The Goethe-Institut ("Goethe Institute" in English) is a German cultural institution operational worldwide, promoting the study of the German language abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange. The Goethe-Institut also fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on German culture, society and politics. Goethe cultural societies, reading rooms, and exam and language centers have played a central role in the cultural and educational policies of Germany for close to 60 years.

The Goethe-Institut draws its material from many sections of the cosmopolitan German society and culture, combining the experience and ideas of its partners with cross-cultural expertise, the principle of dialogue and partnership, offering support to all those actively involved with Germany and its language and culture. The Goethe-Institut e.V. is an autonomous body and politically independent.

Partners of the institute and its centers are public and private cultural institutions, the federal states, local authorities and the world of commerce. Much of the Goethe-Institut's overall budget consists of yearly grants from the German Foreign Office and the German Press Office. The relationship with the Foreign Office is governed by general agreement. Self-generated income and contributions from sponsors and patrons, partners and friends broaden the scope of the work of the Goethe-Institut. The Goethe-Institut carefully coordinates its activities with other mediators of cultural and educational foreign policy.

The Goethe-Institut (GI) is a German non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote German language and culture outside of the German-speaking countries. Its primary concern is teaching German as a second language. The Goethe-Institut's second goal is to strengthen Germany's international cultural relations. This includes not only the exchange of films, music, theatre, literature, and the like, but also the values of civil society.


1951The Goethe-Institut is founded as successor to the German Academy ("Deutsche Akademie/DA"). Its first task is to provide further training for foreign German teachers in Germany.

1953The first language courses run by the Goethe-Institut begin in Bad Reichenhall. Due to growing demand, new centres of learning are soon opened in Murnau and Kochel, the focus of selection being on towns which are small and idyllic and which show post-war Germany at its best. Lessons are taught from the first textbook developed by the Goethe-Institut, the now legendary "Schulz-Griesbach".

1953-55The first foreign lectorships of what was the German Academy are taken on by the Goethe-Institut. Responsibilities include German tuition, teacher training and providing a program of cultural events to accompany courses.

1959-60On the initiative of the head of the arts sector of the Foreign Office, Dieter Sattler, the Goethe-Institut gradually takes over all of the German cultural institutes abroad. This development of a broad international institute network signals an intensification of Germany's foreign cultural policy.

1968Influenced by the student revolts of the late 1960s the Goethe-Institut readjusts its program of cultural events to include socio-political topics and avant-garde art.

1970Acting on behalf of the Foreign Office Ralf Dahrendorf develops his "guiding principles for foreign cultural policy". Cultural work involving dialog and partnership is declared the third pillar of German foreign policy. During the Willy Brandt era the concept of "extended culture" forms the basis of activities at the Goethe-Institut.

1976The Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut sign a general agreement governing the status of the Goethe-Institut, henceforth an independent cultural organization.

1980A new concept regarding the location of institutes within Germany is drawn up. Places of instruction in small towns, mostly in Bavaria, are replaced by institutes in cities and university towns.

1989/90The fall of the Berlin Wall also marks a turning point for the Goethe-Institut. Its activities in the 1990s are thus strongly centred on Eastern Europe. Numerous new institutes are set up as a result.

2001The Goethe-Institut merges with Inter Nationes.

2004The Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes establishes the first Western information centre in Pjöngyang / North Korea.

The Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes reverts to its original and official name, Goethe-Institut (GI).

2005The Goethe-Institut is honored with the Prince-of-Asturia-Price of Spain

2007For the first time in more then ten years the German parliament decides to increase the funds of the Goethe-Institut.

It is named after German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


The Goethe-Institut is mainly financed by the national government of Germany, and has around 3,300 employees and an overall budget of approximately 278 million euros at its disposal, more than half of which is generated from language course tuition and examination fees. The Goethe-Institut offers scholarships to students from foreign countries. Most of these scholarships, however, are aimed at teachers of German.

The Goethe-Institut has its headquarters in Munich. Its president is Professor Dr. Jutta Limbach, the General Secretary Dr. Hans-Georg Knopp; Financial Manager Mr. Jürgen Maier.


The institute has developed a series of exams for learners of German as a foreign language ("Deutsch als Fremdsprache", DaF) at all levels: A1 up to C2. These can be taken both in Germany and abroad, and have been adapted to fit into the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF), the standard for European language testing. There is also one exam, the "Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom", which is at a higher level than the highest CEF level. Below is a table of the basic Goethe-Institut exams as they fit into the scheme:

CEF levelGoethe-Institut exam
C2Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung, Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom
C1Goethe-Zertifikat C1 - Zentrale Mittelstufenprüfung (neu), Prüfung Wirtschaftsdeutsch
B2Zertifikat Deutsch für den Beruf
B1Zertifikat Deutsch
A2Start Deutsch 2
A1Start Deutsch 1

In 2000, the Goethe-Institut also helped to found the Society for Academic Test Development ("Gesellschaft für Akademische Testentwicklung e.V."). The resulting TestDaF exams are run by the TestDaF-Institut in Hagen. The tests are supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and are aimed at people who would like to study at German universities, academics and scientists. The TestDaF can be taken in Germany as well as in 65 countries worldwide.


In 2005, along with the Alliance française, the Società Dante Alighieri, the British Council, the Instituto Cervantes and the Instituto Camões, the Goethe-Institut was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for outstanding achievements in communications and the humanities.

In 2007, it received a special Konrad Duden Prize for its work in the field of German language. [ [http://www.goethe.de/prs/prm/de2121357.htm 06.03.2007: Goethe-Institut erhält Konrad-Duden-Sonderpreis] de icon]

By country

*In Iran, the Goethe-Institut officially opened in Tehran in 1958, but was forced to close down in 1981 due to a diplomatic row with Germany. It reopened under the German embassy in Tehran as a "point for dialogue."

*In India the institutes are called Max Müller Bhavans in honour of the famous German historian and archeologist involved in the excavation of the Indus Valley Civilization in India.

Virtual presence

The Goethe-Institut offers [http://www.goethe.de/lrn/prj/fnu/dln/a1/eld/enindex.htm e-learning courses] and plans to open an island in the 3D virtual world Second Life [cite news |first=Nico Daniel |last=Schlösser|title= Zweite Chance |url=http://www.sueddeutsche.de |work=Süddeutsche Zeitung |date=2007-07-30 ] .

See also

* List of Goethe-Institut locations
* Alliance française
* British Council
* Confucius Institute
* German American Partnership Program
* Goethe Medal
* Instituto Camões
* Instituto Caro y Cuervo
* Instituto Cervantes
* Japan Foundation


External links

* [http://www.goethe.de/enindex.htm Official Goethe-Institut web site] (in German and English)
** [http://www.goethe.de/ins/wwt/sta/enindex.htm List of locations from the Goethe-Institut web site] (in German and English)
** [http://www.goethe.de/lrn/enindex.htm Learning German with the Goethe-Institut]
** [http://www.goethe.de/ins/de/enindex.htm Learning German in Germany – German courses and exams - Goethe-Institut in Germany]
* [http://www.testdaf.de/ TestDaF homepage]

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