Learning German

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One of my favourite ways to learn German is to listen to audio lessons while I do the cooking, laundry etc. I really like Michel Thomas‘ audio course, it’s a good supplement to a language school class (he does go quite fast). But he really helps build up your vocab and explains the German language in a clear way.

I have also started listening to Deutsche Welle Radio’s free online course which looks pretty good too and go up to B1 level. They have watching, listening and reading exercises and self tests.

There are lots of other on-line ways to learn German, especially the basics for example BBC or the Goethe-Institute offers free practise tests and exercises.

English Grammar for Students of German is my favourite grammar book, it explains everything in English terms first – I have no idea how the dative works for example in English, and then goes on to explain how it works in German. A very clear book and very useful in German class when I’m not really understanding the teacher. This is more of a companion book as in it explains the rules of grammar very clearly but doesn’t list verb tables etc.


German Integration Course


For expats staying for more than a year in Germany and looking to learn German, the state sponsored Integration course is great way to learn. It is heavily subsidized – you only pay 1.20 €  an hour for up to 600 hours for language classes + 60 hours for an Orientation class (where they explain legal system, schools, culture etc). If you start at the beginning level A1, 600 hours will take you to the end of B1. (If you start midway you may have extra hours which you can use for B1+, but you can not take any higher levels than B1+ with the integration course.)

Many of us have had positive experiences with both Tandem and Bibis language schools and would recommend them. They will also process your integration course application for you with the Foreigners Authority  which is much easier than doing it yourself. It should take about 2 weeks to get approved and you will then receive a Berechtigungsschien certificate which allows you to register for classes.

The integration course is available for both EU citizens and non EU, planning to stay for more than year in Germany (and can show some sort of proof). It doesn’t matter if you married to a German or not, or your or your husband’s salary. I don’t believe students are eligible though.

Regular attendance is required, if you are absent for more three days in a row you will need to provide a doctors note. It is allowed though to take breaks in-between courses (each course is 5 weeks).  As an extra incentive, if you complete up to the B1 level and take the B1 exam within two years, you will receive 50% of your money back. If you fail the B1 exam, you are allowed 300 extra hours to repeat the last course.


Bielefeld University Tandem Program

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I learnt about Bielefeld University’s Teutoburger World Tandem Program at the Welcome Center’s  international spouse and partner coffee morning (see post below). This is a great program if you are interested in having a conversational partner to speak German with. They recommend you are able to speak German at least around B1 level . The program is open to any native speaker of a foreign language who would like to be paired with a german student.  You also don’t have to live in Bielefeld to particpate as some students are happy to converse by Skype.