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Founded 1951
Founder Government of Germany
Type Cultural institution
Area served
Product German cultural and language education
Key people
Prof. Dr. h.c. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann (President), Johannes Ebert (Secretary General), Dr. Bruno Gross (Business Director)
Slogan Sprache. Kultur. Deutschland. (Language. Culture. Germany.)
Goethe Institut Kuala Lumpur
Goethe-Institut, Prague
Goethe Institut Oslo
The Goethe-Institut Philippinen in Makati City, Philippines.
Library of the Goethe-Institut Philippines

The Goethe-Institut (GI) (German: ; English: Goethe Institute) is a non-profit German cultural association operational worldwide with 159 institutes, promoting the study of the German language abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange and relations.

The Goethe-Institut fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on German culture, society and politics. This includes the exchange of films, music, theatre, and literature. Goethe cultural societies, reading rooms, and exam and language centers have played a role in the cultural and educational policies of Germany for more than 60 years.[1]

It is named after German poet and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The Goethe-Institut e.V. is autonomous 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.


  • History 1
  • Organization 2
  • Locations by country 3
  • Online 4
  • Exams 5
  • Awards given 6
    • Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize 6.1
    • Goethe Medal 6.2
  • Recognition 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


  • 1951: The Goethe-Institut was founded as successor to the German Academy (Deutsche Akademie/DA), which was founded in 1925. Its first task was to provide further training for foreign German teachers in Germany.
  • 1953: The first language courses run by the Goethe-Institut began in Bad Reichenhall. Due to growing demand, new centres of learning were opened in Murnau and Kochel, the focus of selection being on towns which were small and idyllic and which showed post-war Germany at its best. Lessons were taught from the first textbook developed by the Goethe-Institut, the now legendary "Schulz-Griesbach".
  • 1953-55: The first foreign lectureships of what was the German Academy were taken on by the Goethe-Institut. Responsibilities include German tuition, teacher training and providing a program of cultural events to accompany courses.
  • 1959-60: On the initiative of the head of the arts sector of the Foreign Office, Dieter Sattler, the Goethe-Institut gradually took over all of the German cultural institutes abroad.
  • 1968: Influenced by the student revolts of the late 1960s the Goethe-Institut readjusted its program of cultural events to include socio-political topics and avant-garde art.
  • 1970: Acting on behalf of the Foreign Office, Ralf Dahrendorf developed his "guiding principles for foreign cultural policy". Cultural work involving dialog and partnership was declared the third pillar of German foreign policy. During the Willy Brandt era, the concept of "extended culture" formed the basis of activities at the Goethe-Institut.
  • 1976: The Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut signed a general agreement governing the status of the Goethe-Institut, henceforth an independent cultural organization.
  • 1980: A new concept regarding the location of institutes within Germany was drawn up. Places of instruction in small towns, mostly in Bavaria, were replaced by institutes in cities and university towns.
  • 1989/90: The fall of the Berlin Wall marked a turning point for the Goethe-Institut. Its activities in the 1990s were centred on Eastern Europe. Numerous new institutes were set up as a result.
  • 2001: The Goethe-Institut merges with Inter Nationes.
  • 2004: The Goethe-Institut established the first Western information centre in Pyongyang, North Korea (closed in 2009).[2] The Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes also reverted to its original and official name, Goethe-Institut (GI).
  • 2005: The Goethe-Institut was honored with the Prince-of-Asturias Prize of Spain.
  • 2007: For the first time in more than ten years, the German parliament increased the funds of the Goethe-Institut.
  • 2010: Bruno Bozzetto created a new Goethe-Institut film named "Va Bene".
  • 2014: A Myanmar Goethe-Institut opens


Goethe Institut headquarters, Munich

The Goethe-Institut is mainly financed by the national government of Germany, and has around 3,000 employees and an overall budget of approximately 366 million euros at its disposal, more than half of which is generated from language course tuition and examination fees. The Goethe-Institut offers scholarships, including tuition waiver, to students from foreign countries, who want to become teachers of German. One of the selection criteria for these scholarships is social or financial need.

The Goethe-Institut has its headquarters in Munich. Its president is Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, the General Secretary Johannes Ebert; Financial Manager Dr. Bruno Gross.

Locations by country

Goethe Institut located on Tonalá Street in Colonia Roma in Mexico City
  • In Ghana, Togo and Cameroon, the Goethe-Institut opens its first African branches in 1961.[3]
  • In Bangladesh, the Goethe-Institut opened at Gladstone House, 80 Motijheel Commercial Area in Dhaka in 1961. The institut was relocated into at present premises in Dhanmondi (House No. 23, Road No. 02) in 1967 .[4]
  • In Lebanon ,the Goethe-Institut operates in Rue Gemmayze (one of Beirut's most renowned streets),facing Collège du Sacré Cœur, with a remarkable number of students.
  • In Iran, the Goethe-Institut opened in Tehran in 1958, but was forced to close in 1981 in a diplomatic row between the host country and Germany; the institut reopened under the German embassy in Tehran as a "point for dialogue."
  • In [5]
  • The Instituts in India are called Max Müller Bhavans, in honour of the German philologist and Indologist.
  • In Indonesia, there are two Goethe-Institut: in Jakarta and Bandung, and a Goethe-Zentrum in Surabaya.
  • In the Philippines, a Goethe-Institut is currently located at Makati City where it was moved from its former location in Quezon City.
  • In the US, there are several Goethe-Instituts including the Goethe-Institut, New York.
  • In Britain the Goethe-Institut has a flagship presence in London's Kensington area.


The Goethe-Institut offers e-learning courses as well.[6]


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 (CEFL), the standard for European language testing. There is also one exam, the Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom, which is at a higher level than the highest CEFL level.[7] Below is a table of the basic Goethe-Institut exams as they fit into the scheme:[8]

CEFL level Goethe-Institut exam Instructional hours (45 minutes) needed
C2 Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom 1000
C1 Goethe-Zertifikat C1, Prüfung Wirtschaftsdeutsch 800 - 1000 (both)
B2 Zertifikat Deutsch für den Beruf, Goethe-Zertifikat B2 600 - 800
B1 Goethe-Zertifikat B1 350 - 650
A2 Start Deutsch 2 200 - 350
A1 Start Deutsch 1 80 - 200

In 2000, the Goethe-Institut 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 other countries.

Awards given

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize

Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize is an annual literary prize honoring an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year.[9] The translator of the winning translation receives $10,000 and a stay at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (LCB).[9] The prize was established in 1996 and is administered by the Goethe-Institut, Chicago, and is funded by the German government.[9]

Prize recipients have included:

Goethe Medal

Once a year, the Goethe-Institut awards the Goethe Medal, an official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. It honours foreign personalities who have performed outstanding service for the German language and international cultural relations. The Goethe Medal was established by the executive committee of the Goethe-Institut in 1954 and acknowledged as an official decoration by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1975.


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 achievements in communications and the humanities.

In 2007, it received a special Konrad Duden Prize for its work in the field of German language.[16]

See also


  1. ^ Goethe-Institut looks back on 60 years of cultural exchange, 29 August 2011, Deutsche Welle, accessed 9 May 2012.
  2. ^ Goethe-Institut to close center in North Korea on censorship claim , 26 November 2009, Deutsche Welle, accessed 9 May 2012.
  3. ^ [2] Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Goethe-Institut to start Tiruchi centre next year".  
  6. ^ John George. "Deutsche Sprache - Goethe-Institut". Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  7. ^ "Goethe-Institut launches Tiruchi Centre".  
  8. ^ "Deutschprüfungen - Unsere Prüfungen - Goethe-Institut". Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  9. ^ a b c Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, official site.
  10. ^ "Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize 2011". WBEZ. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Chad W. Post (20 May 2011). "2011 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize". Three Percent (Rochester University). Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize 2012". WBEZ. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize 2013". Goethe Institut. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize 2014". Goethe Institut. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "Catherine Schelbert, Prize Recipient 2015". Goethe Institut. May 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015. 
  16. ^ 06.03.2007: Goethe-Institut erhält Konrad-Duden-Sonderpreis (German)

External links

  • Official Goethe-Institut web site (in German and English)
  • Yearbook App 2013 (in German)
    • List of locations from the Goethe-Institut web site (in German and English)
    • Learning German with the Goethe-Institut
    • Learning German in Germany – German courses and exams - Goethe-Institut in Germany
  • TestDaF homepage
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