the renowned Cambridge and Oxford Universities, as well as Durham, St Andrews and Bristol. This selection is based on a number of factors like student satisfaction, graduate prospects and entry standards.
There are various websites and independent schools that offer you the opportunity to test your level of comprehension in German, but the best place to go is to the Goethe-Institut, an official, non-profit body for the testing of language learners in German.
While these may not be seen as mainstream UK exams, they equally serve to evidence the fact that you are working at a certain level in this important European language.
Moreover, the Goethe-Institut examinations are well-known across the world and the certificate that is awarded at the end of the course is accepted as a valid qualification by most employers and further education establishments in a number of countries.
The language courses have been designed in conjunction with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and offer options ranging from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced).
Centres across the UK and beyond offer the Goethe-Institut certificate, including the languages centres of Durham University and Manchester University.