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Old 11.08.2016, 22:20
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Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

Hi everyone!

I'm planning my move to Switzerland towards the end of the year/early next year. I'm an EU citizen so no permit issues for the first few months, which should allow me to get a job (7 year's experience, legal degree + business studies, international experience, etc).

As I don't speak German and the plan is to move to Zurich/Basel, the lack of local language skills will hamper my job hunting efforts, and would also preclude me from more basic service jobs while I look for something more permanent.

So I was thinking of taking an intensive German course (maybe 25-30 hours of lessons per week for 8-12 weeks, then about 2-3 hours of self study every day). I imagine I'd get to A2 within that period or B1 if I turn out to be a genius. Or is that just too optimistic?

From what I researched, this can be done in pretty much any city within a German speaking country (Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich, Basel, etc).
I'm familiar with Zurich and Geneva living costs as I've spent some time there, so... I'm trying to look at a more cost efficient option for my language study, as I'd be studying full time and burning through savings.

So, off the bat, would you guys consider it a good investment to study in Germany? I know that Swiss-German is a completely different dialect, but my friends in Switzerland have advised me to study regular high German and then adapt to Swiss German. From my research, I'll need 900-1000 euros/4 weeks in a city like Dusseldorf just for tuition and shared student accommodation (not including food and any incidentals) which is actually very doable. I'd like to keep monthly costs under 2000 EUR, which seems doable in Germany as I'm pretty frugal with food and social activities.

So, basically my question is: If I want to improve my German language skills quickly as a way to improve my employability in Switzerland, is studying in Germany a wise option/good investment? If yes, any schools/cities that you've had good experiences with?

If not, what would you recommend for someone that wants to study intensively and dedicate 2-3 months to create some German proficiency?
Thanks!
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Old 11.08.2016, 22:33
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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Hi everyone!

I'm planning my move to Switzerland towards the end of the year/early next year. I'm an EU citizen so no permit issues for the first few months, which should allow me to get a job (7 year's experience, legal degree + business studies, international experience, etc).

As I don't speak German and the plan is to move to Zurich/Basel, the lack of local language skills will hamper my job hunting efforts, and would also preclude me from more basic service jobs while I look for something more permanent.

So I was thinking of taking an intensive German course (maybe 25-30 hours of lessons per week for 8-12 weeks, then about 2-3 hours of self study every day). I imagine I'd get to A2 within that period or B1 if I turn out to be a genius. Or is that just too optimistic?

From what I researched, this can be done in pretty much any city within a German speaking country (Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Zurich, Basel, etc).
I'm familiar with Zurich and Geneva living costs as I've spent some time there, so... I'm trying to look at a more cost efficient option for my language study, as I'd be studying full time and burning through savings.

So, off the bat, would you guys consider it a good investment to study in Germany? I know that Swiss-German is a completely different dialect, but my friends in Switzerland have advised me to study regular high German and then adapt to Swiss German. From my research, I'll need 900-1000 euros/4 weeks in a city like Dusseldorf just for tuition and shared student accommodation (not including food and any incidentals) which is actually very doable. I'd like to keep monthly costs under 2000 EUR, which seems doable in Germany as I'm pretty frugal with food and social activities.

So, basically my question is: If I want to improve my German language skills quickly as a way to improve my employability in Switzerland, is studying in Germany a wise option/good investment? If yes, any schools/cities that you've had good experiences with?

If not, what would you recommend for someone that wants to study intensively and dedicate 2-3 months to create some German proficiency?
Thanks!
3 months half day course would be a fantastic start, particularly if you spend the rest of the time wandering around Dusseldorf practising. You won't be writing any Sonnets, or be able to work in a purely German environment where you also have to write, but it would let you hit the ground running with enough German to get through everyday life.

If you build on that base by reading (3 months intensive put me roughly at the reading level of a 10-11 year old), then you maximise the initial investment. (I enrolled in USZ after 18 months, starting with zero German when I arrived).

Learn High German 1st, I found Swiss German came for free - I am anything other than linguistically talented.
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Old 11.08.2016, 22:46
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

What is your total budget for the German classes? You mention 2000 EUR/month, but not how many months you'd like to study

I had tried group classes before at Bellingua (a school in Zürich), and while the teacher was great and engaging I wasn't really going anywhere.

But with private classes over the internet I was able to go from almost zero (mid-A1 at most) to passing the B1 Goethe exam in about 3.5 months while working a full time job.

It wasn't cheap, but wasn't more expensive than A1 to B1 group classes in a good Zürich language school either - and in much less time. They currently quote 5760€ for going from zero to doing the B1 exam in 2-3 months.

Their website is https://smartergerman.com/

I am not affiliated with them in any way, nor do I gain money from recommending them - I'm just a happy student

Check their Youtube channel and their website. They have some testimonials, videos, and resources that will allow you to see their teaching style.
There's also a sampler of their grammar videos, and a couple of experiments were people tried to go from almost zero to B1 in two weeks.
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Old 11.08.2016, 22:54
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

Thanks for your answers!

Two to three months for the language course. My budget is somewhat flexible, but ideally under 2000EUR a month for total costs (tuition, accommodation, food, public transport, etc). I believe that's in line with a student's living cost in Germany. I've already hit my 30's but I can slum it like it's 2006

Dusseldorf is one of the options, I looked at it came up when I googled intensive classes and it's a biggish city with good access to the Netherlands/Belgium and I'd like to maybe visit friends there for a weekend once a month (long distance travel is not included in the budget, don't worry!). I've heard East Germany is cheaper, not sure if it would be a relevant price difference, but definitely open to Berlin or smaller cities, as it's only for a few months I can pretty much adjust to anything.

I've been searching the forum and found a few school referrals, mainly in Switzerland but a few in Germany. I even found one in Konstanz, which would technically allow me to study and look for a job in Switzerland at the same time, but quite frankly that might be too much to juggle and I'd really just like to take some time to get my German rolling.

I'll keep looking for schools, and other online and tutor options, and also wait to see if anyone else has any particular experience or recommendation.
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Old 11.08.2016, 23:12
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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...My budget is somewhat flexible, but ideally under 2000EUR a month for total costs (tuition, accommodation, food, public transport, etc)...
In that case, Germany is a far better bet than Zurich. Not only will it be less pricey for day-to-day living, you'll get to practice high German in daily life. In Switzerland you mostly hear Swiss German so it can be quite a challenge to get much practice.
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Old 11.08.2016, 23:14
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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In Switzerland you mostly hear Swiss German so it can be quite a challenge to get much practice.
And from my experience if you do try to speak High German, they'll see you're not a native speaker and do the courtesy of switching to English...
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Old 11.08.2016, 23:24
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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And from my experience if you do try to speak High German, they'll see you're not a native speaker and do the courtesy of switching to English...
Which can be handy, and much appreciated! But if the idea is to spend one's hard-earned money on intensive courses with the goal of getting a job here, having people constantly switch to English might not be so helpful.
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Old 12.08.2016, 01:56
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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And from my experience if you do try to speak High German, they'll see you're not a native speaker and do the courtesy of switching to English...
Only if your German's shit.
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Old 12.08.2016, 02:09
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

What you suggest is pretty intense. It may well fry your brain. Are you sure you're up to it? What I find with group classes is you learn German from a bunch of people who can't speak German. I know people who did it, and their German is ok but sounds terrible. A weird foreign accent mix full of grammatical mistakes oh but then again, might be useful for when you come to Switzerland ;-) You might be better one-on-one focusing on what you'll think you'll need and then practising as much as possible.

I've taken the slowly slowly approach - immer langsam mit den jungen Pferden!
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Old 12.08.2016, 02:34
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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What you suggest is pretty intense. It may well fry your brain. Are you sure you're up to it? What I find with group classes is you learn German from a bunch of people who can't speak German. I know people who did it, and their German is ok but sounds terrible. A weird foreign accent mix full of grammatical mistakes oh but then again, might be useful for when you come to Switzerland ;-) You might be better one-on-one focusing on what you'll think you'll need and then practising as much as possible.

I've taken the slowly slowly approach - immer langsam mit den jungen Pferden!
OP is only a couple of years older than when I did it. I'm not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. As to the accent thing, that would depend on the teacher. The class I was in was full of Albanians, but I sound like a pretty much like a German, according to the Swiss, a Bielefelder, according to the Germans.
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Old 12.08.2016, 14:44
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

So it seems the way to go.

Try to get my stuff together and aim for an early October start, that would allow for 2 to 3 month's course before the year is over and then I can enjoy Weihnachtsferien. See, I'm learning already!

Now to scour the internets for the best course for my needs!

Thanks everyone and enjoy the weekend
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Old 12.08.2016, 15:55
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

If you can manage to keep up with the intensity of that learning regime I reckon you could get to B1 in that period -- though the immersion element is crucial. If you're living in Germany and find new friends willing to put up with your learning needs, you should be able to race ahead.

And yes, SmarterGerman, as someone mentioned, is good though actually living and studying in Germany is probably best of all.
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Old 12.08.2016, 16:04
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

I've done it before (granted I was in my twenties) so should be OK.
I'll take it as a challenge, to see how I fare

Studying intensively along with homework and trying to immerse oneself in the country/language is indeed draining and requires an enormous amount of dedication to not just fall into an "English bubble" with other students. English or any other language. I've seen a lot of *****ese/ans/ish have this problem and it hampers everything from social inclusion to overall course performance. Having said that, in my experience success has less to do with lack of adversity and more to do with motivation and ability to step up. If one put's their mind to it, there's little that can't be achieved
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Old 13.08.2016, 03:09
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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If not, what would you recommend for someone that wants to study intensively and dedicate 2-3 months to create some German proficiency?
Thanks!
You should move to Germany and get 1:1 lessons for 4hrs/day. Get a part time job in a bar in the evening and study for 4hrs/day also.

That will give you around 240hrs of tuition over 12 weeks, along with another 240hrs of study. At 20 words per day, you will learn (let's be generous) around 2000 words after 90 days.

My feeling is, you will easily reach B1 in that time, and would make a fair stab at B2. You need B2 to be able to work but if you go at it intensely in 12 weeks, you would rock through B2 (exam) within another 12 weeks. There is a big jump in the vocabulary. From my recollection you need around 4000 words vocab to be in B2, and it is only around 1000-1500 for B1 level.

Even if you learn the grammar really well, it is simply not possible to genuinely push your vocabulary up quicker than is human.

Cost in another factor. If you want to get through, as quickly as possible (B2 and conversationally fluent in 12 weeks) you will need to spend a lot of money. A good deal on 1:1 might be €120/2x2UI. (i.e., 2x 90 minute teaching blocks per day, with a break in the middle). You are looking at ~€7200k for the tuition, so €2400/month.

To be honest, you can with a little preparation, pass B1 at Goethe Institute's 8-week group course, if you come in with a A1 and A2 levels pretty much okay. That makes B1 easy. The jump to B2 is simply more grammar and vocab.

In my opinion, you are wasting your time and definitely money trying to learn standard German in CH.
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Old 15.08.2016, 11:55
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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You should move to Germany and get 1:1 lessons for 4hrs/day. Get a part time job in a bar in the evening and study for 4hrs/day also.

That will give you around 240hrs of tuition over 12 weeks, along with another 240hrs of study. At 20 words per day, you will learn (let's be generous) around 2000 words after 90 days.

My feeling is, you will easily reach B1 in that time, and would make a fair stab at B2. You need B2 to be able to work but if you go at it intensely in 12 weeks, you would rock through B2 (exam) within another 12 weeks. There is a big jump in the vocabulary. From my recollection you need around 4000 words vocab to be in B2, and it is only around 1000-1500 for B1 level.

Even if you learn the grammar really well, it is simply not possible to genuinely push your vocabulary up quicker than is human.

Cost in another factor. If you want to get through, as quickly as possible (B2 and conversationally fluent in 12 weeks) you will need to spend a lot of money. A good deal on 1:1 might be €120/2x2UI. (i.e., 2x 90 minute teaching blocks per day, with a break in the middle). You are looking at ~€7200k for the tuition, so €2400/month.

To be honest, you can with a little preparation, pass B1 at Goethe Institute's 8-week group course, if you come in with a A1 and A2 levels pretty much okay. That makes B1 easy. The jump to B2 is simply more grammar and vocab.

In my opinion, you are wasting your time and definitely money trying to learn standard German in CH.
Keep in mind that the OP is planning on moving to Switzerland trying to find a job. I don't think that the Swiss care for native German speakers coming in looking for work, but they REALLY don't like native English speakers who not only think they can waltz in and get a job, but that their knowledge of English entitles them to one.

I think the OP will have a better chance at getting a job if he already arrives in Switzerland with at least some knowledge of German and a demonstrable willingness to learn. That will, I believe, cut him a little bit of slack with the locals.

Other people on this forum who have not only taken the trouble to learn both standard German as well as Swiss-German, and actually live in Switzerland will be in a better position to give advice than I am. But I think this one piece of advice will also help. The right attitude will go a long way. For example, take a look at trainspotter's experience here:

What's the point of High German?

Reading that thread, I've come to the conclusion that either he is in the most unfriendliest, inhospitable area of Switzerland that a non-German speaking foreigner would be unlucky enough to live in, or that his attitude is making things much worse than they have to be. I strongly suspect the latter is the case. So I strongly suggest this:

From what I've read, native Swiss in German-speaking Switzerland or "Deutschweiz" might be ABLE to speak High German, but they don't LIKE to do so. So be apologetic when asking them to switch to High German and try using local Swiss-German phrases as soon as, and as often as you can---especially "please", "thank you", and "I'm sorry."

That's about it. Best of luck learning German and starting your new life in Switzerland! It's time for me to go to work in Baltimore...
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Old 15.08.2016, 13:17
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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Dusseldorf is one of the options, I looked at it came up when I googled intensive classes and it's a biggish city with good access to the Netherlands/Belgium and I'd like to maybe visit friends there for a weekend once a month (long distance travel is not included in the budget, don't worry!). I've heard East Germany is cheaper, not sure if it would be a relevant price difference, but definitely open to Berlin or smaller cities, as it's only for a few months I can pretty much adjust to anything.

Honestly: A no brainer... Düsseldorf all the way. The Eastern German cities besides Berlin are surely worth a weekend trip... but their Saxon accent is extremely strong and frankly unbearable to listen to for most Germans.
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Old 15.08.2016, 14:52
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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Dusseldorf is one of the options
The German dialects themselves are divided into multiple 'families', with Alemanic being the one Swiss German belongs to. They differ considerably, this has also some effect on Standard German as its spoken. The light-blue area on this map (the dark-blue area in the center is the Bodensee, lake of Constance) shows where the local dialect is part of the Alemanic family. Note that München/Munich is outside of that area.

An alemanic German understands Swiss German easily. Those from outside of that area have problems, someone from northern Germany or ex-GDR (eastern Germany) doesnt' understand it at all.

Since you will also come into contact with the local dialect during the three months in Germany the more it is like Swiss German the better. Thus you should consider staying in the blue area, the closer to the border the better.
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Old 15.08.2016, 14:59
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

You are the first person ever to recommend a German course in South Western Germany...


It's like saying "oh, you want to work in Dublin? You should go for an English course in Scotland instead of Oxford then..."
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Old 15.08.2016, 15:04
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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The German dialects themselves are divided into multiple 'families', with Alemanic being the one Swiss German belongs to. They differ considerably, this has also some effect on Standard German as its spoken. The light-blue area on this map (the dark-blue area in the center is the Bodensee, lake of Constance) shows where the local dialect is part of the Alemanic family. Note that München/Munich is outside of that area.

An alemanic German understands Swiss German easily. Those from outside of that area have problems, someone from northern Germany or ex-GDR (eastern Germany) doesnt' understand it at all.

Since you will also come into contact with the local dialect during the three months in Germany the more it is like Swiss German the better. Thus you should consider staying in the blue area, the closer to the border the better.
Unless you ever want to work in another part of Germany in the future? Alemanic won´t help you much there
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Old 15.08.2016, 15:52
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Re: Couple of months of intensive German in Germany: good investment?

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Unless you ever want to work in another part of Germany in the future? Alemanic won´t help you much there
Destination is Switzerland
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