If you're looking to learn German abroad, Germany is a natural choice. Even though several other countries speak the language, Germany is the most classic of all of these destinations for German learners.
Not just that, but you're more likely to learn the most widely spoken version of German (you know how much Germans make fun of how Austrians speak... right?)
So, whether you're trying to learn German the way Germans speak it, interested in the nightlife of Berlin, or just want a destination cheaper than nearby Switzerland, Germany has got you covered.
With so many language programs to choose from, it’s best to first define what your goals are for your language study abroad experience. Do you want to take classes five days a week? Do you want to be in a university setting? Do you prefer smaller groups or one-to-one training? Is it important that your certificate at the end is widely recognized and accepted? Or do you just want to practice the language?
Or literally, the people school, is like a community center found in most cities and towns around Germany that offer German Language courses. In bigger towns and cities they offer more courses with a wider time selection, even offering intensive courses that meet 4-5 times a week for a half a day.
This option is great because it will give you a full-immersion experience with people from all walks of life, cost is usually minimal. However, if you're a university student who also wants to get credit for these courses, these classes won't be recognized for college credits. Also, course offerings might be limited depending on your location.
This is the official German language institute of German in Germany and abroad. They offer intensive language training, language training for professionals, small groups and one-to-one training, German language courses for those 50+ and German language test prep courses. You can also sign up for a summer language course in Heidelberg.
The institute that sets the bar for German language learning might be the right place for you with 13 locations spread around Germany. Expect high quality courses with flexibility in terms of place and time of study. However, cost is usually 2-3 times more expensive than VHS courses -- though they're more intensive and academic.
The Goethe Institut is by no means the only institution offering language courses though, and there are plenty of private language schools or academies in just about every big city in Germany. If none of the previously mentioned options fit your schedule or appeal to you, you can certainly find a tutor or small group from a private school that can be adapted specifically to your needs and levels.
This option is the most flexible and offers the most variety in terms of affordability, quality, and schedule. At the same time, these schools can be just as expensive as the Goethe Institut and quality depends on the school, so do your research before signing up for a course.
There are ways to improve your German in Germany without signing up for a course if you look up a tandem partner, or language exchange partner. How it works is you contact someone looking to learn your language who speaks the language you want to learn. Then you arrange meetings and spend half the time speaking one language and the rest of the time speaking the other.
This option is only suggested for those who already speak a decent amount of German and want to improve natural fluency with native speakers. It's also a great way to make friends.
The overwhelming advantages of this option is that it's free (except maybe for the cost of a cup of coffee) and a great way to make local friends and learn about culture first hand. Just understand that it's easy for the tandem sessions to remain one sided in a language if a partner is stronger at a language than the other. Also, there's not a lot of "instruction time" depending on your partner's schedule.
For adults, your options stop here. For those still in college, university courses are an option for you if you're interested in learning a high enough level German to eventually transfer into a German university as an international student. A certain level of German is expected upon entering, and be prepared to get nit-picked for your der, die, das-es.
Also, in addition to speaking, a good part of the program will focus on academic writing in German. Overall, this is a great place to make friends and prepare intensely for studying in German butYou might find the program a little too intense if your goal is day to day conversation.
"Berlin is like being abroad in Germany," is how German-born model Claudia Schiffer once described the city. The capital of Germany is not only the political hub of Deutschland, it's also a magnet of art and culture in Europe. Mix that together with a history like no other city in Germany, and you've got a playground that you'll never tire of during your stay. Visit Musuem-Island, the Brandenburger Tor, the Berlin Wall and take part in some of the many international festivals that take place annually there.
Located in the south-west of Germany, Heidelberg is a small but picturesque city, with a youthful spirit. Home to Heidelberg University, well-known even outside of German borders and less than 50 miles to the French border, Heidelberg offers a taste of Germany that you won't find elsewhere.
With a mix of tradition and technology, Munich is another great place to study. The capital of Bavaria and third biggest city in Germany, Munich is close to castles and the German Alps, has more than 42 theaters and 65 museums, loads of schick cafes dotted throughout the city and of course home to the world-famous Oktoberfest. A small city with big city options, Munich is a wonderful place to taste the heart of German culture and tradition.
Planning Your Trip
What qualifications do you need to learn German in Germany?
Depending on the program and course you choose, you can start learning German from the basics or you can take your language abilities to new heights by enrolling in more advanced courses -- the options are there for all levels, just make sure to find out which course is appropriate for your needs before you sign up!
How much will it cost to learn German in Germany?
Luckily, Germany is one of the least expensive countries in the EU to live and study. Although final numbers come down to where and what course specifically you sign up for, chances are you'll be paying significantly less for your study abroad language course than you would be for a semester of college, even with the Euro-Dollar exchange rate.
For more specific prices, browse the language courses listed below -- as mentioned in the course types section, costs vary from school to school and depend on how long you'll be studying for.
Even though studying in Germany is affordable, perhaps you're looking for a way to cut back even more on expenses. You can find a range of financial assistance on the through the German Academic Exchange Service.
In addition, some language programs might offer private scholarships. Don't forget to ask about those as well!
What kind of cultural activities can you do in your free time?
A great way to immerse yourself in the culture is to interact with the local people. Other than Homestays, you can find yourself some German friends by participating in Vereins, or clubs, which are common in Germany or take an exercise or art class at the Volkshochschule in German and try testing out your Deutsch on native speakers. Try not to let the Germans start speaking English with you (and they will try speaking English with you) and use German whenever possible.