This is an interview with Valentina, a member of our C1 group. If you would like to see why Valentina enjoys our meetups, try one today with a free trial.
Tell us a bit about yourself Valentina.
I've been living and working in Germany for the last 5 years now, but I've only been learning German since September 2020. Before that, I worked through English so I didn't focus so much on German. In my old work group and everyday life, the language was English.
I am currently learning German because I now have to work in German, and I am working hard to improve it.
My level is currently C1, at least in writing, but I still have doubts from time to time when I speak. Making small mistakes when I speak makes me feel insecure!
Was it difficult to integrate into German life?
Yes, it was very difficult at the start. It is always hard for a foreigner in a different country. I didn’t know German so well after I first moved, and I found it difficult trying to be understood when speaking with locals.
I have found that many people were unfortunately not willing to speak in English with me. This made it harder for me to integrate, but I got over this eventually.
How has learning a language helped you in integrating into Germany?
It's very easy for me to talk to people now and to make new friends.
I don't have many problems anymore when I’m in a conversation in a big group - that was always hard before. Now I can follow the conversation and interact when I need to.
If you speak German well, you have no (or very few) problems in everyday life e.g. at the bank, in shops, looking for an apartment, looking for a flat, or starting an internet/mobile/insurance contract. That makes life easier and you feel less lonely.
What has been the hardest thing for you in learning German?
I find self-confidence the hardest! I still make some mistakes when I speak which makes me feel insecure, especially when I speak in formal or professional contexts.
How has Deutsch Gym helped you in your language learning journey?
Deutsch Gym has helped me a lot in this sense to become more fluent. It has helped me with being exposed to new vocabulary, and to discover new perspectives and interesting topics.
Last but not least, Deutsch Gym has helped me to meet new people and feel more confident and more integrated.
In Deutsch Gym you get to talk with so many different people from all over the world, who are going through the same experience as you, in moving to Germany and learning German. You get to learn so much from them: you learn about their culture, they recommend interesting clubs or bars or just interesting places in your city, and indeed around the world, you get lots of tips from them or can give them tips, and you take the time to correct and improve each other’s German.
How often do you attend Deutsch Gym online meetups?
In the beginning I attended the online meetups every day. After that I started a new job, and I don't really have the time to go everyday anymore. Now I attend meetups 2-3 times a week, so I still get a lot of practice in.
What other learning methods have you tried?
I learned a lot on my own, with books. But I also tried courses and 1-to-1 teaching.
If you were to learn German again, from the start, what is the one thing that you would do differently?
I think in general I would not change much. I wish I had known about Deutsch Gym earlier and could have started with the group sooner.
Other language learners will be reading this blog. What tips for them do you have in learning languages?
Speak as much as possible, in all kinds of conditions, and with all kinds of people in everyday life. From supermarkets to bank employees, fellow students and work colleagues, to gym-goers and friends. People from all walks of life, really!
Do you have any book/YouTube video/blog post/podcast recommendation that have helped you with your language learning?
One book that was particularly helpful to me was a grammar Book: Grammar Active.
Now for a general, non-language related question! What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
I don't have just one - different friends have done many nice things for me :)
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