Refugee Project – Learn German! at Hochschule Geisenheim University

Highly motivated Ukrainians from the Rheingau with instructor Katharina Betker-Zawisko (third from right)

Since the beginning of the year, Hochschule Geisenheim University's International Center has again been supporting refugees in the Rheingau region as part of a project funded by the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts (HMWK). Part of the current project, which is coordinated by the Language Center, is the creation of digitalised teaching material that focuses on "Survival German" and intercultural competences around everyday life in this region. Since April, this has also been used in German lessons which take place every Thursday on the university's campus.

"There was a lot of interest in the offer," says instructor Katharina Betker-Zawisko, lecturer for German as a foreign language at the university. "The material created for this course, as well as the experience gained in running it, will help us to continue offering this support as and when it is needed in the future."

The first course is made up of highly motivated Ukrainians from the Rheingau region. Some, like accountant Yuliia, have been in Germany for over a year, others, like train driver Oleksandr, for only a few months. All of them consider learning German a necessity in order to communicate and live here. Iryna is also learning German to be able to work. A 25-year-old participant, currently living in Rüdesheim, who is a qualified teacher, is convinced that it is the only way to integrate in a new country.

The participants are very grateful about having this chance, and would also like even more chances to improve their German language: The young teacher would like more lessons, the train driver Oleksandr and his wife Yuliia would like to talk more. Progress is certainly already noticeable: the participants can already talk a lot about themselves in German and also understand numbers very well. The classes also make the wait easier for a place in an integration course. Natallia (38) has already made it: she was accepted in mid-May.

"I find it impressive how focused and motivated the participants are," says the instructor. "Of course, the mood is sometimes sad, especially when it comes to Ukraine, but that doesn't take away the group's will to learn the language. I have great respect for that.