Sprechen Sie Deutsch, or how to master your German in Göttingen?

Glocal is a perfect platform to deepen intercultural competences and upgrade language skills. One of the key reasons for selecting Georg-August-Universität-Gottingen for my second-year studies was a chance to master my German skills for a whole year. I have studied German during my bachelor years and then worked at the German international agency back in my home country. That’s why I had some basic language knowledge before and kept my interest in continuing the studies.

1. Take a language test

Firstly, you need to take a placement test (Einstufungstest), which is available from late August till the beginning of the semester in October in the ZESS building. You need to be registered at the university to be eligible to apply for the test. Obviously, those students who want to start learning German from scratch don’t need to take any test. The test itself consists of 5 texts with gaps in the words (typically from 2 to 5 letters at the end of the word). You have limited time to accomplish the test. Soon after completion, you will receive the test results via your student mail with a recommendation for which level you should sign up. You can sign up for a lower level, but attending a higher level would be more problematic.

2. Sign up for a course

Next, you need to find a proper course. You can visit the information stand of the Lektorat DaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache) during the Introduction Week – reach out to them via mail or search for the information in the MyCampus system. Bear in mind that German in Germany is not a foreign language. Thus, ZESS cannot provide the information about German courses. You need to register via StudIp and the places will be allocated based on a first in, first served system. While most people ultimately got a place for a German course (not as for the other languages), it’s still better to register early.

There are always several courses in parallel for all the levels with different professors and timing available. There are also different types of courses for different levels, including:

  • Grundkurs (A1-A2)
  • Sprachkurs (B1 and higher)
  • Horverstehen (B1 and higher)
  • Grammatik (B1 and higher)
  • Sprechen (B1 and higher)
  • Phonetic (B2 and higher)
  • Schreiben (B2 and higher)
  • Theater (B2-C1)
  • Wortschatz, Zeitung, Filmen, etc (C1)

During my academic year, it was possible to sign up for several courses, thus, I have chosen a Grammar course and a regular course (Sprachkurs) for my level.

3. Consider an option of intensive courses or summer/Erasmus course at the university

The IIK Göttingen (Institut für Interkulturelle Kommunikation e.V.) provides an opportunity to visit an intensive course for your level. It’s 5 hours a day for 2-4 weeks. Unlike the university courses, it’s not for free and you need to check the price with the institution. Some of the classmates have visited these courses before the start of the semester and were able to continue with the B1 level during the semester.

4. Tandem partnership

You can find a tandem partner who is interested in the language you speak and could in turn help you with German. In the ZESS building (where you take your placement test) there is a pinboard with the announcements or you can search online for language tandem partnerships.

5. Uni-Kino or Theater in German

A great advantage of Göttingen is that our semester ticket offers us many cultural activities free of charge or for 1-2 euros. Together with a friend I visited the Junges Theater in Göttingen and it was a great chance to catch up with some slang vocabulary.

6. Speaking meetings with peers from your language class

Why not practice German with people who have the same level as you? This would especially help psychologically if you are afraid to talk to people in a foreign language, as it provides you some kind of a comfort zone.

7. Online learning communities

I don’t believe that a person can learn a language exclusively with the help of an app but Duo, Babbel, BBC short courses could be a good addition to your main studies/practice!

8. Using German in your everyday life

Ultimately, it’s all about practice. Göttingen is a perfect place for German learners: easily and understandable accent, friendly people and not always English-speaking staff in the supermarkets might give you an additional portion of inspiration to practice your German!

Mit freundlichen Grüßen aus der schönen Stadt Göttingen,

Author: Iryna Bakhcheva