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including hands-on report and interview with Sabine Stallbaum, head of the IQ project “Integrated professional and language learning and individual German language support”

German in the workplace

Training measure promotes occupational competence with practice-based approach

Starting position/challenge

The German language has grown in import ance over recent years as a key occupational competence. On the one hand, employees are increasingly being recruited from abroad to ensure the supply of skilled labour, while on the other organisational changes often also entail new linguistic challenges for employees who have been with a company for a long period. Due to insufficient specialist language knowledge, these employees  often remain excluded from advancement opportunities within the company despite having good professional competencies. General language courses frequently fail to meet requirements. The training measure “German in the workplace” is a response to this challenge. The measure has been designed and implemented by the NRW regional network's IQ subproject “Integrated professional and language learning and individual, vocational German language support (IFSL)” in cooperation at various times with the IQ Competence Centre for Work-Related German Language.

Implementation of the training measure

The measure focuses on the combination of three different instruments which are adjusted and adapted in terms of content for the company concerned. The first instrument is group language training in course format. The themes covered, such as pro tective clothing, hygiene, and employment law, are adapted specifically to the day-to-day work of the company concerned. The second instrument is language coaching in the workplace. As part of this, a language coach supports individual employees for a limited period, for example six meetings of 45 minutes each in the company. Where possible, the language coaching takes place directly in the workplace, and for the majority of participants, it runs in parallel with the language training course. Company-based language mentoring forms the third support instrument. This involves external consultants supporting the company in organising German language courses in the business and in adapting the language of the company to the requirements of the German language learners.

In this respect, measures range from revising materials for hygiene training or coaching units for employees with leadership  responsibility through to language-sensitive delivery of training to employees with minimum knowledge of German. Before the individual measures are implemented, a review of the current situ ation is conducted together with all parties to precisely identify the starting points of the participants and the reality of the world in which they live and work. What should learners be learning, what are they able to and what do they want to learn? Why, how and for what purpose are they learning? This ensures the right content is provided and enables assistance to be offered which is matched to the learner's requirements.


The combination of language training, language coaching in the workplace and language mentoring ensures that learned content is transferred successfully into everyday work and that it becomes established over the long term. This approach has already been trialled in the workplace at the Pahmeyer potato factory. In total, one third of the workforce participated in the German language support.

Addressees for transfer:

Businesses and companies, qualification and training providers

Training measure German in the workplace:

The training measure combines three different language support instruments (German language training in course format, language coaching in the workplace, and company-based language mentoring) which are designed and implemented to meet the needs of the company and of the employees. Implementation on site in the company ensures a high level of practical relevance and delivers a sustainable improvement in competencies for employees with minimal knowledge of German. The qualification picks up on a key aspect of German language support in continuing vocational education and training by both focusing on and integrating professional and language learning.


Integrated professional and language learning and individual German language support (IFSL)


Arbeiterwohlfahrt Kreisverband Bielefeld e.V [Registered Workers’ Welfare District Association - Bielefeld].

Project contact:

Sabine Stallbaum, August-Bebel-Str. 68a, 33602 Bielefeld, Tel: 0521/32 92 88 15, s.stallbaum(at)