Out of the ‘Classroom’ ways to learn German

There usually are three kinds of people. Those who plan everything beforehand and pretty much hold on to the plans. Those who do not, whatsoever and leave it to the ‘gods’. And those who transit between the two cases. While I plan a lot of things, although not to the ‘German detail’, there are quite a few things I just do not. Or rather, let the time decide on my behalf. As it turns out, it works sometimes and for obvious reasons, sometimes, it doesn’t. I did not think twice before applying to an international master’s program in Germany. I did it, got admitted and then the question eventually arrived. Although quite late, it more or less punched right on the face. How are you planning to survive Germany without German? The brave me said: we’ll make it through, stop panicking. While the sensible and objective me reminded me of the seriousness of the situation and also reminded of the task in question was to learn a language. Of all, German.

Although my course was in English, there is no challenging the fact that in order for one to keep afloat, knowing the local language is indispensable. The blank stares do not work for too long you see? Or, at some point, you have to let go off your dictionary application to check for the allergic ingredients in your groceries.

There is no overseeing the boon the classroom German lessons have been. Nevertheless, as a student, it’s quite often the case that you can’t afford either of the two things: Money and time. And, sometimes, to make things worse, both. When we face a situation of the sorts, we have two options. 1. Whine about things you lack and daydream of how the world would turn around had you had all these things and 2. Make things happen. No matter what. In my opinion, true intention and perseverance is all it takes for you to get anywhere you want. Let’s stall the philosophy and cut to the chase right away.

Internet and intention

I’m of the opinion that if you have got internet and the intention to learn something, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. There literally are a thousand ways to get you home. Online courses are a big-time favorite of mine. These days, with the ever-expanding internet, there are handsome choices available. If you are looking for a structured online course, websites like lingoda offer a great deal. There are courses depending on your level and also, you can get a valid certificate after completion. Although the certified courses are as expensive as the intensive courses, the selling point is the flexibility. Not to forget, the free courses offered on Deutsche Welle are of great quality and structured and interesting as well. So, all that you pay is your time.

Of course, YouTube also has some nice lessons from various teachers who do a great job. My favorite is “learn Deutsch mit Anja”. Although they are quite helpful, the problem lies in them not being structured. You may have to figure out a way to get through them. I tried following the specific playlists according to the level and also at times when I had a particular grammar issue, they helped. Also, with Netflix eating up our leisure time, changing the subtitles or the audio to German turns out to be a win-win. Who doesn’t like win-wins?

The mobile applications such as Duolingo, Babbel, Memrise, and others (that, I have no idea of) help in improving our vocabulary. As they can be accessed anytime and keep reminding us to keep learning, our vocab skyrockets if we bend to the notifications we receive. A productive distraction is not such a bad thing. Isn’t it?

Hangout

Neither can you sit for straight hours in a classroom nor in front of a computer browsing lessons. You have to get out to the real world to learn how the real world interacts. My experience after living for more than 2 years now is that the people here are really friendly and welcoming. The only barrier, in my opinion, is to get out of the comfort zone in the beginning. Being an Indian, it was pretty difficult for the first few months as there was absolutely no way I could get out of my ‘Indian group’ as there were million mutual things to do and to relate to. But, it takes conscious efforts to get out of the group and hang out with the local people. The best way to do it is to find an activity or sports group and then swiftly slide into it.  Stuttgart being a city filled with expats, some groups regularly have a ‘’Sprachcafe” where you meet up with an intention to practice speaking with others.

Immerse

If you are planning a long-term stay in Germany. Then, it is imperative to know the language with the culture. So, the only way to do that is to immerse. Let go off your virtual interaction bubble you have created for yourself. There are several ways and levels at which you can begin. The easiest and the fun way are the parties. You can easily sneak into one of those house parties that are not so rare to find. In the beginning, especially if you are new to German, you will not understand anything, but just go with the flow and you will slowly start understanding when coupled with some effort with vocabulary

Another classic way of immersing is by staying with a German family. Although I have not experienced this myself, I have seen a few of my friends do it and have found a significant success. You not only learn the local way of living, if you are lucky, you are also bound to find a home away from home. If living with a family sounds offbeat to you, a Wohngemeinschaft or as it is usually called, a WG, might have interesting propositions to you.

Although a lot of the above-mentioned ways might sound routine meddling, if learning German is what you want and your intentions are concrete, these tips will be of help. But, without love for the language, you can’t go as far as you otherwise would. If there are any other tips that have worked for you, don’t forget to leave them on the comments below. Of what help is knowledge when it doesn’t help another? Right?

 

Saleem

Saleem Javed is a master’s student at the University of Stuttgart doing an International course. An engineer by education and profession, who writes to make sure he doesn’t stack it all up there. Strongly believes in the quote “If you want to be remembered, do something worth writing or write something worth reading”. Plays safe, picks the latter!

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