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Language offers in Wiesloch: "I'm going to learn German"

By Ute Teubner

Wiesloch. "Do not worry: In the German language, some things seem very difficult, but often they are not that difficult." Renate Schlegel appeases the 23 course participants who are sitting in front of her. All very attentive and yet all in a particularly good mood. With sharpened pencils and the intensive trainer for "German in everyday life" in front of you.

Today is the dative. Not an easy subject. "Where do you like to go shopping?" Asks Schlegel, who has been giving so-called integration courses at the Volkshochschule in Wiesloch for over eight years. "At the weekly market," replies a quiet, middle-aged man, completely correct. "And where are you going?" This time, too, he is the first to have a suitable answer ready: "I'm going to learn German," he says eagerly. "Very good, Amer," praised Renate Schlegel. Then she takes a short break to blow her nose. After all, she got a cold. Everyone laughs - such a strange word.

Mounira also snorts. The lively woman comes from Damascus and fled to Germany at the end of 2014. Her husband Amer came only a few months ago. So now the couple is sitting in the VHS center at Wiesloch Ringstrasse 1. Together with Richard, Bharathi, Elena, Menel and the others. As the only Syrian civil war refugees between Indians and Australians, Turks and Russians, Canadians and Italians. They all want to stay in Germany and have to complete the integration course, which is compulsory and prepares the participants for the naturalization test in 600 school hours.

The "language offer for people with a migration background", as Claudia Franzese calls it, is state subsidized and has been an integral part of the VHS program for ten years. Franzese is responsible for all integration and refugee courses at the Volkshochschule Südliche Bergstrasse in Wiesloch. And has his hands full with that: a total of 14,000 lessons of German were given by around 30 VHS lecturers last year.

While Amer and Mounira, as recognized civil war refugees, started their German lessons in December in the integration course led by Renate Schlegel, refugees whose status has not yet been clarified first attend special "refugee language courses" - if they want to learn German. These courses, financed by the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, are open to all refugees and each include 100 school hours.

Last year, reports Claudia Franzese, the VHS in Wiesloch organized around twelve refugee courses with 20 participants each. After the course, there is then the opportunity to continue in one of the integration courses. At least 69 participants have currently submitted the necessary application, reports the director of the Volkshochschule Südliche Bergstrasse, Dr. Annette Feuchter, not entirely without pride. However: "The following applies to all these courses: They are also associated with duties, such as regular attendance," emphasizes Claudia Franzese. And Annette Feuchter adds: "Learning German is not a cuddle course."

It can still be fun. A look at Renate Schlegel's integration course proves this. The participants come from 15 different countries and cultures. And everyone is "very eager to learn," emphasizes the former teacher and educator. "The people on the course get along really well," she says. "Neither religion nor nationality play a role here, although of course one's own origin is not denied." Course participant Richard, a humorous American, also emphasizes: "The integration course is much more than just teaching language; it offers a platform for people from different cultures and creates friendships."

Renate Schlegel's protégés will stay together until the end of July. Then you have completed the language levels A1, A2 and B1 and are well on the way to "independent language use". Also Mounira and Amer. The 56-year-old electrical engineer learns quickly and has no problem with either the German dative or the other cases: "It's similar to Arabic," he explains. Amer knows: Everything depends on language skills, but "learning also takes a very long time". The calm man from Damascus is impatient - because he still has big plans: "First I want to finish the course, then work."

Anna Maria, the 18-year-old daughter of Mounira and Amer, now also lives in Wiesloch. The linguistically gifted young woman is currently attending an integration course in Heidelberg and is hoping for a scholarship from the University of Mannheim in order to obtain the so-called C1 certificate - which requires a very advanced language level - and then to be able to study. Her 28-year-old brother already has a master's degree in business administration and is now looking for a job. Mounira and Amer sent him to Germany to study years ago. So that Louay has better future prospects.

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