Recently moved to Germany - any advice?

77 posts in this topic

Me? I'm a huge user of libraries. My advice would be to sign up at your local library. It may well cost you, but you only need to borrow one or two items and you've recouped your fee. 

 

At libraries, you can borrow children's games and books, audio books (there are plenty in English in my German library), books (also in English - including children's books in English), but also language learning books with CDs and 'easy readers' (books in simpler language). Oh, and films on DVD and music CDs. Sing along with Reinhard Mey. 

 

You can then immerse yourself in German from every angle. 

 

Then there are free learning programmes online, e.g. Duolingo and Busuu. I prefer the former. It's not a substitute for a course with a teacher, but it's all extra practice and you hear the language, too. And repetition reinforces learning.

 

Then I'd go for books that explain life in Germany. Loads of them about. I have read a shedload of them.

 

And enjoy life in Germany. Don't see it as a place you've had to flee to because of UK unemployment. See it as a step forward. One former fellow student of mine who works in computing in the UK says he finds that Germans enjoy themselves more than people back in the UK. You can go into a packed Altstadt in Dusseldorf late on a weekend and everything is chilled out. The lack of Sunday shopping annoyed me for about 10 years when I moved here from London in 1999, but I appreciate the 'difference' in the atmosphere on a Sunday now. It's a day when you are forced to slow down a bit and do something different.

 

And join a club. Germans like clubs. Over half of them are in one of them at least. 

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love libraries- UK, Toronto- , and here. I have  not bought a book in years . Online borrowing, plus audiobooks,  films, music.

Love my iPad!

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I learned from @cybil here on TT 🙏 earlier this year, you can watch ARD Mediathek on your computer and/or with an iPad app.  😀  You gain access to a ton of interesting content, much of it with the option of German subtitles. 👏  This morning I actually watched about 15 minutes of the parties in Parliament in real time as they debated about the current Corona measures, with the subtitles.  There are crime shows, dramas, documentaries, comedies, films, travel shows, news, and more.  I highly recommend it for enhanced German learning, and there's no monthly fee. 

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020, 11:07:00, JamStar said:

I see that you've already booked a language course for February. Hopefully, that's with the Volkshochschule and not a commercial company. The latter often cycle pupils in and out, letting new people join every Monday. That means that existing pupils have to "revise" to let the new ones catch up. Often they don't use a book, just random handouts. They also tend to wait with starting your course until they have enough pupils signed up, which could be any time.

Enjoy Germany!

Complete rubbish. 😅

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, BethAnnBitt said:

I actually watched about 15 minutes of the parties in Parliament in real time as they debated about the current Corona measures, with the subtitles.  There are crime shows, dramas, documentaries, comedies, films, travel shows, news, and more.

Although watching some parliament debates is sometimes like watching some of the other types of shows you mentioned - especially when they are shouting and laughing. I don't know if they do that in the German or US parliaments but some UK parliament moments are certainly worth watching / revisiting online. :) 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you again for all your replies. Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.

 

Some very good suggestions about learning the language there, I'll be sure to give them a go. I've previously gone through Duolingo and Rosetta Stone, I'm now giving Babbel a go as they had a good black Friday deal. I really struggle with the grammar as I am sure everyone does at the start, I just can't seem to grasp it at the moment. My wife is great at correcting me but if I ask her questions she usually doesn't have an answer as to why the German language is the way it is which is why I need a proper teacher. I've also started a course on Coursera called "Learn to learn" to try and help me to find a better learning technique for German.

 

The town I am in is quite small so the only option really for learning German was the KVHS. Does anyone have any experiences with these schools? It sounds like everything is taught in German? My previous attempts at language classes has always been taught in English so not sure how it will be in purely German.

 

I managed to sign up for N26 bank, thank you for the advice.

 

I also managed to get a phone contract sorted, like you mentioned I couldn't believe how much security they needed. I had to give passport details and when it was delivered I was out and they wouldn't hand it to my wife, it needed to be me signing for it only. I had to pick it up from the post office and they had to scan my passport before they would give to me.

 

At the moment we're just staying with my wifes parents but we've just found our own place to move into which is not until next month, we just need to figure out how to move the rest of our belongings over now. Does anyone have recent experience with moving furniture etc from UK to Germany?

 

Thanks,

 

Luke

 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, Lukec said:

Does anyone have recent experience with moving furniture etc from UK to Germany?

If you move everything before the end of the transition period following Brexit i.e. before or on 31.12.20, you won't have any customs formalities whatsoever. 

There could be different rules in place from 1.1.21, since the UK will be leaving the EU customs union.

For exporting personal belongings out of the UK there should generally be no issues.

But you will be importing them into the EU customs area. 

https://www.zoll.de/EN/Private-individuals/Staying-in-Germany/Transferring-residence/transferring-residence_node.html 

You are relieved from customs duty on personal, used, non-commercial belongings if you can prove transfer of residence. I believe you can only use this relief once per person per move into Germany from outside the EU. 

For vehicles there are special rules - mentioned on the page I linked to. 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Lukec said:

The town I am in is quite small so the only option really for learning German was the KVHS. Does anyone have any experiences with these schools? It sounds like everything is taught in German? My previous attempts at language classes has always been taught in English so not sure how it will be in purely German.

 

Language schools always want to go for the immersion approach (i.e. teaching everything in German, even for complete beginners). Which is probably good, but sometimes when you need to know something (e.g. Grammar), being taught in a language you don't understand it doesn't really work. You also feel like you can't ask questions - at least not without doing it German, which is obviously hard to do.

 

There are a wealth of resources on the internet these days which I wish I'd had 15 odd years ago when I first tried to learn some German (before giving up). Two Youtube channels helped me a lot when I had a second go: Deutsch für Euch and German with Jenny - both in English. There are a load more, most of which explain things in German but that's also positive and unlike a teacher in a class you can rewind and listen as many times as you want. Another good option you have wherever you live is online lessons - plenty of Skype tutors that'll give up their time relatively cheaply. There's also Lingoda the "online language school" - I did a load of their lessons a couple of years ago whilst out of work and that was mostly positive.

 

I wish I could say the grammar is only a struggle at the beginning ;-)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds like you are well on your way. 

 

Regarding learning the language:

 

Always go as for as you can in the conversation and don't let the other party switch to English until necessary.  by the end, you will have learned a few new words.

 

another simple trick, especially if you already know the answer, is to ask simple questions about things. Where is the bus stop, what is this, How does this work?

 

But, only speak English to you kids, from the beginning. it is the best gift you can give them. 

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since covid most of the private schools all have interactive on line live classes day and night...but  if you need the formal integration course not sure on that one. You can look for schools in berlin and reach out to them. We live in Braunlage and my wife is taking a hybrid class from Berlin..mix of in class students  and on line over zoom.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, tor said:

 

But, only speak English to you kids, from the beginning. it is the best gift you can give them. 

 

This.  So much this.  Your kids, especially if they are young, will pick up German quickly and easily.  If you struggle with German, it is tempting to try to boost your German skills by talking German with your kids, because they will be happy to do it and won’t judge you when you make errors.  This is a huge mistake.  If they are young, they will “unlearn” English just as fast as they learn German if they aren’t forced to speak English every day.

 

And MAKE them speak it.  i know one family where the father is fluently bilingual, and the mother is from East Germany - she never learned English as a child.  The father got lax about the children speaking English as a result, so the kids understand English, but absolutely refuse to speak it.  They listen to English, and answer in German.  When forced to try to answer in English, they can come up with a couple of English words, mixed in with German, and that is it.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Lukec said:

The town I am in is quite small so the only option really for learning German was the KVHS. Does anyone have any experiences with these schools? It sounds like everything is taught in German? My previous attempts at language classes has always been taught in English so not sure how it will be in purely German.

 

I don't have experience with KVHS, but I will say not to worry about the language classes being taught in German. 

 

I took six months of intensive German courses and now am in a twice weekly night class to continue learning. Only through repetition and usage does the grammar really set in, especially in speaking so think of that as a journey :)  

 

Keep in mind that schools teach in German not only for a learning perspective, but also because not all students learning German speak English - German becomes the common language. But I will say in the 8+ months I've been in classes, if I truly couldn't ask a question in German, you can ask in English as the instructors will understand and they really want you to learn.  The workbooks you use should provide enough clear examples that the grammar is understandable, and you can always search online for additional resources on your own if something isn't sinking in.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

And MAKE them speak it.  i know one family where the father is fluently bilingual, and the mother is from East Germany - she never learned English as a child.  The father got lax about the children speaking English as a result, so the kids understand English, but absolutely refuse to speak it.  They listen to English, and answer in German.  When forced to try to answer in English, they can come up with a couple of English words, mixed in with German, and that is it.

 

It would be easier for the kids if you make them speak as well.  However, if they go to an English speaking country, they will pick it up really fast though.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, tor said:

Always go as for as you can in the conversation and don't let the other party switch to English until necessary.  by the end, you will have learned a few new words.

My best german teacher is my Bosnian mechanic who can't speak English! I think if I hanged out with him for a month I would go from B1 to B2!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, LeonG said:

 

It would be easier for the kids if you make them speak as well.  However, if they go to an English speaking country, they will pick it up really fast though.

 

Yeah - you‘d think that.  My ex-wife sounded like the caricature from a bad WWII movie when she first moved to the US - „Ve going hill downwards, Ja?“

 

Or the ultimate - „My friend XXXX is highly pregnant.  Wot?  Wot do you mean?  Highly pregnant macht sense.  Do you not understand words, you stupid English speaker?  HIGHLY pregnant.  Das macht Sinn.“

 

 

German schools teach English, but there is no substitute for a native-English parent if you want true bilingual kids.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

 

This.  So much this.  Your kids, especially if they are young, will pick up German quickly and easily.  If you struggle with German, it is tempting to try to boost your German skills by talking German with your kids, because they will be happy to do it and won’t judge you when you make errors.  This is a huge mistake.  If they are young, they will “unlearn” English just as fast as they learn German if they aren’t forced to speak English every day.

 

And MAKE them speak it.  i know one family where the father is fluently bilingual, and the mother is from East Germany - she never learned English as a child.  The father got lax about the children speaking English as a result, so the kids understand English, but absolutely refuse to speak it.  They listen to English, and answer in German.  When forced to try to answer in English, they can come up with a couple of English words, mixed in with German, and that is it.

My granddaughters heard English from their father constantly, but the older girl refused to speak it: 'Only men speak English,' she said. But now she's in the 6th or 7th Klasse and is doing just fine. Her 10-year-old sister is reading the Harry Potter books in both English and German. Their English will always have a German accent, but they'll speak it with proper grammar.
I treasure a 'birsday card' from them - 'Dear Grendmada.'

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

German schools teach English, but there is no substitute for a native-English parent if you want true bilingual kids.

 

I'm not sure if kids can ever be truly bilingual. Unless you work hard at it, they will have a much better grasp on the language they go to school in but the one spoken at home will be simple everyday language without much spelling or grammar.

 

The reason I say they'll pick up quickly if they are immersed is because I've seen it happen. I know a lady who is Icelandic and lived in Sweden. She spoke Icelandic to her sons and they replied in Swedish. I met them when the were late teens - early 20's and neither could speak Icelandic to speak of. Just a few mangled words. One of them later spent a year there and at the end of the year he didn't even have an accent.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, LeonG said:

 

I'm not sure if kids can ever be truly bilingual. Unless you work hard at it, they will have a much better grasp on the language they go to school in but the one spoken at home will be simple everyday language without much spelling or grammar.

There's always an exception, and the @sarabyrd is one.
But I get your point, @LeonG, and I agree things are most likely to end as you describe.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, LeonG said:

 

I'm not sure if kids can ever be truly bilingual. Unless you work hard at it, they will have a much better grasp on the language they go to school in but the one spoken at home will be simple everyday language without much spelling or grammar.


I‘ll admit it‘s not a standard situation, but I feel I am „truly bilingual“.

 

I grew up in Germany, attended DoDDS schools, my dad was American, mom German, at home I spoke English with dad and Deutsch mit Mutti, have now lived and worked in both Germany and the US.

 

I read, write, and converse in both languages.

 

The downside?

 

How to answer the question: „so where are you from?“

And never quite feeling at home in either place.

 

(Dual citizenship now btw; just American as a kid.)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now