DE / EN

Photo credit: Anna Logue

Proof of Language Proficiency

Attending lectures, participating in seminars, conducting a case study or writing a term paper: studying abroad successfully is only possible if you have the necessary language proficiency. This is why the University of Mannheim assesses whether students applying for a study place abroad have a sufficient command of the language of instruction used at the respective partner university. This is done through standardized proofs of language proficiency. The international partner universities also expect students to have a certain level of language proficiency in order for them to not be hindered in their studies. Some partner university even have particularly high standards. We will gladly answer any questions about the requirements.

Since there are a lot of important details when it comes to this topic, you should read the following information very carefully.

To apply for an exchange program at the University of Mannheim, you will need a proof of your language proficiency that meets the requirements listed here and is no more than two years old. Make sure you make an appointment to take the test in due time!

    General questions regarding your proof of language proficiency

  • What level of language proficiency do I need?

    The primary purpose of studying abroad is not to learn the local language, but to participate in a program of study at a university abroad. To be able to follow your courses from the beginning and without any major difficulties, you need to have a good command of the country’s official language or the language of instruction.

    You can use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for self-assessment. It is divided into six levels from the beginner level (A1/A2) to the average level (B1/B2) and the proficient level (C1/C2). To be able to successfully complete your period of study abroad and pass exams, the International Office recommends a proficiency level of at least B2Some partner universities may require a higher level of language proficiency. Especially in English-speaking countries, it is common for institutions to require a level of C1 or specific language tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS with high scores.

    • How can I improve my language skills?

      There are a number of different ways to improve or brush up on your language skills:

      • language courses of the Studium Generale: The Studium Generale offers a wide variety of courses. There are courses that take place during the semester, crash courses on weekends or during the semester break, grammar or conversation courses. For English, there are also TOEFL preparation courses.
      • language courses abroad: Probably the most effective and fun way to learn a language is through an intensive course abroad during the semester break. It’s worth the investment! By staying abroad, you have no choice but to immediately apply what you have learned. Most language schools offer fun activities to balance out the workload of the courses and give you the opportunity to use your newly acquired skills. Courses like these are offered both by universities and private language schools. You can find more information on language courses worldwide on the websites of the DAAD and the Fachverband Deutscher Sprachreise-Veranstalter (both websites available in German only). Of course, you can also research language schools in a city of your liking online and compare the services offered by the different programs.
      • after having received a study place abroad:  Many partner universities offer language courses themselves, either before or during the semester. You will receive information on these courses directly from the host university after you’ve been allocated a study place. Also check the partner university’s website. Yet, please keep in mind that the participation in these courses will have no effect on your level of language proficiency for the application.

      Tip: To brush up on your language skills, use the TANDEM program of the University of Mannheim. The idea is for students with different native languages to pair up to practice their spoken language skills in the respective foreign language. For example, one of the tandem partners might speak German, the other one Spanish. You can meet whenever you like and switch between the two languages, so that both of you can practice your conversational skills in a relaxed atmosphere and without any pressure.

    • How can I provide proof of my language proficiency for studying abroad?

      The University of Mannheim accepts different types of proofs of language proficiency for an application for a stay abroad.

      • The most commonly used proof of language proficiency is the so called “Language Certificate“ of the University of Mannheim. Tests to obtain the certificate are offered by the Studium Generale, for example.
      • However, some partner universities require special, internationally standardized tests such as the TOEFL or the IELTS for English and the DELF or the DALF for French. These tests are more complex and expensive than the Mannheim Language Certificate. In particular, universities overseas tend to require these special proofs of language proficiency.

      For English: If you have already taken the TOEFL or IELTS and it is still valid, you can always submit this test instead of the Language Certificate.

      In the section below, you can find an overview of all potential proofs of language proficiency that may be required for your application for a study place abroad.

    • Where do I find out which kind of proof and which level of proficiency is required by my preferred university?

      The type of proof of language proficiency and any minimum levels required are listed in the database of partner universities. This is where you can find the language of instruction for any partner university and which type of proof of language proficiency usually satisfies the requirements. Always read the section “further information”, as this is where any special requirements that we know of are listed.

      If there are no special requirements regarding the level of language proficiency, the regular minimum requirements for the usual tests apply:

      • for the Language Certificate (all languages) B2 in all categories
      • for the TOEFL (English) a total score of 80 points (at least 20 in each category)
      • for the IELTS (English) a total score of 6.5 (and at least 6.0 in each category)

      Please note: Information provided in the database is based on the information about the individual partner universities currently available to us and thus is subject to change.

    • Do I need proof of language proficiency for the language of instruction only or also for the official language?

      At partner universities with rare official languages (e.g. In Scandinavia, Eastern Europe or Asia), the language of instruction usually is English. As a rule, these institutions only require you to be proficient in the language of instruction. In most cases, you do not have to prove that you have basic knowledge of the country’s official language. 

      The language of instruction can be found in the database of partner universities. Any special requirements are listed in the “further information” section.

    • What does it mean when two languages of instruction are indicated?

      Some universities have different languages of instruction, for example if part of the courses is held in English and the other in the country’s official language. In these cases, you should check yourself whether there are enough courses available in the language you are proficient in. Further details are provided in the “further information” section in the database. If you are proficient in both languages and are planning to study in both languages, please provide a proof of language proficiency for each of them when applying for a study place abroad.

    • How old may my proof of language proficiency be?

      The proof of language proficiency is supposed to reflect your current level of language proficiency. Because of this and due to the sometimes strict requirements of our partner universities, by the application deadline, the proof must not be older than exactly two years.

      Some partner university don’t deem this policy strict enough, so that you might be asked to take another (more up to date) language test. We have indicated known cases of this in the “further information” section in the database of partner universities.

    • When do I have to start taking care of my proof of language proficiency?

      Appointments for the most common language tests (Language Certificate, TOEFL, IELTS) are often fully booked weeks in advance. Some test centers also take a number of weeks to score the test and send you the results.

      We therefore recommend making an appointment for the respective test two to three months prior to the application deadline.

      You do not have to take your test at the Studium Generale Mannheim. You can take the tests anywhere in Germany at any institute that offers them.

    • Can I apply without submitting a proof of language proficiency? Can I submit my proof of language proficiency at a later date?

      Applications without a valid proof of language proficiency will not be accepted. There is no general option to submit proof at a later time.

      However, for some deadlines, it is possible to hand in a preliminary alternative proof of language proficiency, if it is among the accepted proofs of language proficiency (for example a Language Certificate instead of a TOEFL). Yet, this does not apply to all deadlines! Make sure to carefully read the current application instructions for your deadline so that you are aware of special conditions like this.

      For students in the bachelor's program in Business Administration:

      Due to the different application process for the mandatory semester abroad in this program, students submit their proof of language proficiency only after having been allocated a study place abroad.

    • I am a native speaker, do I have to submit a proof of language proficiency?

      As a native speaker, you do not have to submit any proof of language proficiency if you fulfill the following two requirements:

      • You hold citizenship of the country whose official language you want to provide proof of and
      • you obtained a university entrance qualification or bachelor’s degree in that country.

      The reason for this policy is that many partner universities only accept native speakers without further proof of language proficiency under these conditions. In all other cases, you will have to submit a proof of language proficiency. Thank you for your understanding. If you are a native speaker, please consult with the International Office to clarify any matters regarding proof of language proficiency.

    • What do I need to consider if I am a foreign or non-European national?

      For further information please see the page about special requirements for international degree-seeking students.

    Proofs of language proficiency accepted by the University of Mannheim for exchange programs:

    • Language Certificate of the University of Mannheim (for all languages)

      The Language Certificate is the standard proof of language proficiency of the University of Mannheim for all languages and all exchange programs that don’t require a specific test (such as TOEFL or IELTS). It was developed by the University of Mannheim based on the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and is the most affordable alternative to other language tests.

      The form is only available in English but can be used for all other languages.  Fill out the header and bring the form with you to your test appointment.

      Where can I obtain the Language Certificate?

      • Students studying the respective language as a major or minor subject can ask their teacher at the English and American Studies or Romance Studies department to fill out the form. Students in the bachelor's program in Business Administration can obtain their Language Certificates as part of their foreign language competencies module.
      • Other students can take a language assessment test with the Studium Generale for a fee of EUR 34. The written part of the test takes one hour and serves to assess your writing and reading skills. In addition, your listening comprehension and verbal skills will be assessed through a ten minute conversation. You should plan on spending about two to three hours on the entire testing process. You will receive your Language Certificate on the same day or the day after. For information about registering for the test please visit the website of the Studium Generale.

      As an alternative, you can also have the Language Certificate filled out by other recognized language institutes or schools that offer language assessment tests and have an official stamp for identification. However, you are likely to be charged more at commercial language schools compared to the Studium Generale.

      In case that all appointments offered by the Studium Generale are booked, check with the German American Insitute (DAI) Heidelberg. There are often appointments available there.

      You can submit a current TOEFL, IELTS or other recognized certificate for English instead of the Language Certificate.

    • TOEFL (for English)

      The TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the most widely accepted proof of language proficiency in North America and Asia, but is also usually recognized as proof for English language proficiency worldwide. The abbreviation iBT stands for internet-based TOEFL, since the test is administered through a web-based system in certified testing centers all over the world several times a month. The test focuses mostly on language skills in the academic field. Reading and listening comprehension as well as writing and verbal skills are evaluated, On the official TOEFL website, you can register online and by credit card payment and read about the testing process. The German American Institute (DAI) Heidelberg also offers preparatory materials. There are also preparatory courses available at the Studium Generale in Mannheim.

      Tips for the TOEFL test:

      • Like the IELTS test, the TOEFL is very expensive. At present, the fee is about USD 250. If you have limited funds available, consider applying exclusively for partner universities that accept the Language Certificate.
      • You are not bound to take the test in the testing center in Mannheim. Test appointments in other cities or even abroad are available to you, as well. Yet, we recommend making an appointment early on!
      • It can take six to ten weeks for you or us to receive the original TOEFL score report. We strongly advise you to make an appointment for the TOEFL test as early on as possible, as some test centers are fully booked months in advance.
      • How do you get your TOEFL score report? There are three options, listed in the following table:

      Official Score Report

      If you designate the International Office as recipient through the Institutional Code 7261, this purple document will be sent there (please be aware that the University of Mannheim has multiple Institutional Codes).

      The advantage of this procedure is that four original copies of your official score report will be sent directly to the International Office without any additional costs. Additional fees apply when ordering copies of the official TOEFL score report at a later point in time.

      Delivery time: six to ten weeks

      The International Office will let you know as soon as your score reports have arrived, so you can pick them up.

      You can then submit one of the Official Score Reports for your application.

      Examinee Score Report

      If you do not indicate the University of Mannheim as recipient, this green document will be sent to your own address.

      Disadvantage: You will only receive one original copy of the report.

      Delivery time: six to ten weeks

      You can submit the Examinee Score Report for your application.

      Test Taker Score Report

      This is a PDF document that can be downloaded online eight to ten days after the completion of the test.

      If you have not received your Official or Examinee Score Report by the application deadline, you can submit the PDFTest Taker Score Report instead.

      Important: In this case, you will have to submit your Official or Examinee Score Report as soon as you have it (by uploading it to the Mobility-Online platform). If you do not submit one of these reports in addition to theTest Taker Score Report, your application might be rejected by the host university.

      Please note:

      Most partner universities accept a TOEFL with a score of at least 80 from 120 points. You should score at least 20 points in each category. Some partner universities require a higher minimum score. Further information can be found at the respective university listed in our database of partner universities.

    • IELTS Academic (for English)

      Unlike the TOEFL, the IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System) is more common for universities in the Commonwealth. For example, all universities in Australia and New Zealand accept the IELTS. However, many institutions accept both tests. The fee is about the same as for the TOEFL, i.e. around USD 250. If you have limited funds available, consider applying exclusively for partner universities that accept the Language Certificate.

      The IELTS has four sections (reading and listening comprehension, as well as verbal and written skills) and assesses above all practical knowledge of English as is needed for work, studying and everyday life. As opposed to the TOEFL, which takes place entirely online, there is an examiner present for the oral part of the IELTS test. We recommend registering for the IELTS early on, as test appointments are often fully booked in advance and evaluation and scoring take some time. Further information on registering and preparing for the test can be found on the websites of the British Council in Berlin and the online IELTS preparation course. The German American Institute (DAI) Heidelberg also offers preparatory materials.

       

      Most partner universities accept an IELTS Academic with a total score of at least 6.5. You should score at least 6.0 points in each category. Some partner universities require a higher total score. Further information can be found in the database of partner universities.

    • Cambridge ESOL Examinations (for English)

      The Cambridge certificate (Certificate in Advanced English, Certificate of Proficiency in English) is widely accepted instead of the Language Certificate at European partner universities. Partner universities overseas, however, rarely accept the Cambridge certificate.

    • Other accepted proofs of language proficiency (for French, Spanish, Italian)

      Provided that you have reached the respective required level of language proficiency and the test is no longer than two years ago, the following language tests can be submitted instead of a Language Certificate. All tests can be aligned with the levels of the European Framework of Reference for Languages. The International Office is happy to advise you on any questions regarding the tests.

      French

      DELF (Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française)

      DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française)

      TCF (Test de la Connaissance du Français)

      TEF (Test d’Évaluation de Français)

      Tip: Pursuant to an agreement by the German and French governments dated November 4, 1988, we also accept the certificate given to students who have reached a certain level of language proficiency, together with their German graduation diploma (Abitur). To be accepted for the application, the certificate or the Abitur diploma have to indicate the level reached according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages. Please submit the certificate and your Abitur diploma. An example of this kind of certificate can be found on the website of Campus France (in German) in the section “Studium in Frankreich / Beglaubigung akademischer Zeugnisse” in the table listing Abitur diplomas (“Bescheinigung Französisch als LK”/”Bescheinigung Bayern Französisch auf erhöhtem Niveau”).

       

      Spanish

      DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera)

      SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española)

       

      Italian

      CELI (Certificado di Conoscenza della Lingua Italiana)

      CILS (Certificato d' Italiano como Lingua Straniera)

       

    • Further alternatives (for all languages)

      In addition to the proofs of language proficiency listed above, other language certificates based on the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages that were obtained through a specific language test no longer than two years ago can be submitted as an alternative to the Language Certificate. The level of the Framework reached by the applicant must be indicated clearly. Examples: UniCert®, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board (LCCI) Tests, telc.

      Please note: A mere confirmation of participation in a language test does not suffice!

      The certificate has to indicate that you have achieved a level, not that you took the test. To be understood and accepted by our international partner universities, the document has to be written in English (or in the country’s official language for non-English programs, for example in French).

      Other alternatives will NOT be accepted. Every year, more then 1,500 students apply for the exchange programs offered by the University of Mannheim. In order to be able to process these applications fairly and swiftly, we need to be able to easily compare the applicants’ language skills. Only the alternatives listed above fulfill this requirement. Furthermore, the international partner universities demand that certain criteria regarding the proof of language proficiency are met.

      Therefore, confirmations of the participation in language courses, scores in the Abitur, international school or university diplomas, GMAT scores, certificates of stays abroad etc. can not be accepted. Thank you for your understanding.