Deutsch Happen - Learning German Online
Learn German online with lessons, vocabulary, videos, and other interesting information about Germany.
More about learning German and visting Germany
Nothing beats learning German faster than actually travelling to Germany so that you can practice German yourself. The best way to learn any language is to immerse yourself in the country of that language. This way, day in and day out,
you are pushed to improve upon the local language of that country. So if you want to improve your German the fastest, you probably want to spend more time in Germany. Now if you have decided to start learning German, the next question is, at what level do you start at?
We answer that in the next section.
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages or CEFR
For the level that you can start learning German at, please note that Europe uses a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages or CEFR. Basically, the CEFR is a standard that is used to measure the level that you are at in a specific language. The levels are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. A1 is for beginners of a language while C2 means you have achieved mastery or proficieny of a language. Thus, when you learn German, you most likely fit into one of the levels specified from A1 to C2:
Source of image: CEFR table from Council of Europe
Once you decide what level you are, if you want to take an exam that provides a certification, you can take one of the DSH, the TestDaF or Goethe Institut exam, for levels A1 to C2. If you need help preparing for the exam, you can find a qualified tutor that can guide you through the questions for the exam and also the preparation for the exam.
Studying in Germany
As mentioned before, if you really want to improve your German, the best way is to spend time in Germany where you will be forced to use your German day in and day out. By immersing yourself in an environment where you need to use German, you will find that your German will improve the quickest. Still, if you are in Germany, you will need to learn from a trained native speaker. In addition, if you plan to pass one of the DSH, TestDaF or Goethe Institut exam, you want to find a tutor or teacher
that can teach you more formal German with proper grammar and structure so that you can pass the certification exam. The best of course is to find a personal teacher or tutor so that they can focus on you during the lesson. This way, you will improve the fastest and you can ask your teacher or tutor to correct your grammar and vocabulary as the lesson progresses.
If you cannot afford a personal teacher or tutor, then probably the next best option is to find a small group class. Just make sure that for the small group class, your teacher also focuses on proper grammar and sentence structure, so that you can pass any exams in the future should you decide to take the exam. Make sure that even in the small group class, the teacher can allocate time to help you improve. The point of taking a small group class is that while you cannot afford a personal teacher to teach you one on one, the teacher of a small group class can still give you some attention to improve your German from time to time.
If even a small group class is too expensive, then look for a larger class. Most universities in Germany will provide lessons for a larger class size. Make sure the material in the course offered at the university will also be applicable towards one of the DSH, the TestDaF or Goethe Institut exams, in case you want to pass those exams later. The downside of a university course is the class size may be larger and the teacher has very little time to focus on you to help you improve your German.
Cities to study German
You will find Germany is a very beautiful country with a deep history and a very beautiful culture. If you decide to visit Germany to study German, here are two recommended cities that you should visit to study German:
Berlin is a very historical city. Whereas Frankfurt is the center of finance in Germany, Berlin is the center of the federal government in Germany and Berlin also has a very rich history. You can see many sites and monuments left over after World War 2. And then you can also see many sites and monuments left over after the Cold War, including the Berlin Wall. Since Berlin was an important city during the Cold War, there is still grafitti left over from the Cold War all over the city. If you have a good grasp on
your German, maybe you'll be able to understand some of the grafitti!
You have probably heard the saying, "ein echter Berliner" which means a real Berliner. If you spend enough time in Berlin, you may even acquire the Berlin dialect of German. The Berlin dialect is the dialect of Lusatian-New Marchian German that is spoken in the city and the metropolitan area around Berlin. This dialect originated from a Brandenburgisch dialect. So visit Berlin not only to practice your German, but to acquire the Berlin dialect of German!
The opposite of Berlin is Frankfurt. While Berlin is the government capital of Germany, Frankfurt is the financial capital of Germany. In Frankfurt, all the major financial companies and banks are located. Unlike Berlin, Frankfurt has less famous monuments and historical sites but it's still a city with a very deep history. Frankfurt has the biggest international airport in Germany. In addition, the European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and Deutsche Bank headquarters are all located in Frankfurt.
In addition to many major financial institutions being located in Frankfurt, there are also many headquarters based in Frankfurt. Thus, over the years, Frankfurt has become the center of commerce in Germany. If you study German in Frankfurt, make sure to brush up your finance terminlogy since Frankfurt is a city of finance and commerce.
The dominant German dialect in Frankfurt is the Southern Hesse dialect, which is a Hessian dialect. So if you spend enough time in Frankfurt, you can get a good grasp of the Southern Hesse dialect. Compared to other dialects in Germany, the consonants are often softened in the Hessian dialect.