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German language schools in Germany

 Language Learning Forum : Immersion, Schools & Certificates Post Reply
redsky
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 Message 1 of 8
24 January 2013 at 8:02am | IP Logged 
I have searched this question and have found no good answer, so I pose it for the first time.

I managed to get a three-week vacation (!) for December of 2013. My idea is to spend these 3 weeks learning German in Germany. Currently my German level is about A2, and I studying alone would like/expect to be at B2 by December. I have booked air tickets to Zürich (my favorite city in this planet), from which I will have easy access to the whole Germany and Austria.

So I have pretty much found two options: Goethe Institut, naturally, in many cities in Germany (I would maybe choose Göttingen, or Bremen, for no good reason) and Apple Languages (I probably would choose Münster -- people seen friendly and nice, based on what I've see in the Easy German youtube videos). The prices are similar, about 400-500 euros per week with half board pension.

Cutting to the chase: any of you know of any more interesting/better programs than these two? Also, based on your knowledge of Germany (I just know Freiburg and München) where would be a good place to spend three weeks learning German and speaking with strangers? More context: I am a 32-year old professional, male, living in USA and English is my second language.

Edited by Fasulye on 28 January 2013 at 9:53am

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Majka
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 Message 2 of 8
24 January 2013 at 10:25am | IP Logged 
I have no personal experience with German in Germany, but here are few notes based on my experience with English in UK when I was your age:

Ask how the courses are set up. Is there possibility to switch to another group? Often, you get a test and then get sorted to a group. After few days, you may find that the fit isn't ideal. In my case, the school was full of teens, looking for good time and trying to avoid learning at all costs.
At the same note, ask how old are the students usually.

Is there a library or audio lab you can use for free in your free time? This would probably make the decision for me.

The half board pension - is it in a host family? Another point which could decide for me. A good fit can make or break the stay. You would learn more from the family than from the course, given an opportunity.
Do you have any contacts in Germany? Try even asking here. I was able to find the person I stayed in the UK on my own, ask to be placed there and it was the best decision I have ever made. We had the same hobbies with the lady, she included me in her private meetings with friends, let me shadow her when running errands. Nothing can beat this.

If I ever decide to do something similar again, I would skip the course and go for private tutoring. I mean I would look for living in a host family, take less lessons but with higher quality. Instead of spending a day or a half of the day in a classroom, I would take 1 or 2 hours every day or every other day and the rest I would spend with self study. Usually, this can be organized through the school as well.

Edited by Majka on 24 January 2013 at 10:27am

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Luso
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 Message 3 of 8
25 January 2013 at 3:14am | IP Logged 
I don't have alternative programs to indicate. I do, however, have criteria to help you choose:

- Life in small German cities is very cheap, when you compare it to the standard of living; even big cities are considerably cheaper than, say, Paris or London, but in a small city you really get your money's worth. Maybe you'll have accomodation included, but it's always a factor to consider.

- Due to accent purposes, and should you choose the Goethe-Institut, Göttingen would be a good bet, being in a region with a good standard of German. By the same reason, some regions with strong local dialects are not so good, if you want to practice on the streets.

- As far as teachers go, anything can happen: a colleague of mine from the Lisbon Goethe took a Summer course in Germany... and ended up with the same teacher we had here (he flies back to Germany to teach Summer courses).
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Cavesa
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 Message 4 of 8
26 January 2013 at 2:59am | IP Logged 
I spent two weeks in Berlin last year, studying at GLS. I found it as great as you can hope for when choosing
a language school.

Of course, you won't avoid some disadvantages of a course in comparison with self-teaching but GLS does
quite the best possible and I believe it is cheaper than Goethe.

They have all levels of courses and make sure you either get to the right one right away or you can change
the course at any time. And every friday, you write a test which may be another opportunity to change level, if
needed.

It is quite a large school which really allows a lot of groups all over the scale. They have standard groups of
about ten people but you can buy additinal lessons in small groups of four and individual lessons as well.

I was taught by two teachers. One was absolutely awesome, the other was probably better for more
advanced groups than us. From what I heard from other students, most teachers are very good.

They offer accomodations either in their buildings or in German families. And they have a wonderful garden
where most students spend their breaks together.

Once a week and during the weekends, they organise various activities for those interested. Of course, all in
German.

As you are older, no offence meant, I'd recommend going outside the main summer vacations when the
school, and probably most language schools, are filled with both highschool and university students. Of
course, if you don't mind, pay no attention to my warning. But those few older students in our group
sometimes seemed to feel a bit uncomfortable.

Berlin is a beautiful city worthy of spending a lot of time in. And you can easily go to other places by train from
there. And even a beginner like me had no trouble with people switching to English when I was asking for
directions, in a shop etc.

There are various students and those at higher levels seemed to use the language even outside the courses
together quite naturally.

So, I would really recommend this one:-)

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Cavesa
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 Message 5 of 8
26 January 2013 at 3:00am | IP Logged 
Ah December. That should be ideal. Some shools,dont know about GLS, have even lower prices at that part
of the year.
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songlines
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 Message 6 of 8
26 January 2013 at 4:55am | IP Logged 
A useful thread. Thanks for the recommendations so far, all!

Cavesa wrote:
I spent two weeks in Berlin last year, studying at GLS. I found it as great as you can hope for when
choosing a language school....


I assume this would be the
German Language School, Berlin?


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redsky
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 Message 7 of 8
26 January 2013 at 8:08am | IP Logged 
Thank you all for the comments, very useful suggestions.
Majka wrote:

If I ever decide to do something similar again, I would skip the course and go for
private tutoring. I mean I would look for living in a host family, take less lessons
but with higher quality.

Excellent thinking Majka, I will look into adding private lessons. I certainly learn
better alone, having 1:1 conversations.

Luso wrote:

- Due to accent purposes, and should you choose the Goethe-Institut, Göttingen would be
a good bet, being in a region with a good standard of German. By the same reason, some
regions with strong local dialects are not so good, if you want to practice on the
streets.

I am a huge nerd apparently, because just the thought of spending time in Göttingen
makes me very excited.

Cavesa wrote:
I spent two weeks in Berlin last year, studying at GLS. I found it as
great as you can hope for when choosing
a language school.

I have been reading about GLS and it sounds great, a cheaper alternative to Goethe
Institut. My only problem is... Berlin. Isn't it too much of a big city, where people
are always rushing?

To me the most important is to be among locals who are friendly and welcome foreigners
who try to speak their language. I will be talking a lot to strangers and hopefully
they will be nice. That's why I was thinking about college towns like Münster and
Tübingen, where I think people are friendlier and more easily approachable.

A friend of mine also said that people in Austria tend to be more approachable, which
doesn't correspond to my limited experience in Vienna, but maybe I was unlucky. Any
comments on that?
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Cavesa
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 Message 8 of 8
27 January 2013 at 5:55am | IP Logged 
Yes, Songlines, that's it. I used the short GLS cause it is easily googlable under
that.

Rushing people? I was the only idiot in obvious hurry in the morning(and running on
higher heels, probably to make sure I looked like an idiot), I really didn't feel so
much rush there. Actually less than in Prague. It is large city, so perhaps majority of
the rush gets quite spread all over the city. Of course, there are some critical areas,
and times of the day etc. And I was there during the summer, true.

Well, Austrians are told to be quite the opposite of friendly here. But it usually
depends on your luck, I guess. What I'd consider more important are the language
differences. They may be not as big as between German and Swiss German, but they are
there.

As I said, I had no trouble with Berliners I spoke with. Quite the opposite. And being
in a small town (and very likely smaller language school as well because of it) brings
more trouble than good, in my opinion. But if you like small towns, than it is
different of course.


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