The German philosopher Martin Heidegger once said that man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man. It is certainly true that until you’ve mastered the rudiments of the German language, you are going to struggle to enjoy your time in the country. So just where are the best places to learn the language locally?
There is no greater example of the expression ‘knowledge is freedom’ than being able to communicate in a foreign tongue. It instils confidence, unlocks new business opportunities and, on a basic level, allows you to move around freely. Language schools are one of the best ways to learn German with intensive courses offering a wide range of programmes to suit your needs.
The Carl Duisberg Centre has been in existence for over 40 years, and since then has grown into one of the most successful foreign language establishments in Germany. CDC has eight learning centres across the country teaching more than 3,500 students every year. Whether you want to learn German from scratch or top up your existing knowledge, the centre provides a high standard of teachers and professional training methods. Their courses are tailored from intensive one to one tuition to group studies to economic and business German classes. They’re not the cheapest (7 Euros per hour)but they are one of the most established centres for this type of learning.
Also worth considering is the Goethe-Institut which has been promoting the German language for half a century and boasts a presence at 128 institutes in 76 countries at 50 Goethe Centres. The Goethe institutes in Germany attract more than 175,000 participants per year and it’s easy to see why. With good flexibility in course length, intensity and level (from beginner to university standard), classes start once a month or every other week and can be booked for any period from two weeks to a whole year (7 Euros per hour). As with Carl Duisburg, bespoke programmes are offered (such as courses designed for individual firms to cover intercultural training).
Apart from the major institutes, there are smaller language schools which offer a personal and, ultimately, cheaper route to lessons. Great for people who want a more relaxed learning experience. One such example is the Language Lounge situated in Bonn-Beuel. Their motto is ‘Relax, Just Do It’. The company specialises in small groups of pupils, with lessons taking place in the home of the trainer. If you prefer to be accommodated while in Germany too, no problem - they have a residential centre available in northern Germany. A week long one to one intensive courses at the centre, including 40 Lessons, with five nights accommodation (full board) will set you back around 2,000 Euros.
The concept isn’t new. Schools like Sprachforum (4-5 Euros an hour), for example, also offer housing and a variety of cultural outings in addition to language training. They are moderately priced but fairly intensive so don’t book too many other activities in the day as you won’t have time!
Another great offering for oiling your language wheels is Tandem Köln. As well as delivering regular German classes for a very reasonable 4 Euros per hour, the company also pairs up native English speakers with native German speakers for a one-time 15 Euros fee (free to enrolled students).
East German thinker Johann Gottlieb Fichte once said, “Die Sprache eines Volkes ist seine Seele’ (The language of a people is its soul). With such a diverse array of language learning opportunities locally, it shouldn’t be too long before you find Germany’s soul too.
Carl Duisberg Centre
T: 0221-162 6266
T: 0221-310 10 30
Ingrid-Maria Keimel-Metz, Friedrich-Ebert-Str. 11
T: 0228-9575 60
The Language Lounge
Desmond Dawson, Holtorfer Str. 15
T: 0228-908 3773
Text: Guy Fee