Learning German in Germany

2 Nov, 2012


Many people will argue that the best way to learn a foreign language is to
spend an appreciable amount of time living in the country. Germany offers
many possibilities for visitors to learn the
German language while immersing themselves in the culture.

Goethe Institut

The Goethe Institut is a non-profit German cultural association with
operations worldwide, including Germany. Like France’s Alliance Française,
the Goethe Institut offers extensive language courses. There are thirteen
different institutes in Germany, which offer a wide range of classes tailored
to an individual’s needs, budget and timeframe. Intensive two and four
week courses are offered in most major cities. Eight week courses are
available in university towns, such as Freiburg and Berlin. Other courses,
including German for Teachers, Business German and Superintensiv
courses, are offered in almost every location. All classes are forty-five
minutes long and meet Monday through Friday. If you wish to continue the
learning process in the evening as well as the weekend, there are organized
cultural and leisure programs. They include city tours, concerts, discos,
sports programs and day excursions. While you are free to find your own
accommodations, the Goethe Institut also offers students the option of
either private accommodations or guesthouse accommodations with either
single or double room occupancy. Pricing often depends on the city, the
program and the number of guests. Overall larger cities tend to be more
expensive while small towns seem to be more moderately priced. Expect to
pay anywhere from six hundred euros to three thousand euros, depending
on the courses and chosen accommodations.

Humboldt- Institut

A great alternative to the Goethe Institut is the Humboldt–Institut. Like the
Goethe Institut, Humboldt offers Intensive Courses as well as Business
German. In addition to these courses, they have available one-to-one
classes and TestDaF preparation for those who wish to prepare the
standardized TestDaF exam. Programs last as little as two weeks and can
go up to one year. Humboldt has locations all over Germany, with the most
famous locale being around Lake Constance. A great advantage of the
Institut is that they offer accommodations with host families. This gives the
student the opportunity to learn German in an authentic environment. Host
families are instructed to speak only German while they lodge students.
This is beneficial because in any language school there is always the
temptation to gravitate towards people who speak the same language, thus
significantly reducing the effectiveness of the courses. Having a host family
participates in the immersion process and therefore should produce better
results. If you are uncomfortable with staying with a host family, for one
reason or another, Humboldt also offers dorms, where students usually
have one roommate. Meal programs, leisure programs and airport
transportation are also available.

Do it on your own

There are many ways to learn German on your own in Germany. One of the
best ways, if you are still in school, is to look into summer jobs, such as
working on a farm or babysitting children. Brushing up on your German
before your departure will be helpful and there are many German language
courses offered at most universities and private language schools in your
home country. If you work for a multinational corporation, you may want to
look into expatriate programs that your company offers. These programs
are often very lucrative. Once you are in Germany, it is important to make
German friends and do your best to practice the language everyday.
Learning German is a question of practice; the more you practice, the
more your German will improve.

2 Nov, 2012