Improving your German
Whether in everyday life, with a language partner, or at home on the computer: there are many ways to improve your German. The best options at a glance.
Anyone living in Germany will learn German almost automatically. Learning German is of course quickest and easiest when you are in the country. All that you need to do is keep your eyes and ears open. A good idea is to look for a room in a student residence or in shared accommodation with German housemates. When you cook or socialise together, you will learn the language without even noticing. You can also listen to the radio, watch television or read the newspaper to improve your German. This will help you memorise new words and expressions more quickly. By staying open and inquisitive your German will quickly advance.
Tandem language partners
If you want to improve your language skills and get to know new people, then tandem language learning is just the thing for you. This is when two partners who want to learn each other's native language get together. You don't have to analyse grammar or fill in the blanks, you can just have a chat. One hour in one language before switching to the other, to allow both tandem partners to benefit. You can arrange to cook together, go to a café or a walk through the city. This lets you learn another language and you get to know other people and learn about a country's culture.
How to find a tandem partner
A number of organisations provide tandem partners. These include the student unions, the International Office and language centres at the universities. The Ruhr University Bochum, for example, has a range of suggestions and useful activities for learning a language in a tandem.
Many students also decide to participate in a language course at a language school, university or a Goethe-Institut. These let you expand your German skills systematically, with an instructor and based on specific goals. Language courses often involve a charge. The language centres at German universities hold language courses. They also offer intensive courses during the semester breaks. These courses let you learn a lot in just a few weeks as well as allowing you to socialise with fellow students to familiarise yourself with the country and people. The Goethe-Institut also offers a range of German courses depending on the individual area that you would like to focus on.
How to find a language course
The "Fachverband für Deutsch als Fremdsprache" database lists German courses at numerous institutions and language schools. Here, you can choose from a wide range of courses listed according to federal states and cities.
There is also a range of options for people who prefer to learn independently. Whether this takes place as traditional private study, in a university language centre or using various media, especially the Internet, is up to you. The Deutsche Welle has set up a comprehensive online portal for learning German. This includes a variety of different formats, from traditional audio and reading texts through to multimedia clips. The Goethe-Institut also has well-established online offers. There are interactive educational games, expert chats or the option of finding online learning partners. Apart from these free offers, fee-based offers are also available, such as the Deutsch-Uni Online. This provides fee-based online modules, including technical support, forums, chat and an electronic translation tool.
How good is my German?
The Internet provides a range of opportunities for testing your German skills, such as on the Goethe-Institut's website. The Common European Framework of Reference provides more detailed information on the different levels.