English is well established in Germany as the lingua franca of science and research. Certain fields conduct most of their work in English, so don’t worry if you don’t speak German yet. You’ll be able to get by with English, but you will definitely gain more from your experience in Bavaria if you take the time to learn some German.
At Bavarian universities, English has become a prominent part of academic life. Research and academic output are often produced in English, although in some departments, everyday conversations still take place in German. Universities are increasingly offering degree programs in English, and you can do your PhD in English at most Bavarian universities. What’s more, a growing number of international researchers and teachers are taking up positions here. But you will ultimately find your experience smoother and more rewarding if you learn a bit of German as well.
Outside the university, you are likely to find people who are excited to speak English and want to practice on you. English language instruction starts early in Bavarian schools, and cultural influences from the English-speaking world are very common. Most Bavarians speak at least a little English. Moreover, several municipal institutions and authorities employ English-speaking personnel.
If you would like to teach in your field while you are here, you might be able to do so in English. The number of degree programs offered in English continues to grow, and most programs include at least some coursework in English. Check with your department about options for teaching in English.
Some degree programs will require proof of a certain level of German language proficiency as part of your application. Others might even require English. Check your program’s website to see if there is a language requirement and feel free to contact the program coordinator with your questions.
Although you can get far with English, we recommend learning German while you are here. It will enrich your cultural understanding of the region and create opportunities for you to connect with your community.
The Welcome Center at your university can provide information about language courses that are available to PhD candidates, researchers, and employees. Some universities offer courses especially for these individuals and their partners, including e-learning and blended learning courses. These courses are often free of charge.
Courses are offered according to your skill level. Whether you are just starting out with Guten Tag and Bitteschön or whether you are fine-tuning your use of the subjunctive, you will find a course that meets your needs.
If you are moving with your family, it is a good idea to arrange for your children to begin learning German in your home country before you arrive. This will help them feel confident in their new environment and make friends more easily. Prior language skills will also facilitate their transition into the German school system, where a certain level of proficiency is often required for students to advance quickly.
Welcome Centers have a lot of experience in advising researchers on schooling requirements and expectations. They are your first point of contact for questions about schooling.
You can also contact the state school counseling office (Schulberatung) to set up a consultation. These consultations are a public service and provided free of charge.
Do you need to submit a grant proposal in German? Or an article abstract in English? From writing tutorials to translation services, universities often provide extra language resources for students and researchers. Check with your Welcome Center to find out what kind of support is available.