Language fellowships and German courses

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Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Sponsorship and Network Department
Jean-Paul-Str. 12
53173 Bonn


Germany is much more fun if you speak German! Language is the key to a country's culture. Some of the highlights of the German Chancellor Fellowship programme – for example the meeting with the German Chancellor – are held (exclusively) in German. That’s why we provide support for you to learn German if you are not yet fluent.

Language fellowship prior to the German Chancellor Fellowship

We recommend that all German Chancellor Fellows who do not yet speak German fluently attend an intensive language course before they begin their fellowship. A language fellowship for an intensive language course of up to three months is awarded together with the German Chancellor Fellowship.

We know that German isn't an easy language, and that learning it over several weeks requires dedication and persistence. But we can assure you: it will be worth the effort! Your German language skills will help you integrate into your host institute and implement your project, and will open many doors for you.

You will be required to specify the extent to which you wish to make use of the awarded language fellowship when you accept your German Chancellor Fellowship.  The Foundation offers the following options for the language fellowship:

July-September: exclusive intensive courses in Bonn together with other German Chancellor Fellows

Intensive courses exclusively for German Chancellor Fellows take place at a language school in Bonn from July to September of the selection year, and we highly recommend these. The exclusive intensive course is the ideal way to learn German and prepare for your fellowship year. The language institute’s teaching concept is based on intensive support from qualified and experienced teachers in small groups. Together with the other German Chancellor Fellows, you take your first steps in the German language and start discovering Germany. Depending on your prior knowledge level you may request a one-, two- or three-month language fellowship. We recommend that individuals with no prior knowledge choose the full three-month course.

The Humboldt Foundation covers the course fees and accommodation costs (without breakfast) for the language fellowship in Bonn, and provides an allowance of 690 EUR a month for meals and other expenses.

Daily language classes provided a comforting structure to our first days in Germany, giving us the framework around which we could decide how we would spend our time and energy in adjusting to this country. My language skills progressed rapidly, truly growing in the moments where I was able to intentionally give up self-consciousness about my lack of command of the German language, and just try things out. I felt simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed; both bolstered and intimidated by the high-achieving, brilliant cohort of fellows whom I got to know increasingly well over the course of our time in Bonn. (…) We discussed our projects, learned how much we had in common in terms of our interests, and reveled in the idea that we’d be able to put the pieces together as a group over the coming year.
Katherine Peinhardt, German Chancellor Fellow 2019/20, on the joint language course in Bonn
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German courses are offered for example by


Carl Duisberg Centren
did deutsch-institut
speak + write Gesellschaft für Sprachunterricht, Marburg

Intensive language courses near the location of your host institute

If you are unable to attend the intensive courses in Bonn, the Foundation may fund a two-month language fellowship at a Goethe-Institut or other accredited language institute near your host institute in Germany. Please note that in this case you only have the option of a two-month course and cannot select your course duration individually. You will be attending the regular intensive courses of the respective language institute together with local learners.
The Humboldt Foundation covers the course fees and accommodation costs (without breakfast) for the language fellowship, and provides an allowance of 690 EUR a month for meals and other expenses.

Information for fellows with families

You may apply for a language fellowship for your accompanying marital partner; this language fellowship is subject to the same conditions as your own.
We are unfortunately unable to offer childcare during the intensive courses. We therefore assume that any accompanying children will not travel to Germany until you have completed your intensive language course. Should you require advice regarding individual solutions, please enquire with your contact at the Humboldt Foundation.

German language courses during the fellowship period

We want to help you continue to expand your German language skills even after you have completed your intensive course. You may therefore apply to the Humboldt Foundation for a grant towards the costs of German courses (usually evening classes). Please notify the language institute that you are attending the course as part of a Humboldt Foundation fellowship. We cannot fund intensive language courses that would interrupt your project.
Applications to cover the cost of German language courses must be submitted to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation before you start the course. Processing generally takes up to 14 days.

Online application

If you are a German Chancellor Fellow and would like to submit an application, please log in first. You will be given access to an online form which has been partially filled in with your personal details. You can then complete and submit this form.