You’re not the only one.
Some 50,000 people a year are now making the move to Berlin, from other regions of Germany – as well as from all parts of the world.
It’s not hard to see why.
Berlin is quite simply Germany’s most energetic, lively – and most happening city.
How To Learn German in Berlin
In this post I take a look at the best ways to quickly learn German in Berlin.
First of all, the big question many people ask:
Do You Need To Speak German To Live in Berlin?
There are an increasing number of expats especially from English speaking countries living in Berlin who speak little or no German.
Some of these expats will tell you they get by ok much of the time in Berlin without having to speak German.
But the fact is, not knowing German puts you at a definite disadvantage when living in Berlin.
German is of course the native language in Berlin.
Many Berliners have at least some knowledge of English, but it varies from person to person. Younger people generally speak reasonable English.
And bank ATM machines, public transport ticket machines, public phones and so on can usually be switched to display English.
Older people tend to have much less knowledge or ability with English. Especially in the eastern part of Berlin knowledge of English among older people is definitely weaker. This is because in the Communist GDR days it was Russian rather than English that was the first foreign language taught in schools.
But for job seeking in Berlin the fact is you’ll need to speak German to even have a chance to be considered as a potential candidate for many positions.
Berlin isn’t as accommodating of English speakers as for example the Netherlands, where it’s possible to find a decent job without having to speak Dutch. Beyond simple tourist trade interaction, people in Berlin aren’t so willing to speak English all the time with newcomers.
There are some exceptions to this, such as the IT and Web start-up sectors. But generally speaking, you’ll be placing yourself at a disadvantage in the already tight job market in Berlin if you don’t speak German.
You also need to know German for your interactions with the public authorities, such as for visa permits and the like.
Government officials in Berlin are officially required to speak German in their dealings with the public. This they say (ironic as it sounds) is to avoid the potential for mistakes in understanding.
If you don’t speak German in Berlin, then you have to rely on having a German speaker coming with you whenever you have dealings with the authorities or landlords.
Being able to speak German will also be to your advantage when viewing and renting apartments. Not to mention day to day living and socializing in Berlin.
My advice: if you’re going be sticking around in Berlin for more than a few months, then get started learning German right away
It will be well worth it and being able to speak and understand German will make life in Berlin a lot easier.
Learning German in Berlin
One of the best ways to get a head start in German is to study with an MP3-based self-study course. This is what I did prior to moving to Berlin and it was by far the best investment in learning German I ever made. More about this below.
But in addition to a self-study course, you will also benefit from attending some more traditional style German language classes when you arrive in Berlin.
Language Classes in Berlin
The Goethe Institute is the German government’s official cultural organization. The Goethe Institute is located in Berlin Mitte. However their classes do not come cheap.
There are also a number of privately run language schools in Berlin. But the standards and effectiveness vary. One of the better known is the Hartnackschule situated in Schöneberg.
There are also courses offered by the VHS or Volkshochschulen. These are adult education centres run by the city. Classes mostly take place in the evenings, but there are some with classes held on Saturdays or during weekdays.
Each of the twelve boroughs of Berlin has its own network of Volkshochschulen. The courses are subsidized and the teaching level is generally ok to good – even if Germans tend to regard them as a little amateur and not “serious” enough.
But the VHS courses are certainly cheap at around 120-150 Euros for six to eight weeks or so of classes. However, you need to register and sit an aptitude test in advance and the lower level German VHS courses tend to fill up fast.
If you want to take a classroom language course in Berlin – and I would recommend that you do, then the VHS are probably your best bet.
My advice: check out www.berlin.de/vhs for more info about VHS courses on offer in Berlin.
One thing you should beware of when living in Berlin is to avoid getting stuck in an “expat bubble”, in which you socialize or hang out mostly or exclusively with people from your own country and speaking your own language.
It doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off completely from your native country, but try to get to know Germans and get used to speaking German rather than English or whatever.
You should also make a point of seeking out German media – TV, downloads, reading German websites, magazines, reading German language online forums etc. Start with Der Spiegel’s excellent news website (the German version – they also have one in English).
Learn German Quickly With GermanPod
As well as attending a language class, you can give yourself a head start in learning German by signing up for the self-study MP3 based course offered by GermanPod.
GermanPod is now one of the world’s most successful digitally based online language courses. It’s not hard to see why.
My advice: check out www.germanpod101.com and get a head start right now with learning German
GermanPod – The Best Language Course For Expats in Berlin
GermanPod is THE ideal audio MP3-based German language course for expats in Berlin.
This is because with GermanPod you learn German quickly in your own time, as and when you want – and at your own pace.
And what’s more, GermanPod is VERY low cost.
You can use GermanPod on your smartphone and tablet, as well on as your laptop or PC.
So you can be learning German wherever you are – and whenever you’re on the move.
With GermanPod you can make the most of those spare moments of time that you have which otherwise just get wasted.
Such as in the car, commuting on the bus or train, whilst standing in a line or sitting in a waiting room.
Learning German With GermanPod is Easy, Fast – And Fun
GermanPod teaches you modern, up-to-date German. The kind of German that people speak in everyday life in Germany.
GermanPod comes with four different learning levels -Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. So you can choose the level which suits you best.
That makes learning German with GermanPod very easy, fast and fun.
I myself learned German using the self-study audio method before I came to Berlin and I found it the fastest and easiest way of learning to speak and understand German.
GermanPod is Very Affordable
GermanPod is available on a monthly subscription basis. It’s “pay as you go”. Unlike some German courses, you don’t have to part with a large sum of money.
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For longer term advance subscriptions there are discounts of between 11% and up to 60%.
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And it gives you the flexibility to use as little or as much of GermanPod as you wish, when you wish – and according to your own budget.
In short, GermanPod is probably the best investment you can make to ensure the success of your move to Berlin.
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