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German intensive learning course as a tool to mobility

Blumenau is a city in the Brazilian southern State of Santa Catarina and founded by European immigrants. It is known for the popular Oktoberfest and traditions left by its German founders.

Even though there is a perception that residents still speak German in Blumenau, the number of people speaking the language has been reducing along time. The number of students at the municipal university going to German speaking universities is at the same level, for instance, of students going to Sweden. European companies established in the Blumenau area complain about the difficulty in finding German speaking professionals.

In 2009, Furb (Universidade de Blumenau) and ICBA (Instituto Cultural Brasil-Alemanha) managed to cooperate and create a German language intensive course. Classes are offered from Monday to Friday, from 1:40pm to 6:00pm, from March to December. After the ten months intensive preparation course, students reach a B1 level.

A pioneer program in Brazil, API (Alemão Preparatório Intensivo) has allowed students to acquire proficiency in the German language in a concentrated period of time. As a consequence, mobility of students from Furb to German speaking countries increased both in academic programs as well as by attendance of traineeships offered to foreign students in Germany.

While FURB is a public university (public municipal autarchy) it is not supported by public funding and courses are paid by students. The maximum number of students at each API class is 15 but the average class size is about ten students. API is not exclusive for FURB students, it is opened to the whole community. One of the challenges in bringing more students to the program is making the course more affordable, campaigns have been developed to bring sponsors from the private sector. Even though all editions of API have been sponsored by private companies, contributions are not consistent along the time. This has contributed to lower the amount of tuitions but not enough to bring class capacity to full occupancy.

Also, the program offers one full scholarship for a student regularly enrolled at FURB during the previous year and that has been granted a social/economic scholarship during the two semesters prior to the start of the program.

Author(s):

Germano Gehrke    
FURB
Brazil

 

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