If you are moving to Munich, you should learn German.
Munich is an international city. It has outstanding universities and big companies like Siemens, BMW and Allianz so it is attracting a lot of people from all over the world. But, once you move, you will see that Munich is not that international.
I had no problems renting my first apartment as I could do it from Mr. Lodge writing in English. It all started when I arrived to my apartment. I had to ask the superintendent (Hausmeister) to order name tags for the door bells and postbox in my name. He was not speaking English. Neither did the woman at the Kiosk, from where I had to buy my monthly transportation ticket. The examples can go on. Your colleagues and friends might speak English but you need to speak/ or at least understand a bit of German to be able to get on in Munich. (There are some exceptions though: I know someone who cannot speak any German although he has been living in Germany since 8 years)
I could already speak some German when I moved to Munich. But it wasn’t enough for work or to have a proper chat. So I enrolled to a course for some time. But what improved my language skills drastically was starting speaking. It wasn’t easy at all. Because I did not feel as confident when I was speaking German, I needed a lot of time to form the sentences, I was unsure of the correctness of the sentences and it gave the impression like I was unsure of my statement. Not really something you would want at work. I had to make peace with the perplexed/ suffering faces that were trying to make sense of what I was saying. I just had to be ok with the struggle in between and accept it for the sake of learning the language. And by time it got better. It opened more possibilities for me, I learned local expressions, expressions that I could not learn at the language school.
You, as the German learner should know something: Be patient with yourself and with the Germans you will speak. German is a difficult language. There are many articles, many cases, many verbs with the same ending but different prefix that mean completely something else. So one little mistake you make can mean something completely different than what you intended to say. This, of course, makes it more difficult for the Germans to make sense of what you mean. Once they see that you are struggling, they can switch to English out of kindness. The ones that cannot speak English can stop speaking with you. You should be ready and understanding.
If I made my point about why you should start learning German, let’s talk about how you will learn it.
You can already start learning German before you move.
To start learning German while you are in your home country you can…
1.Enroll to a German Course
You can find Goethe Institut in probably every country. The courses are pricey but you can be sure of good quality. You can also visit any other local German course.
2. Learn online
a. Through free resources
– Deutsche Welle: Deutsche Welle is a media company but they also have a dedicated website for teaching German as a foreign language. They offer a free online course and a lot of dedicated content to German learners. I got addicted to their Telenovela “Jojo sucht das Glück”. It is a soap opeara about a Brazilian girl moving to Germany to study and her love stories. You can watch the episode with German subtitles, see the full manuscript, do the exercises of the episode and see the list of new vocabulary with their meanings. This series is for B1, B2 level but the website offers content for all levels.
b. With teachers
c. Through an interactive online course like LinguaTV*
LinguaTV is an online foreign language learning platform. With authentic video sequences and interactive exercises you can improve your vocabulary, writing, reading and listening skills in a targeted and effective way, at the same time as improving your autonomous speaking skills and the ability to use language that is relevant to the situation.
d. Practice with a Tandem partner online
Tandem means exchange of languages where both parties try to learn the mother tongue of the other. You can find a German speaker in exchange for teaching your language. You can have skype calls where in the first half you teach your language and in the second half your partner teaches his language to you.
It might be a good idea to start tandem once you can speak a basic level of German.
Following are the websites where you can find tandem partners:
Learn German in Munich
Once you move to Munich you can learn German in the following ways:
1. Enroll to a German course
There are many German courses in Munich to choose from. When I wanted to visit a course, I was surprised that there were none in the weekend. It was challenging for me to leave work early to be in the course at 6:30 pm. Following are the schools I heard something about from friends:
- Klartext: This is the course I visited. It is definitely a good value for money. The normal courses are two nights in a week, which is quite good if you are working full time.
- Goethe Institut: Good quality but comes with a price. The evening courses are three days a week, which was tiring for my husband who visited the course. But he learned a lot.
- DeutschAkademie: The course is famous for being low priced. My husband visited this course and the quality was good.
- Edeltraud: Anyone that is visiting this course is swearing on it. They are not a private course, but more a club so the prices are much lower than other private courses. They also organise various social events frequently for practicing German.
- Volkshochschule: The community college of Munich offers many courses and one of those is German as a foreign language. The courses are low priced as they are supported by the state. The quality of the courses are good but I also heard that it depends a lot on the teacher. And the classroom size seems to be bigger than the other private courses.
- DKFA: German courses at the Munich University. They are known to be super intensive as they prepare foreign students to the lessons in German at the university.
- Tandem: I heard this course to be very good. The classes are composed of max 10 students and the teachers are very good.
- Axioma: The students of Axioma seems to be very happy with the course and the teachers.
- Inlingua: A lot of students swear by Inlingua.
2. Go to practice circles
There are groups of people that are trying to learn German like you. They organize practice circles to come together and speak German.
- Internations Munich Speak German Group: This group meets once a month to talk German, once a month they meet to play Lingua Ludica to practice German.
- Munich International Friends: This group is your go-to place when you want to connect with international people and ask questions. They organize once a month “Sunday German Conversation Meetup”.
- Aegee Sprachduo: Aegee is an international association and Sprachduo is their continous project for cultural sharing through languages. They meet once a month for language exchange. You can follow up the events on Facebook.
3. Find a German Tandem partner
You can find a Tandem partner and meet face-to-face frequently to speak German.
Following are the sites to find Tandem Partners in Munich
You can also write to the Bulletin Board in the library at Gasteig that you are looking for a Tandem partner.
4. Speak as much as you can
You are now living in a country where the language is spoken. Try communicating in German in all occasions. Even if you can’t say much, you will hear a lot and improve your vocabulary.
5. Practice with free online resources
You can also use the resources mentioned above to learn German even when you are in Munich.
If you decided to Move to Munich, you should learn German for yourself. German is a complex language and might be challenging but continue practicing. There are many resources out there that can help you and many people like you that are struggling that you can get support from. Once you learn the language, you will get much more satisfaction from living in Munich as more opportunities and possibilities will be open to you.
I hope this post can give you a gentle push to start learning German. Please let me know if there are other resources you found useful in learning German.