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Studying & Foreign Languages

Students at Freie Universität Berlin have many different opportunities to learn foreign languages. Some disciplines do, however, require even beginning students to have prior knowledge of a specific language, and in some cases tests are required.

Proof of prior knowledge

Some undergraduate study programs require certain language skills, which have to be proven either within the application procedure or within the enrollment at Freie Universität Berlin.

CEFR language levels

For “modern” languages, the levels of language acquisition are defined according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (see CEFR Information).

In the CEFR, Level A2 corresponds to about three years, Level B1 to about five years, Level B2 to about six years, and Level C1 to at least nine years of successfully completed school instruction in the language plus a stay abroad. This does not mean, however, that school records attesting to these amounts of time are automatically enough to prove that applicants have the required level of skills; in many cases, applicants are required to take a language test anyway.

For information on which subjects require certain language skills and at what level, please read the program descriptions under Undergraduate Programs. If applicable, language requirements will be listed with the key information.

For detailed information on language tests, testing dates, and equivalents, please see Language Center of Freie Universität Berlin.

Pre-study language courses (Vorstudiensprachkurse)

Students are permitted to enroll in pre-study language courses (Vorstudiensprachkurse) for a fixed term only and only on the condition that they demonstrate the required language skills in the final exam for the course. Any student who fails the exam is not permitted to enter the subject-specific portion of his or her studies (the Fachstudium). Some pre-study language courses take the form of intensive courses held before the start of the actual period when classes are in session (for example Ancient Greek). The only applicants permitted to attend these courses are those who have been admitted to the appropriate subject (core or module). For further information, please see the course catalog section listing the courses in the specific subject in which you are interested.

Learning foreign languages in general professional skills (Allgemeine Berufsvorbereitung, ABV) courses

Within the general professional skills (Allgemeine Berufsvorbereitung) study segment, which comprises 30 credits, students in bachelor’s degree programs can sometimes take courses in the same foreign language or languages they are learning and developing within a program in foreign language and literature selected as part of the bachelor’s degree program.

Students do, however, also have the option to learn different foreign languages provided that the study regulations (Studienordnung) for the core subject permit them to do so, but this option is currently limited to a maximum of 15 credits (see Sec. 3 of the Examination Regulations for General Professional Skills Courses (ABV-Prüfungsordnung) and the regulations for the individual core subject under Study and Examination Regulations, Guidelines, Bylaws.

The general professional skills courses offered are listed in the Course Catalog (in German). Please also see General Information on General Professional Skills (ABV) Courses (in German).

Learning languages outside the academic setting

If you would like to learn a language but prefer to do so outside of the academic setting, Freie Universität Berlin offers various options, including tandem events and other events organized by the Language Center or the International Club (in German).

Starting your study program