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Old 10.01.2012, 01:04
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[German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

First off - Sorry for the long post.

So here's the situation...

1. 10 year old GCSE A grade.
2. Evaluated by well-known school last week - A1.3 level suggested.
3. Very busy job, not a great deal of cash.

Goal - Comfortable conversational german by 2013....HELP!

Ideally - I'm looking for a pretty intensive course (3-5 x per week) for as long as I can stand it; from experience, twice weekly isn't quite enough for me to progress. Unfortunately, I have a very busy job, and thus can't really afford more than 2-2.5h per evening (or early morning) no matter how understanding my employer is.

I've looked at an endless number of intensive courses, but they're either only twice a week (is that really intensive?), too many hours/day or really expensive (Bellingua..). I'm also keen to start learning asap and don't want to wait a month or so to really start learning again.

I'm also a bit confused on the levels e.g. A1.1-3, A2.1 etc. For example, I've seen the following courses

http://www.eb-zuerich.ch/kursprogram...ensiv-1-1.html

and

http://www.flyingteachers.com/language-courses.html

which seem ideal, but I'm not exactly sure of the differences between A1.3 and A2 (is it huge?!). The schools seem to a be a little coy on telling me exactly what's covered within each level. As I have three years of school learning (albeit a long time ago), I don't want to sign up for a course if I've previously studied the material and just need to refresh it in my brain, this is guaranteed to kill my motivation.

In short, I'm happy to spend 5-600 CHF/month for lessons in the long term, and can probably add another few 100s to that for the first few important months. The big deal for me is efficiency (due to my working schedule), and that it doesn't cost the bank (I'm paying for this myself). So...if you were me, and had my goals...how would you go about starting this process? Private lessons (expensive?) to get to a certain standard, followed by courses? Accept that I'll be re-learning things and get on to a course from the start...

Any advice is greatly appreciated - this decision is driving me mad!!
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Old 10.01.2012, 01:19
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

Personally speaking I found 2 x 2 hours a week very intensive .. because in between times you want to fit in time to do the exercises and the work sheets, learn the grammar, listen to the audio material that accompanies the course, practice a little on real life people/situations. To really learn a language well, I think every class hour needs to be backed up with at least 1to 4 hours of language absorption/practice. In reality people often do not have the self discipline to do this, but without it, your language acquisition could well stagnate, particularly if you do not have the opportunity to use your language much.

Courses worked well for me .. I enjoyed the motivation of others learning around me. But I've never had private lessons so cannot make the comparison.

Do you speak German in your job? That could be really handy for practice ...
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Old 10.01.2012, 11:42
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

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Personally speaking I found 2 x 2 hours a week very intensive .. because in between times you want to fit in time to do the exercises and the work sheets, learn the grammar, listen to the audio material that accompanies the course, practice a little on real life people/situations. To really learn a language well, I think every class hour needs to be backed up with at least 1to 4 hours of language absorption/practice. In reality people often do not have the self discipline to do this, but without it, your language acquisition could well stagnate, particularly if you do not have the opportunity to use your language much.

Courses worked well for me .. I enjoyed the motivation of others learning around me. But I've never had private lessons so cannot make the comparison.

Do you speak German in your job? That could be really handy for practice ...

Well, it tends to be english when I'm around, but everyone at work is a fluent german speaker, and they'd have no problems speaking that to me exclusively.

The only trouble I have with a twice-weekly course is that I don't have the excuse to put german before work unless there's a specific lesson to attend I can foresee myself missing out on sessions/excercises unless I have that class scheduled and agreed-upon by my boss.
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Old 10.01.2012, 11:48
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

I am currently with Bellingua. They do intensive Mon-Fri if you are up for the challenge. Cost wise, the more lessons you sign up for, the cheaper it gets. They also offer a 10% discount on the lessons if you commit to no cancellation (you usually have that option but no guts, no glory eh!) which might work out cheaper than you originally think.

I found them to be extremely helpful and open about their course structure when I was shopping around - even financial payments wise. Relook at them and it might not be as expensive as you think.

(no, I dont work for Bellingua!)

Alternatively, check this place out: http://www.swissing.ch/

A friend of mine did conversational Swiss German lessons with them and has high praise.
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Old 10.01.2012, 11:52
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

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how would you go about starting this process?
get a German (not: Swiss) girlfriend. Spend the money on flowers for her.
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Old 10.01.2012, 12:03
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

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Well, it tends to be english when I'm around, but everyone at work is a fluent german speaker, and they'd have no problems speaking that to me exclusively.

The only trouble I have with a twice-weekly course is that I don't have the excuse to put german before work unless there's a specific lesson to attend I can foresee myself missing out on sessions/excercises unless I have that class scheduled and agreed-upon by my boss.
But you have time (say in the evening) to do some "homework"? My own experience is that if you do not put in the time to learn the adjective endings, the verb declensions, the articles etc etc, then your German will always be shot through with errors. (I know this because mine is!) But having said that, you do say you have done German at school, so you should have a minimum basis of "learnt off by heart" grammar which is a great start.
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Old 10.01.2012, 12:33
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

Sign up for the free placement test you see on the right-side column:

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/0,,13228,00.html#

Then proceed as intended.
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Old 10.01.2012, 13:44
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

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get a German (not: Swiss) girlfriend. Spend the money on flowers for her.
As understanding as my girlfriend has been in allowing me to move here - she might draw the line at this.... Nice suggestion though
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Old 10.01.2012, 13:51
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

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But you have time (say in the evening) to do some "homework"? My own experience is that if you do not put in the time to learn the adjective endings, the verb declensions, the articles etc etc, then your German will always be shot through with errors. (I know this because mine is!) But having said that, you do say you have done German at school, so you should have a minimum basis of "learnt off by heart" grammar which is a great start.
I can put aside an hour or so each evening/afternoon for homework etc...but I'm looking to improve as quickly as possible, so I'm looking for ways I can increase the 'learning time' either by an intensive course, or private lessons etc. As much as I'd love to have the time/dedication to put in extra hours myself, work will always come first unless there's a dedicated time slot.

From what I've seen, the going rate for private lessons is around 100 CHF/h?
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Old 10.01.2012, 23:05
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Re: [German] So...spend my money; help me on my way...

There's ECAP. 330Fr for 40 hrs IIRC.

Twice a week, 2 lessons per session. So 4 lessons a week.

I don't think spending more hours for classes would help much if you have gone over the threshold. There's only so much you could possibly learn. The key here is to use the lingo everyday.
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