In September 2015, Germany witnessed an unanticipated migration of refugees toward the European Union. The government established an open-border policy that meant Germany would harbor all refugee arrivals. In large, the civil society joined efforts to create a so-called Willkommenskultur (welcome culture) during the “summer of welcome.” This chapter will introduce the project “Start ins Deutsche” (German language kick-off) of Goethe University Frankfurt as an ambitious example of civil society initiatives. Start ins Deutsche was founded on the premise of “integration by language learning.” Within Start ins Deutsche, university students volunteer to teach German to refugees. In many cases these refugees have a realistic perspective to enroll into fulltime studies at Goethe University at a later stage to pursue academic degrees. In this chapter, the authors outline the project and its main aims. Based on this, the authors thereafter analyze evaluation data about Start ins Deutsche with regard to the perceptions of German language teachers and their language learners, respectively. The evaluation data of Start ins Deutsche reveal that the German language teachers interpret their role beyond being just teachers, while the learners appreciate the effort of their teachers in every aspect. Hence, the authors believe the project serves as a best-practice example for a civil society project toward establishing a Willkommenskultur in Germany.

DOI: 10.1108/S2055-364120180000015008
ISSN: 2055-3641
ISBN: 9781787148000, 9781787147997