German as a foreign language in Berlin
Learning German as a foreign language in Berlin can be a lot of fun. However, fun should not be the primary goal of a German course. After all, it is about acquiring a language that is relatively complicated to learn. This requires a certain degree of personal responsibility, discipline and independence. Then, let’s not kid ourselves, Berlin comes into play. The nightlife in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, the underground fashion events in Neukölln and the culinary temptations of all the market halls and street markets are just a few of the things that are more fun for all of us than learning German as a foreign language in Berlin. But all the effort is worth it, and in our German courses at the deutSCHule, the fun part of learning German is surely not neglected!
German as a foreign language
German is of course the national language, the mother tongue and official language, even in Berlin. However, there are definitely far more people in Berlin who speak at least one other language fluently than in any other major German city. This has to do with the character of this crazy German metropolis. Berlin has always been in a state of constant change. Many people are and have been searching here for meaning, for an attitude to life, for themselves. The cultural life in Berlin is legendary. David Bowie and Iggy Pop lived and worked in Berlin. The international start-up scene has been settling in Berlin for years. Even John F. Kennedy called himself “a Berliner”. Berlin is cosmopolitan, multicultural, avant-garde and multilingual. People often have the feeling that German is a foreign language in Berlin. Whether in Berghain, the subway or at the Börek stand – people speak English, Spanish, Turkish, Swedish, Arabic but only rarely German.
Yet German is the key
Despite the many languages and cultures that come together here, there are places and situations where you have to speak German in Berlin, or where it is at least favourable to speak German as a foreign language; at the citizens’ office, the open-late kiosk or the German-speaking university – and that is where most of our students will find themselves sooner or later. It is not a given that every person in Berlin speaks and understands English. In East Berlin, as in all of East Germany, English was not a standard foreign language in schools and in everyday life during the time of the GDR. Russian, for example, was much more widely spoken as a foreign language. That is why it’s important to learn and master German as a foreign language in Berlin. Imagine a German-speaking person ordering a whisky in German in Dublin; or a glass of wine in Madrid; or sake in Tokyo… It probably wouldn’t work very well. And people probably wouldn’t find it very polite either.