Babbel In Action

With Babbel, THW volunteers can prepare themselves for international assignments.






With 80,000 volunteers and helpers, the THW (Federal Agency for Technical Relief) is Germany’s official civil- and catastrophe-protection organization. The THW, founded on August 22, 1950, assists in civil and catastrophe protection for citizens at home and abroad. Particularly in international settings, language learning is of utmost importance for the THW. With Babbel, all THW volunteers can prepare themselves for service, either on an ongoing basis or on the way to their assignments.

The Challenge

Successful communication with local rescue services and civilians is essential on foreign assignments. “Smooth communication is often vital to the work of our emergency services,” says Klaus Buchmüller, THW’s Head of International Operations.

“Basic knowledge of the local language simplifies coordination on the ground, and supports quick communication in dangerous or exceptional situations.”

Klaus Buchmüller, THW’s Head of International Operations.


Disasters can require more than the emergency-service capabilities of regions or even entire countries can offer. That’s why it’s important to set up structures that allow international aid to arrive reliably and quickly, anywhere in the world. And knowledge of the local language is a key to better-networked international collaboration. However, in this field, a flexible language training solution is a must — one that isn’t limited by the fixed conditions of a traditional classroom-based course. As Buchmüller pointed out, this is the key advantage of Babbel: “With Babbel, we wanted to give our international emergency personnel an innovative tool that they would easily have at hand to broaden their language competencies. Because Babbel can also be used offline, it’s great to use en route or in ‘WiFi-free zones.’ And given the nature of disaster areas, this is very helpful.”

Why Babbel? 

“In generell, our volunteers love to use Babbel, also outside of their work,” Buchmüller says. Thanks to the course structure, all volunteers can learn flexibly. They begin their courses wherever their previous knowledge leaves off and are not bound to specific meeting times. Babbel’s elementary courses give beginners a great start on a basic understanding of the local language, while specialized business courses — on teamwork, or negotiation, for example — help advanced speakers hone their skills for the daily work routine. One volunteer says: “I still need a professional French translator at business meetings with our French-speaking partners, but I can already engage in small talk, and I understand most conversations through context. This gives me a different level of access to the partners — even those who have known me for a long time have noticed my (hopefully successful) efforts.”


The THW team is active in many countries, and uses Babbel to learn their many languages, which aids in collaboration in both the domestic and international fields. The flexible structure is especially well-suited to the volunteers’ varying work schedules.



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