“Sprechen Sie Englisch?”

I studied German for a semester at university (more than 4 years ago). However, it has never crossed my mind that I’ll probably have to pick it up again. Now that we’re living in Germany, how could we not learn German? I’ve heard of people who live and work here and think that it’s unnecessary to learn the language. Frankfurt is very international and lots of people speak English, but doesn’t one feel embarrassed for always asking ‘Sprechen Sie Englisch?’ Well, I do because if I choose to live in a non-English speaking country I shouldn’t be bitching about how my daily life is inconvenienced by the fact that I don’t speak the lingo.

For those new to Frankfurt, there are tonnes of German courses available depending on your budget. Here’s a few which people recommended (but there are lots on the internet!):

  1. Goethe Institute: This is by far the most prestigious and expensive school. Many people claim that the teachers are brilliant, and the teaching methods are effective. The school also organises cultural activities and trips for students to fully immerse themselves in Germany. Unless you are willing to spend more than 1000Euro a month for a course, forget about this place.
  2. A-Viva: Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparklesrecommended this place. She studies both Chinese and German there and seems to really like the place. If anyone is interested in finding out more about this school, why not check out Charlotte’s blog or maybe even contact her (via her blog)? I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to help.
  3. Inlingua: This was recommended by a few Toytowners (ToytownGermany). The service seems great and affordable. People say that the school is very professional.
  4. Zentrum: I came across this school whilst we were apartment hunting. We nearly put in an offer for the apartment given that a language school was literally just opposite it. Again, some Toytowners really like the atmosphere at the school (friendly crowd) and since the German courses are partly subsidized by the Council of Frankfurt and the County of Hessen, I would say the fees are reasonable.
  5. VHS: The VHS has received mixed responses from people I know. Some swear by it, and some had very bad experiences. It is however the most affordable place to learn German if cost is the determining factor. It’s only 235 Euros for 25 lessons (each 3 hours long). Ok, not everyone earns what high-flying bankers earn.

There are just too many schools to choose from in Frankfurt. I’ve decided to do some self-study before seeking ‘professional help’ as I don’t want to start from the beginning. It’s possible to take a placement test to determine the level which you’re able to start with. However it has been a while since I last studied German so I’ve got myself a textbook (with 2 CDs) and a workbook to help refresh my memory. I’ll also be getting the class CDs so that I can do the exercises in the textbook.

I really enjoy learning from this textbook. It’s also a BONUS to find supplementary materials to study on their website. Some people might not like to use textbooks because they only want to speak the language without being drilled with grammar rules. Well, do what is best for you. I personally like to know the rules and understand what I’m studying rather than repeat standard sentences

To reinforce what I’ve learnt (and to make things more fun!), I’ve also got an app on my iPad – find out more here Living Language German. It is made up of 46 lessons and costs £19.99. I like it because it has games (memory games, flashcards, fill in the blanks exercises etc) to aid learning. I prefer to have a good mix of learning materials to reinforce what I’ve learnt rather than doing repetitive exercises from the same materials.

It takes a lot of determination to learn another language and I speak from experience (not that I’ve put in a lot of effort to learn Japanese!). Having learnt a foreign language, I am aware of what works for me, and what motivates me in my daily learning. I would recommend you (whatever language you choose to learn) to think of ways to make learning more fun for yourself.

Now, if you’re living in Germany and don’t speak a word of German, please can I encourage you to put in a little effort to immerse yourself in the culture? You’ll probably enjoy it more!

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9 thoughts on ““Sprechen Sie Englisch?”

  1. Pingback: “Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch” | Life in Frankfurt

  2. I love the living language app for iPad, also! And I got a German Made Simple book off Amazon which is excellent. I did VHS in Karlsruhe and was not impressed with the teaching method; all it really helped was my listening. I think tandem partners are a great way to learn. I’m going to explore classes with EduGlobal when I return next month

    1. Thanks Alex for recommending the book. I’ll have a look at it. It’s a shame you didn’t have a good experience at the VHS. A lady i know goes there and absolutely loves it. I reckon it depends on the teachers too. Some are horrible, i heard!

    1. My Japanese is near to non-existence, unfortunately. I’m nowhere near fluent. As for Mandarin, remember that meeting we had in Singapore with Sasaki san and I had to speak in Mandarin? That was soooo 恥ずかしかった!And I won’t say I speak any German yet, but I’m trying. But Xiao Dong, you’re fluent in the languages you learn (even in an office environment)!!! Be my source of inspiration! 🙂

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