Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from India, currently living in Berlin. I have been living in Germany for about 2 years now. I have been learning German as a foreign language and have successfully passed the Goethe A2 Certificate this month. And guess what, I scored 23 out of 25 in the 'Speaking' section of the test. Isn't that WUNDERBAR!
Thank you Deutsch Gym!
Why did you move to Germany?
We moved to Germany as a family. My wife got transferred to Berlin, so we ventured over. Fortunately my company also allowed me to work remotely as a consultant. That was even before the Corona pandemic. So my 'work from home' transition was easy.
Has it been difficult to integrate?
Yes it was difficult to integrate. Thankfully Berlin is a multicultural city and a lot of people actually speak English. And the more towards the city centre you live, the easier it is to find people who can communicate in English. But the key towards integration is understanding the German language - especially being able to speak it.
Being able to speak in German is all the more important for us because our child is in school here, and we live near the border of Berlin city where the multicultural environment is a little sparse. So knowing German is a big advantage - most of our daily communication is through German.
How has learning a language helped you in integrating in Germany?
It has helped enormously. Be it in a supermarket, in Kindergarten or in school, or with doctors - you are welcomed instantly if you can speak even a little bit of German.
Because of the effort you make, you gain respect. As a result, the other person who you are communicating with, makes an effort to communicate in English. This makes your life easier.
The important point that I did not know initially is that Germans invariably learn English in school so they know it (are also grammatically sound speakers!). But being the kind of perfectionist Germans are, they are sometimes shy and therefore don't try to begin with.
So I made a bit of effort, they made a bit of effort, and we managed!
What has been the hardest thing for you in learning German?
Getting my head around grammar has not been easy. But the biggest hurdle for me was confidence when speaking. I initially did not have the courage to speak much, apart from words like “Entschuldigung” and “danke”.
How has Language Gym helped you in your language learning journey?
It gave me the confidence to 'open my mouth' and just try. It allowed me to practice expressions and sentences in an online classroom setting. It has been super helpful. Remember - I scored maximum in my A2 test in the speaking section :)
How often do you attend Language Gym meetups?
Typically, I attend it 3 or 4 times every week. I like Deutsch Gym because there is a possibility of attending any day of the week when you have time.
What other learning methods have you tried?
I'm a self-learner, so I have experimented a lot. I am mostly busy during the day, so attending day lessons is not possible. I have tried online resources, for example Deutsche Welle and the Berlin City Library. These have really good exercises. Also YouTube has a lot of useful German learning channels. That will give you a good grounding of the language. I also watch German cartoons and films on ZDF and Netflix.
If you were to learn German again, from the start, what is the one thing that you would do differently?
I would try to start speaking the language from very early on. I joined Deutsch Gym in September while studying for A2. I wish I had joined earlier.
Other language learners will be reading this blog. What tips for them do you have in learning languages?
Keep trying different methods, and slowly you will know what works best for you! Try to converse more and more with locals.
Do you have any book/YouTube video/blog post/podcast recommendation that have helped you with your language learning?
3. YouTube - Learn German with Anja has a lot of good tips for beginners as it is bilingual (English-German)