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Germany

Learn The Language, The Only Real Path For Immigrant Integration

Refugees who are allowed to stay in Germany must attend an integration course. But many of them fail the language test. Why is that?

Language courses with migrants in Roedermark, Germany
Language courses with migrants in Roedermark, Germany
Hannah Beitzer

BERLIN — There are beautiful moments in the life of a language teacher. Going to the market with their class, cooking together and sharing the new vocabulary that comes with it. And there are the difficult moments as well, says Lena Kettler, who has taught integration courses for refugees in Berlin: For example when the topic in the textbook is housing, and the participants have to describe where they live. "I know that they have lost their homes, and are living in a refugee shelter."

People like Kettler have great expectations for Germany. Despite the change since Angela Merkel's "we can do it" slogan in the summer of 2015, language remains the real key to integration. Classes designed to give refugees this opportunity are not lacking. They range from friendly language cafés to the official integration courses of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees for migrants who have good chances to stay.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kharkiv Revisited: Inside Russia's New Assault On The "Hero City" Of Ukraine

The nation's second-largest city, Kharkiv was quiet for weeks after Ukrainian forces took control. But now it is again under attack as Russia pushes to capture the city that's considered the "gateway" to Ukraine. Die Welt reports from the frontline.

Damages due to Russian shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alfred Hackensberger

KHARKIV — "Come, I want to show you something," Denys Vezenych says, opening the door of his dental office.

The 40-year-old begins to tell the story in the waiting room: "It was April 16 when the Russian artillery shell hit. The windowpanes were broken, the walls had holes everywhere and the roof was destroyed. But I renovated everything."

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The repairs cost him several thousand euros. "You have to think positively, because life goes on," he explains with a smile. But this attitude is not so present generally in Saltivka, a neighborhood in northeastern Kharkiv. The dental practice may be like new, but the rest of this area in the northeastern Ukrainian city is completely destroyed.

The Russian army has done a great job in its three-month offensive on Ukraine's second largest metropolis. Countless flats have been burned out, the facades of houses have been shot to pieces, entire shopping centers have been bombed. Debris still lie in the streets everywhere.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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