Back in November/December, I enrolled in a 4-week language course in Berlin at the did deutsch-institut. I needed a formal setting to try and learn the German language, and in the end, I’m very glad that I took the course. During those four weeks, I was motivated to practice my German in and out of class. With occasional homework assignments, and a very public place for me to report back on my studies, learning German was a big goal. And one that I was happy to keep working at, as difficult as the language may seem.
Was the course successful, though? For that, we have to examine what my goals for learning German are…
Goal 1: To learn some German words & grammar
Listen, I know I’ve been in Germany for a long time now, and I really should have a much better understanding of the language. Life (and work) distracted me for far too long. So with my language course, the main goal was definitely to, you know—learn the language. To pick up new words, to gain a better understanding of the German grammar (ha!) and to have fun while doing it.
Four weeks wasn’t enough time, but it was enough to learn quite a few of the basics. Not just to get some working knowledge of how the grammar works (basically: it’s hella confusing), but also to be able to form my own sentences and my own short stories. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s definitely a start!
What’s the verdict? Success!
Goal 2: Feel more comfortable practicing German
I think the most difficult part about learning a new language (or just about anything for that matter), is often a fear of being wrong, of embarrassment or of failure. I’ve successfully managed to accomplish all three while living in Berlin, but with a daily language course, my fears dissipated with each new lesson. By the end, I was pretty confident in at least being able to successfully manage my way around immigration, grocery stores and basic conversations in German.
Since completing my introductory course, I definitely feel safe using some German words and phrases. I no longer feel awkward when going to a café, or the post office, and am able to get by in most situations. I know I still make mistakes, but hopefully less than before. And at least I don’t feel as bad about the mistakes that I do make, because I know I’ve at least tried.
What’s the verdict? Success!
Goal 3: Motivate myself to learn more
During my German language course, not only was I in class for four hours a day, but I was also doing quite a bit of self-study. The daily blogging kept me motivated because I was eager to show that I was actually learning some German, but I also often left class inspired—ready to practice in the real world. On the weekends and afternoons, I’d even open up duolingo.com for some extra practice. Now that the course is over, it’s a lot less often that I’m finding the energy or the motivation to keep up with daily practices. It also doesn’t help that I spent two weeks traveling around Israel this month.
But seeing myself less motivated, and knowing how motivated I was during my course, leads me to a logical conclusion: I must keep studying in a formal setting! Stay tuned for more information about how and what I’ll do to keep myself motivated to learn German.
What’s the verdict? Successful, I guess…
Four weeks of learning German in Berlin
Was it successful? I think so. For a full recap, and a review of my language school, visit this page on MyBerlinStory.com.
Okay, das war’s. Wir reden jetzt nur noch deutsch miteinander. Ha! :) Ich hänge dir einen deutschen Post an diesen Kommentar. Zum Üben! xx
That’s an admirable undertaking. I wish I had the time to learn a language. I’ve made no progress learning Spanish despite dating a Mexican for three years. A formal setting might be the way for me to go.
Good for you, though learning a language takes a lifetime. I’ve been at Spanish for 12 years now….Being in the country where the language is spoken is a huge advantage. Good luck!
Hey Adam- I can;t thank you enough for this post! I have been following your German travels pretty closely. My partner and I are planning on living in Berlin for 6 months (once I can get him to retire- a totally different story:-)), so I have been having him read your blogs:-) I think it is working! Thanks so much and happy travels!
I’ve been studying Thai privately for about 8 months – and while I enjoy my teacher and lessons – I wish I had done an intensive course then continued privately. After living in Thailand for a year and a half, trying to learn the language and teaching English, I think an intensive course to get you going (in the country where the language is spoken) is key. Good luck!
Awesome, congrats! This IS an admirable undertaking because from what I hear, you can get by just fine in Berlin. Perfect for lazy expats, but a bummer for language learners.
I studied Swedish for four months when I first moved to Malmö and even though I learned quite a bit, I’m still not as fluent as I should be after living there for over 2 years simply because I was never forced to use it. Almost everyone there speaks English so every time I’d try to communicate in Swedish and they sensed a struggle, they’d just respond in English. Kind of like “Look, let’s not make this more difficult than it has to be – I know your native language probably better than you.” Interested to see how you continue this. Keep up the great work!
Congratulations on completing the course! Did you have to pass an exam?
It can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re not in a formal forum – but it sounds v. successful so well done you :) x
I’ve been trying to learn French for years. I would love to be multilingual!
Four weeks are not enough time to learn any new language. you have learned alot in very small time. you must have great learning skills.
Thanks for this post. I think you have done an amazing job in only one month. I’ve learned enough to converse in a few languages and I’m convinced that the key is 24/7 practice. and not being afraid to make mistakes. Keep it up!
Thanks Linda! I think the best part about the course was realizing that it can actually be quite a bit of fun to learn a new language… Not being afraid to make mistakes is also a big takeaway!
Glückwunsch zum erfolgreichen Kurs!
Hey Adam, I agree with what you’re saying about the “fear of being wrong” I think that holds back a lot of people when they are learning any language. I had a bit of hesitation speaking when I was learning Korean last year but once you realise that the more you make mistakes the quicker you’re going to learn things get a lot easier. Also having a drink or two helps ;)