The Guiding Principles of the Central Institute for Languages and Transferable Skills (ZESS)

The Central Institute for Languages and Transferable Skills (ZESS) is committed to providing the students of Georg-August-University of Göttingen with the necessary skill set and capacity for growth by utilizing an interdisciplinary approach in the teaching of higher-education level foreign languages, general transferable skills and EDV-supported academic work (ZESS-IT).

In so doing, ZESS places an emphasis on modern, practice-oriented and active-learning didactics and methods to enable both the acquisition and utilization of skills in their own area of study. The ZESS curriculum consists of a diverse range of general transferable skills, through which ZESS seeks to drive students to fulfil their growth potential and mobility on a cognitive, social and personal level, as well as in their acquisition of foreign language skills, while contributing to their character development.
ZESS aims to support students in their studies, inspire them to cultivate an interest for life-long learning and equip them with the necessary skills for an academic and/or highly-skilled occupation, whether at the university or otherwise.

The modules offered at ZESS correspond to the four, inter-related skill fields that comprise the Göttinger Transferable Skill Concept: Personal, Social, Problem-Solving and Language Skills. The concept also includes functional character development and practical foreign language skills.

Through the foreign language department at ZESS, students have the opportunity to choose from 13 foreign languages that - subject to the foreign language in question - are each offered from beginner's to advanced level and adhere to both the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) and UNIcert. Students are trained in each of the four aspects of language skill (listening and reading comprehension, oral and writing skills) and cover material that is both specific to academia and intercultural in nature. A special emphasis is placed on activity-oriented learning in teaching and assessment, as well as the use of modern technology in various guises (lessons that require physical attendance, blended learning and supervised independent learning).


In the area of general transferable skills, ZESS offers integrative courses that complement each other. These include, for example, orientation to the working world, leadership skills, communication skills, media skills, social skills and knowledge and personal awareness skills. Aside from knowledge transfer, stress is placed on enhancing students' abilities to reflect and think independently, as well as establishing the link between the acquired knowledge and the 'real' working world. Through cooperative projects with external parties, students gain an insight into the working world that awaits them after their studies. They have the chance to improve both their specialized and holistic skills, and learn to be responsible adults.


Through ZESS-IT, students become competent in various computer programmes that are relevant for university, academic work and academic career fields. Students work individually and in teams to build their understanding of how to efficiently and productively use the various programmes.

In addition to a diverse range of courses, ZESS also offers various certificate programmes that support students in their learning and their specialization in a specific area of interest, and are useful for job applications and helping students ease into their chosen career.


ZESS hopes to complement and bolster students' core curriculum through its wide range of transferable skill courses and is glad to support the various faculties in their development and execution of subject-specific courses, e.g. through a range of (semi-) integrated transferable skill courses or faculty-specific language courses. ZESS courses are subject to constant examination for improvement and to meet the demands of students. In so doing, ZESS works in co-operation with partners both in and outside of the university.