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What I learnt about “learning German” on my trip to Germany November 7, 2007

Posted by Paul Rees in german, germany.

Last week I returned home to Melbourne after three weeks in Germany. Here are my reflections on that trip as a language learning experience.

Don’t go to Germany to learn German without some structure to your learning. I think I would have been better to enrol in some classes to supplement practical exposure to the language.

The discipline I had for learning that I had at home was completely lost while travelling. Not sure how to address this one, the point above may do that.

Many, many people in Germany speak at least passable English. When they realise that you speak English (and German not so good) they will respond to you in English even if you have tried to speak in German. For me this was difficult because my German was not good enough to ask that they speak in German, ie if they did I would have not been able to understand everything. So I feel that for in order for a trip to Germany to be an opportunity to practice German in everyday situations you must be at a basic conversational level; I’m not.

Having even the smallest knowledge of the language is useful, although limited. For example sometime I found I could read signs, understand announcements in public places and even some basic language directed at me. It’s limited because you won’t understand everything, eg you may miss a key detail, and in conversation you mostly won’t know how to respond.

Overall the trip was not a significant learning experience. However I think there was some learning, ie slight expansion of vocabulary, a better understanding of when to use key polite phrases, general reinforcement of what I had already learned and, most importantly, more confidence to try to speak.



1. malinka18 - February 21, 2008

I had the same experience when I was in Germany and before I went I had taken a 6 week German course. I love Germany and I intend to return this summer but I want to go back this time with at least basic-intermediate conversational level. I found a course at http://www.learnfluentgerman.blogspot.com and I am using this course as the foundation for me to (maybe) take advanced German at the Goethe Institute here in Vancouver or in getting a private tutor.

2. sackgasse - May 26, 2008

Und eine der wichtigsten Punkte hast du vergessen: Du kennst jetzt die Mentalität der Deutschen, du weißt etwas darüber wie wir leben und arbeiten.
Abgesehen davon hast du unsere direkte Art kennengelernt :).

Ein Tipp von mir: Wenn du Deutsch sprichst, dann achte NICHT zu sehr auf die Grammatik! Versuche frei zu sprechen und sag einfach einzelne Wörter, wenn dir kein Satz einfällt. Wenn du möchtest, dass Leute dir auf deutsch langsam antworten, dann sagst du einfach:

Entschuldigung, können Sie mir auf Deutsch antworten? Bitte sprechen Sie langsam. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut.

3. madam - May 26, 2008

Thank you. This is all good. And you are right, the grammar is what stops me from speaking.

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