Refugees face numerous challenges starting over in a new place. Many had to flee their homes in a hurry, so they arrived in Germany without a job or housing, and also without knowing the language. “Many refugees start out living in collective accommodations where they have little contact with German speakers. In the beginning, they don’t have many opportunities to learn the language,” says sociologist Cornelia Kristen, who is conducting research on language learning among refugees based on data from Living in Germany.
She says that compared to other new immigrants, more refugees enroll in language classes, with almost three-quarters taking a German class. And the classes pay off. Despite starting off knowing less German than other immigrants, refugees improve rapidly in their first year and after about four years, they speak German just as well as other immigrants. These and other findings from the study by Cornelia Kristen and her team have been published as a DIW Berlin Wochenbericht (in German).