This is an interview with Lina, a member of our A2 group. If you would like to see why Lina enjoys our meetups, try one today with a free trial.
Tell us a bit about yourself Lina.
Hello! I'm Lina from Lithuania, a small and beautiful country in the middle of Europe. I am currently living in Dublin, Ireland, as part of an Erasmus+ volunteering project, volunteering with the homeless. My daily tasks are to integrate homeless people into society through various activities. The activities I organise also act as a tool to prevent alcohol and drug abuse and increase the well-being of homeless people. I have been studying German at Deutsch Gym for 3 months now. I am learning German for many reasons, such as the opportunity to study for a Master's degree in Germany, the chance to communicate with German friends who don't speak English,for better job opportunities in Germany and the high demand for German-speaking people in Lithuania.
Have you moved country to improve your speaking skills?
My story is quite funny. I lived in Germany before I moved to Ireland because I was an exchange student in Germany. After graduating, I decided to help vulnerable people and found a project in Dublin. I decided to move to Ireland temporarily to improve my English and change my environment.
However, I would like to study and probably work in Germany in the future, so I am trying to maintain my German and improve it as much as possible whilst living in an English-speaking country.
At the moment I am focusing on my volunteering project, acro yoga classes and learning German. I'm looking forward to the nicer weather and longer days, and I'll definitely be going to the Gaeltacht!
Has it been difficult to integrate?
I arrived in Germany 10 days before the pandemic started. It was quite difficult to get all the paperwork in order quickly. It was hard at the start to make friends as well.
However the fact that I came to study made integration much easier, and I had a lot of support from the German university community and students. Over time, I made great friends. I ended up changing my place of residence and found wonderful roommates who helped me to learn the language as they spoke to me mostly in German.
I would also like to add that integration in Germany is not so difficult because of the fact that it is very multicultural, with many language schools and a variety of organisations as well as clubs dedicated to helping newcomers.
It is easy to learn the language and to get to know the German culture. One of my tips would be to be open to change, to do research on the internet about all possibilities in your city and don’t be afraid to try them! This makes integration much easier.
How has learning a language helped you in integrating into Germany?
As I mentioned before, I am currently living in Ireland and have plans to go back to Germany to study for my Masters. I have already found that Germany has a very high quality education, many international students and opportunities for internships and well-paid jobs.
When I started speaking German, I became more confident and noticed that I made a lot of German friends. I also easily found a Summer job and an internship in Germany. I felt that I was no longer isolated from German speakers and I could easily join in with the various activities and events.
What has been the hardest thing for you in learning German?
I think confidence was the hardest thing about learning German. At first it was very difficult to see the reactions of the Germans when they tried to understand my poor language!
It was also difficult to force myself to speak German when I knew that I could easily communicate in English.
But I challenged myself and tried to speak German everywhere. In this way I learned very quickly and developed confidence in myself and my linguistic abilities.
How has Deutsch Gym helped you in your language learning journey?
Deutsch Gym has helped me and continues to help me keep up with my German and learn new words.
It has also helped me to meet new people, to learn the language in a fun and relaxed way and even to answer some questions about myself and my values.
As I live in Ireland, I haven't had a chance to attend an in-person Deutsch Gym meetup yet.
What other learning methods have you tried?
I first learned German for a few months just by working a summer job in Germany, listening to what my colleagues were saying and learning words from a beginners' book in the evenings.
Later I did lessons with a private German teacher because I couldn't find enough time for group lessons when I was busy with both studying and working. I studied German for a while before attending university in Germany.
The university provided me with ample opportunities to study German, and over the Summer and during the holidays, when I could take a break from studying, I did some intensive courses as well.
I liked the intensive courses the best because I got to spend a lot of time on the language, meet other students, and feel a speedy progression. It was very motivating, and it was also a lot of fun to learn because I was studying with motivated native-speaker teachers.
If you were to learn German again, from the start, what is the one thing that you would do differently?
If I had to learn the language all over again, I don't think I would change anything. German is my second foreign language, and when I was learning English, my first foreign language, I was very unmotivated and lazy. I learnt from these learning mistakes and did not make them again when I learnt German.
Other language learners will be reading this blog. What tips do you have for them in learning languages?
I would highly recommend everyone to go and live in the country whose language you are learning, even for a short time. This will help you to love the language more, increase your motivation and help you to make native-speaking friends. It is also very useful to practice the language every day for at least 30 minutes.
Do you have any book/video/podcast recommendations that have helped you with your language learning?
For learning vocabulary I recommend Quizlet.com. It's a good way to write down new words and learn them while practising spelling and pronunciation. And it's great fun!
To improve your listening skills, I recommend the DeutschLernen app. By downloading this app, you can listen to "Top Thema" from Deutsche Welle every day on the bus or in long queues. It is so convenient! The topics are relevant and interesting, last no longer than 3 minutes, and harder words are explained in the topic glossary. I recommend it to everyone!
For those who like serials, I'd also recommend "Jojo sucht das Glück" and "Nicos Weg". These series are tailored to those who are learning the language. The content is very engaging and the language is clear and slow. I have watched them several times. It was great to see my progress, when I understood much more the second time than the first time.
Now for a general, non-language related question! What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
Once, just before my very first German lesson with a private teacher, I got lost in a new city. There was little time before the lesson started. My phone was running out of power, so I couldn't use Google Maps to find my teacher's location. Suddenly I saw a woman and asked her for directions. She kindly offered to drop me to my teacher's place in her car. I was extremely grateful :)
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