Do you want to learn German while living (and working full-time) in Germany? Is it easier learning German in Germany or while you are in your home country. Read some of my tips on how I brush up my German skills while working full-time from home.
German is notoriously difficult language to master. You could live in Germany for several years, yet still have problems at times. For me, some days are good German days, some days my brain goes blank when I try to put together a sentence cohesively.
But learning German will make your life 100 folds easier in this country. Not just your social life, but your job prospects will also improve dramatically.
Remember, that learning German is the first step to paddle through the (sometimes) rough waters of German expat life.
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Here is what I do to brush up my German language skills in day to day life.
1. Listen to German Radio
Despite the shitty repeated pop music every few minutes, I find German radio to be a great tool for learning day to day German. It’s wonderful in the sense that you are forced to use your hearing abilities to understand spoken word and listen to different accents, dialects, and voices.
The only downside is that unlike on telly, there’s no body language or expressions of the actors or imagery to help you understand the context so you can easily miss the verbal queues.
This is why you can also…
2. Watch German Telly
German TV especially news and documentaries are really amazing ways to pick up some German while staying informed and educated. Most German news presenters, moderators or narrators use Hochdeutsch, so it’s relatively easier to understand if you already know some German.
If you are one of those expats who do not watch German TV shows or movies, I highly recommend giving them a chance. Some of them can be quite entertaining and you could brush up your German skills while entertaining yourself.
If German telly is really not your thing then you can always…
3. Rewatch Your Favourite Series/Movies in German
Let Netflix come to rescue! You can watch your favourite tv shows on Netflix in their German version. This is one of my favourite ways to learn new words and phrases.
I generally watch series or movies in the original version and then rewatch in German after a while. This way I already know what is being translated, and I pick up new German vocabulary.
The downside of this method is that it may not be efficient for those who don’t want to rewatch any content. The other downside is that not all content is dubbed in German with the highest standards.
Sometimes voice actors cannot do justice to the acting talents of the original version and it kinda sounds artificial and it’s hard to enjoy the content. But if you can overcome this, it’s a very effective way of learning German.
But you don’t want to be a couch potato for long periods of time. Then why not…
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4. Talk to the Germans
Well if you are in Germany, then why not learn it from the natives?! If you are in the uni, then it’s easier to make friends with the Germans. Just hang out with them, and try to speak as much German as you can.
At workplaces as well you can converse with your German colleagues and pick up some business German. If you have some challenges making friends in Germany, as many foreigners do, you can always find a German tandem partner.
There are several online platforms where you can easily register and find a tandem partner in your local area. Give it a go, and it’ll give you a really good start in sinking your feet in the German language, especially if you are a new arrival in Germany.
Now that you have some German friends to practice German with, it’s time to…
5. Get Yourself a German SO ‘Significant Other’
Well, why not! Germans are fun people to go out with. 🙂
You will not only learn German culture first hand through your SO, but they will also help you learn German in your every day to day life. But before heading out the door for your German boyfriend/girlfriend hunting be aware that they are not a substitute for a professionally trained German language trainer.
Related: Dummy’s Guide to Dating a German
Most native speakers do not know the grammatical rules of their own mother tongue.
So it’ll be a moot point to ask them for an explanation, or whether a sentence is Nominativ, Dativ, Akkusativ or Genitiv. Just consider them as a great source for learning colloquial German and leave the grammatical structures to the pros.
Which brings me to…
6. Enrol in a Language School
Most of the big or mid-sized German cities have language schools.
Generally, full-time German courses from A1- C2 last for nine to 12 months. Attending a language school is truly the best way of learning German as the courses are very neatly structured, and you work together with other students who have the same German skills as you.
When I attended my language school, we also had several interactive ways, games and evaluations almost every week. This really added to the fun in learning an otherwise difficult language.
In Germany, you can either attend private language schools or the classes hosted by Volkshochschule (VHS) or a high school for adults. VHS usually offer discounted rates for their courses.
If you are a student at a German uni, make sure to check out the courses offered there. Often unis offer free language courses with limited places which makes it very hard to get a place in them.
I got the best results when I combined professional German language training with all the other methods above. Including the German SO! 😉
So how did you learn German while living in Germany? Did you enrol in one of the intensive language courses or did you go DIY route? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.