We can’t dodge the most obvious fact that German is indeed a challenging language to learn. In his witty essay titled ‘The Awful German language.’, Mark Twain wrote about the trials and tribulations of learning the German language. The essay humorously highlights the frustration most native English speakers experience while trying to learn German. If you are a foreigner living in Germany and you are thinking of enrolling yourself in a language course, then this article will help you answer that question.
Should you learn German?
Let’s address the most important question first. Is it essential for foreigners living in Germany to learn German? The answer to this is both yes and no.
Most international companies in Germany, have English as their company language – which means communication and written work is done entirely in English. So foreigners working in these companies don’t really need to learn German. The German foreign population is also growing and reached a record high of 10.8 million with a growth of 5.8% in 2017. With increasing cultural influences from around the world, big German cities such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Cologne make it favourable for expats to live and work in Germany. It is easy to get around most of these German cities without knowing any German, as most Germans speak English or a smattering of English. For situations where you probably require German such as reading your rental agreement, legal papers, work contracts etc, there are expat services or a German friends who will be happy to help. You can get around not knowing German, but that would also limit you from truly living and integrating into Germany.
The importance of learning German
- Staying long-term: If you are planning on staying in Germany long-term through your work visa and if applying for German citizenship is also a part of your long-term plan, then it is not only important but also mandatory to learn German. One of the basic requirements, of applying for a German passport is a working knowledge of German (B1 level). This level would allow you to converse, read and write basic Deutsch.
- More German job opportunities: Another advantage of learning German is the additional language skill on your resume, which will help significantly increase your chances of job success if you want to apply to German companies.
- Mental benefits: Learning a new language is mentally beneficial for all of us and improves our cognitive function, memory and even decision making skill.
- Integrate into German society: But the most important reason to learn German is to be able to express and converse freely with the people of Germany. Integration in a society truly happens when you learn to speak the language of the people. Simple everyday experiences like shopping at the supermarket, ordering food at a restaurant, interacting with your neighbours are stress-free once you have learnt basic German.
The best way to learn German
The most conventional way to learn German would be to attend classes at your local German language schools. Apart from that, for those who do not have the luxury of time, there are options to explore such as apps and online classes. Let’s take a look at what best would fit into your daily schedule.
There are plenty of language schools in Germany that offer course German as a foreign language. You can find information about the nearest language school near you via a quick google search. Do check reviews before enrolling in any of the schools. Another option, to help refine your search for the perfect language school would be to check on any of the social networking site expat groups such as Facebook, Internations or Toytown Germany.Having a fellow expat share their experience with you will surely help you find the right school.
- Goethe-Institut Deutschland – Is one of the most recommended and sought after language schools in Germany and around the world. The reason being the level of excellence they maintain through their course material and teaching staff worldwide. Goethe is the brand that is well recognised for offering a comprehensive learning material to make learning German fun and easy. The only offside to studying at Goethe Institut is paying higher for their courses, as quality comes at a price. Their schools are located in most of the big German cities.
- Volkshochschule Germany – Volkshochschule Germany is a well-known community college with branches all over Germany. Every town in Germany usually has one school in their area. Each school offers 3 types of German language courses – intensive morning courses, intensive afternoon courses and evening courses held a few times a week. The evening courses are ideal for working professionals who work during the day. The advantage of studying in a Volkshochschule would be the discounted price of the courses.
Online classes & Mobile phone apps
If you’re more accustomed to learning at your own pace and comfort, then online courses are the way to go. Listed below are a few of the online German courses.
- Udemy – The online learning website has tons of German courses to explore at a small price.
- BBC Languages – A free resource online for you to practise some basic German.
- Duolingo – a free German learning app which makes learning on the go easy.
- Goethe-Institut – Apart from classes at their institute, they also offer online courses on their website.
- Babbel – has beginner and intermediate courses for a small price.
- Deutsche Welle – A great free resource online that has course material to cover beginners and advanced learners.
Ways to practice German tips and suggestions
You can find the best courses and teachers to teach you German, and you can even study hard via the apps and dictionary tools available online. But, the only real way of getting better at German would be to speak the language and use it every day. Find a native German who you can partner up with to practice your language. Volunteering with local German meet-up groups can also be a great ground to get more confident with your German. In other words, interact with the local Germans and practice till you’re perfect.