So, as it happens, you are, for some reason, really into learning German. Maybe you are a Die Hard Kraftwerk fan, or really interested in the Prussian History of Berlin. Maybe you just want to be able to read Schopenhauer or Marx in their original language, or even just understand the newest German TV Series on Netflix without having to keep your eyes fixed on the subtitles. Maybe you want to study Mechanical Engineering at RWTH University in Aachen or Informatik at TU Berlin. You know what they say, German is “the” language of Engineering. Perhaps you have simply fallen in love and head over heels for that gorgeous German girl or guy and want to make an impression. As you can see, there are several reasons why you should learn German. Here is a non-essential guide to learning German.
Learning German: The Master Riddler
The enthusiasm, the ambition and the thirst for knowledge is all there. You remain highly motivated to learn German and keep going until you realise one problem. When you realise that the whole German language revolves around three articles for which there seems to be no clear patterns, you experience your first little shock. Of course, you need to learn words and this will be a fun experience. But you cannot learn them without their designated article. If you do, how will you be able to handle the akkustiv and the dativ, not to mention the genitiv. You want to speak German correctly, right?
Yet, in some cases, the articles change the meaning of the word, as in:
- Der Teil and das Teil
- Die Steuer and das Steuer
- Der Verdienst and das Verdienst
- Die Otter and der Otter
- Der Tau and das Tau
Then you realise that there is the struggle with the plural forms of the nouns:
- Why is it “Häuser” but not “Hausen”?
- If so, how come it is “Studenten” but not “Stündenter”?
- If “Taxis” is the plural form of Taxi, why do we not pluralise the noun “boot” as “Boote” and not “boots”?
Where is the logic in that? After a while, you’ll be confronted with syntactical chain reactions disguised as words:
Holy Guacamole! What is going on here?
“The Awful German Language”
Let me quote Mark Twain, creator of the novel characters Tam Sawyer and Huckelberry Finn:
Surely there is no other language which is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp. One is washed about in it, hither and thither, in the most helpless way; and when at last he thinks he has captured a rule which offers firm ground to take a rest on amid the general rage and turmoil of the ten parts of speech, he turns over the page and reads, “Let the pupil make careful notes of the following exceptions.” He runs his eye down and finds that there are more exceptions to the rule than instances of it.”
This was what he said in his satirical book “The Awful German Language”, which he wrote in 1880. Don’t get me wrong, Twain loved the German language, nonetheless he felt it was necessary to express his astonishment about the peculiarities of the language he admired.
I’m not writing this to criticise the German language, which I like so much: German really is a brilliant language. Especially if you intend to describe emotions, observations and to philosophise. No wonder the German philosophers caused their homeland to be known as the land of the thinkers, 2 millennia after the Greeks did the same for their country. I strongly believe that the language of the German thinkers also deserves quite a lot of credit. German Language is a vast ocean of expressions and being able to apply it eloquently is definitely a valuable trait.
But if this language has so many difficult aspects, how can you learn it well?
Teach Me German, I’m begging you!
In comparison to languages like English, French and Spanish, which can be learnt or even self-taught pretty much anywhere with relative ease, it is majorly advantageous to learn German in the very land in which it is spoken as the main language. The best and possibly only way to learn German is the immersive way! Thus, learning German in Germany is the best option if you intend to do it properly. German lessons in Germany will certainly provide you with the best chances of mastering speaking, pronunciation and listening comprehension. Imagine having regular German lessons during the week, but also being able to speak German all day, every time you leave your home! Wouldn’t this be a welcome challenge?
Ich bin gerade mitten in der Serie “Per Anhalter durch die deutsche Sprache,” und suche nach die Frage nach dem Sinn des Lebens, dem Universum und dem ganzen Rest!
You would not only learn German, but also begin a different life, where you will be engaging with the German language and German culture on a daily basis. Even if you can’t find the exact meaning of every word you encounter, many German cities offer a lot to see and experience. They also have plenty of language schools to choose from.
Learning German in Berlin: Why and how?
If you want to enjoy life while learning German, Berlin is the place to be. If you want to be involved in a range of cultural aspects such as Prussian Culture, German Art and History, fine architecture, creative music, energetic dances and a vivid lifestyle, Berlin is one of the most popular cities of the world to live in for people from all walks of life. Just saying!
If you also take into consideration that it still is one of the most affordable cities in whole of Europe, you’ll surely be able to understand why learning German in Berlin is the best way forward. You’d have plenty of time to explore the city outside the course hours, and do some of the following popular activities:
- meet wonderful and interesting people from all around the world
- visit the remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate and the Museum Island
- enjoy beautiful sunsets by a beautiful lake or a river
- cycle around the interesting districts
- join a barbecue party in a beautiful park and watch acrobats, yogis and mime artists
- scavenge for second hand clothes, jewellery and books at one of the many flea markets
- drink mulled wine at a Christmas market during the winter
- eat currywurst, döner, pizza, crepes and falafel on the street
Be Cool While Learning German
Most importantly, be cool while learning German in Berlin. Like, really cool. Why not go to a funky language school in Berlin and find a classmate who could add you to the guest list for the next Berghain party. If you’re looking to spruce things up and live differently, Berlin is the answer!
Do yourself a favour and think about learning German in Berlin!
‘ll leave you with a quote from David Bowie:
“Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza one could imagine!”