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including hands-on report and interview with Dr. Neda Sheytanova, project manager of “Workplace German” in the Network IQ Saarland

Interlacing practice and language

German language courses “on the patient” prepare medical professionals for their career in Germany

Starting position/challenge

In Saarland hospitals there is a great need for doctors, posing a high demand for immigrant specialists. In 2015, about 16% (more than 800 people) of the employed doctors in the Saarland were of foreign origin. Since October 2014, the Conference of Health Ministers has been calling for stricter language requirements of level C1 in the field of medicine.

However, adequate offers to achieve the required language level for immigrant physicians were not offered in Saarland, with the exception of so-called ESF-BAMF courses for vocational orientation. In order to close this existing gap, the working group “Arbeitsstelle Deutsch” (“Workplace German”) of the IQ regional coordinator in Saarland developed the language course “German for Medical Professionals in Saarland”.


A practice-oriented language course for specialists with a foreign university degree from the fields of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy was developed. The contents were designed in cooperation with practising and leading medical doctors.

The special thing about the concept is that from the first day of the course, participants practise authentic communication situations and perform exercises on test patients while simultaneously improving their language skills. In a preliminary course, leading from level B1 to B2 medicine, the participants are prepared for the main course “German B2-C1 Medicine” in 400 teaching units. This leads to the examination of German B2-C1 medicine, a prerequisite for the licence to practise medicine in Germany. The preliminary course was necessary, as there were only a few interested people with the required language skill level of B2 at the start of the project.

The financing of the preliminary course by the job centre proved to be a major challenge in the implementation, as this is not part of the regular funding scheme of job centres. Moreover, there were no teaching materials  suitable for medical professionals at the B1 level. The teaching materials for level B1 medicine had to be redesigned by the “Arbeitsstelle Deutsch” group (“Workplace  German”).


Of the 17 participants in the first language course “German for Medical Professionals”, 16 reached level B2 or C1 medicine. 90 percent of the participants are already employed. The developed concept proves to be very practical because the communication situations with so-called “role play patients”, which were trained and practised in advance, are as realistic as possible, and the participants in the course are prepared for the future clinical routine with all its spontaneity.


Addressees for transfer:

Providers of German language courses, which prepare medical practitioners for the profession in a practical way.

Concept of the practice-oriented German language course:

For the preparation to acquire the licence to practise medicine, migrant physicians and pharmacists are taking part in preparatory language courses from level B1 onwards in order to gain level C1 German language skills. In the courses, practising physicians teach practical content in the courses, mostly from documented cases (medical reports, transfers, case presentations, etc.). In collaboration with socalled “role play patients”, authentic clinical cases are presented.


German for medical professionals in Saarland

Implementing organisation:

FITT gGmbH [non-profit LLC] - GIM Agency for Research and Transfer in cooperation with the educational organisation People to Work (P2W) (pre-course) and the VHS Saarlouis (main course)

Project Contact:

Dr Neda Sheytanova, Saaruferstraße 16, 66117 Saarbrücken, Tel.: +49 (0)681/5867 919, sheytanova(at)