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Old 09.02.2012, 12:22
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Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

I'm currently enrolled in the Migros school German A1.2 class because I tested threshold A2/B1 but I have trouble speaking (I can barely say hello) so Migros thought and I thought a Berlitz-type group class lower than "my level" would help me speak more.

I'm really not learning anything in my class right now other than whipping through the written exercises faster than everyone else, and feeling like a doofus because everyone talks better than me. It is a strange feeling to feel smart and stupid at the same time.

I've come to the conclusion that I need a class with a stronger focus on grammar- I think I need to feel more comfortable with what I am saying before I start saying it and Berlitz-style classes ("Just talk and don't think about it too much") just don't mesh with my learning style. When I have private lessons, I also wind up not talking enough to get comfortable, and I find that being in a group helps me to learn from my classmates who generally talk better than me and aren't afraid to make mistakes.

Are there any German schools in Zurich with night classes for grammar nerds where speaking and grammar are given equal weight? I have to decide this week if I want to continue at Migros, and right now I'm not feeling it. The problem is that I really need to work on my speaking- it isn't up to speed at all- but I don't feel comfortable just doing the rota Berlitz-style exercises if I don't know why something is said the way it is.
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Old 09.02.2012, 13:16
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

Some years ago I attended LSI (not far from stadelhofen) and had a german guy who was a good grammar teacher, but not the most friendly/helpful with some of those who struggled with it. I found it suited me well as my profile was very similar to what you describe.

However, it sounds to me what you NEED is to focus on your weak points. My best progress with speaking was not in the classroom (where I found a lot of the spoken exercises seemed to require a degree in spontaneous improvisation/acting) but by meeting my classmates for coffee/lunch after the event.

Sadly, it does not matter what approach you take if like me you eventually leave school and return to fulltime work with non-german speaking colleagues and some years later have once again only the most basic written and spoken skills.
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Old 09.02.2012, 13:25
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

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I'm really not learning anything in my class right now other than whipping through the written exercises faster than everyone else, and feeling like a doofus because everyone talks better than me. It is a strange feeling to feel smart and stupid at the same time.
Oh, I hear you. I had such bad experiences with German classes when I first got here that I chucked it all in and learned on my own. It was quite effective but I do have some interesting holes in my grammar.

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I've come to the conclusion that I need a class with a stronger focus on grammar- I think I need to feel more comfortable with what I am saying before I start saying it and Berlitz-style classes ("Just talk and don't think about it too much") just don't mesh with my learning style. When I have private lessons, I also wind up not talking enough to get comfortable, and I find that being in a group helps me to learn from my classmates who generally talk better than me and aren't afraid to make mistakes.
Others will probably agree that if you wait until you're comfortable, you'll never say anything. It is a tough lesson to learn. Fortunately for me I learned it in South America where people will bend over backwards to try and understand you and are absolutely thrilled that you're trying to speak Spanish (except in Brazil ). Here they look at you like you should be deported because the umlaut on your ü is not recognizable enough - it doesn't make it easy to get up the courage to speak.

You are right, though, about trying to find a teacher who "fits" the way you learn. I highly recommend Bellingua in Zürich. It is not a method school like Berlitz and they only do German. Go by, ask to sit in on a class, talk to the teacher about what you want/need and then decide. This goes for just about any school. I took an intensive prep course for the Uni German exam but in general the students there in all the classes seemed pretty motivated, and not just to speak.

The downside: the course will be much, much more expensive than Berlitz. But, as they say, you (usually) get what you pay for. Good luck!
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Old 09.02.2012, 13:57
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

I started in Migros. I was there for A1.1 and A1.2. It took almost 8-9 months to complete this. I left at the end of A1.2 and I started to study on my own and with also thehelp of a private teacher.
My intention was to complete A1 on my own and start in bellingua on A2 level directly.
Due to problems of agenda, I couldnt continue with the private teacher and I found a suitable course in Alpha for 6 weeks for the A1.3 level reviewing.
So, at this moment I am in the A2.1 level in Bellingua after passing the A1 level exam.

If you want to go fast on grammar, Bellingua is the choice.
They give you quite a lof of homework, the number of students per class is not so big (max 8) and they give the entire level A2 level for instance in 6 months in the semi intensive evening course. 2 times per week. 2 full hours everyday. 1h break 10 min and 1 hour.
Where in most of the other schools or academies each lesson is 40-45 minutes.

Also students are much motivated. I guess the price is also an important factor as it is quite more expensive than Migros. So whoever decides to go there, it is because he has good interest in learning.

Migros, I dont think it is an option if you want to learn german fast. Too many students, many of them not motivated and way too long to finish each module.

Now in Bellingua I am quite happy with the pace of the lessons but I am very disappointed with the conversational level. My reading and my writting is improving fast but my capacity to speak it is still limited.

The 6 weeks I was in Alpha Sprachestudio, I found the conversational level exceptional. I did the final part of the A1.3 there and the conversational level of most students was quite high.

They focus much more on speaking the language but the pace for the number of modules and grammar is not as fast as bellingua. All the resources learnt untill that moment, they were able to use it.
In bellingua I feel I know more than what I can speak.

So, I can recommend you Alpha for a bit slower pace on the grammar but really good conversation at a more affordable cost of bellingua which is quite more expensive than Alpha or Migros.

My 2 cents,

Regards,
Jacobo.
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Old 09.02.2012, 14:06
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

A few years ago, I studied to B2 at Allegra in Loewenstrasse. I hated the course as it was mainly grammar and all I want is to speak the language, even badly. I don't care....neither do most Swiss it would seem

It may suit you....
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Old 09.02.2012, 18:35
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

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You are right, though, about trying to find a teacher who "fits" the way you learn.
This is probably what is really going on- I'm not feeling the way my current teacher teaches.
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Old 09.02.2012, 19:04
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

And that is sooo important. And yet, in a way you've answered your own question by saying you can barely say a word, but whips through Grammar exercises at the rate of knots. Which indicates that you should find a course and a teacher that will allow you to get over that fear of speaking (and possibly the fear instilled in you about making mistakes). Bonne chance.
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Old 09.02.2012, 22:50
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

Nikole, Hi again!

you know grammar ( individual components such as prep, verbs, conjnctions, articles, cases), may be you are just stuggling to put them alogether to make a meaningful statements. ¨
My simple advice would be to learn in details how german statements are structured ( position of verb, where can you fit prepositional phrase etc) knowing different structures might just give you a channel to express grammar you know or might learn in future.
In my current class A2 Migros Klubschule, I am focussing on knowing grammatic nuances and why the statement was build in such a way.

Just 2 cents. Happy learning.
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Old 09.02.2012, 22:56
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

I am a language teacher but not German. I suggest that you ring up some other schools and stress that you want to improve your spoken skills as well as focussing on the grammar. Ask them what method they use and then ask to sit in on a class or different classes because learning a language is also about feeling comfortable with your teacher.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:23
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

Why don't you just throw yourself in at the deep end and start practise talking to people? I have just overcome that mental hurdle and am now trying to engage in what small conversations I can: at the Doctors, at the Supermarket, with a neighbour, etc. I find that once you're in that frame of mind, you sort of go into auto-pilot and the stuff that you've learnt in class tends to come automatically, albeit incorrectly sometimes, but practise makes perfect as they say.

When I learnt my last language, I didn't really learn it in the classroom. I learnt it in talking to neighbours, and in the conversations with taxi drivers, and the assistants at the supermarkets, etc.

Practise makes perfect!

Kash.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:35
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

I'm enrolled with TLC (The Language Company) in Baden doing a semi-intensive morning course (5 hours per week). I know it isn't Zurich, but I know they have schools in other towns as well and may have one in Zurich. An IR train from Zurich HB to Baden takes about 20-25 minutes.

I've found the course to be excellent and there are a few students in my class who have switched to TLC from Migros and been very happy with the move.

TLC are pricey, because they limit class sizes to 5-8 students, but I've found the balance of writing / reading / listening / speaking to be very impressive. I, too, have found writing German easier than listening/speaking (I think being an English native speaker helps with this bent), but by participating the gap is slowly closing. There are a lot of spoken games (going round the class, different dialogues) and our teacher is very good about letting the more confident students go first so that the less confident speakers can listen, observe and figure out what's going on before giving it a go (which definitely helps me!). There's also a focus on a few basic sentence structures / grammar rules which are really drilled home and allow you to do quite a lot with short sentences.

I'm just finishing my third month of classes and although I feel I have a long way to go with my German, I'm very happy with how I'm doing given that I have only been learning German for a short time.

Not sure if this is the sort of course that you're after, but I've been very impressed by how it has worked for me.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:52
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

Nicole, I've been with Bellingua for the past 4 weeks. I come from a zero High German background. My SwissGerman is picked up from the radio, streets etc. Basically I wanted a new start with High German so I started in Bellingua at A1.

After 4 weeks, I am able to introduce myself, ask simple questions (formally/informally), conjugate verbs (throw me any! ) do basic sentence structure construction - the basics. But yes, grammar is emphasised there. Everything in class will be in German and you will be encouraged to speak and the teacher will correct your grammar if there is anything dodgy with it.

My husband who is B1 with Bellingua now but did his A1 somewhere else was surprised at the speed but structure my class is progressing. I even braved the shops and tried constructing a few sentences out of what I learnt from class - I think it was a success because they understood me completely.

I personally cannot recommend Bellingua highly enough. Price is not cheap. But you are allowed two weeks grace period before you commit to more lessons.

We had a relief teacher (teacher was sick on monday) and a change of teacher (to be fair, the original one did tell us that she was only there for the first 3 weeks) - all of them are professional and very good.

The homework for a semi intensive (twice a week, 3 hours each time) is not funny. Be prepared to invest an additional 4-5 hours on top of class doing homework and trying to go through what you've learnt during class.

PM me if you want to know more.
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Last edited by summerrain; 10.02.2012 at 01:05.
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Old 11.02.2012, 23:21
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Re: Group German class in Zurich focusing more on grammar?

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I'm currently enrolled in the Migros school German A1.2 class because I tested threshold A2/B1 but I have trouble speaking (I can barely say hello) so Migros thought and I thought a Berlitz-type group class lower than "my level" would help me speak more.

I'm really not learning anything in my class right now other than whipping through the written exercises faster than everyone else, and feeling like a doofus because everyone talks better than me. It is a strange feeling to feel smart and stupid at the same time.

I've come to the conclusion that I need a class with a stronger focus on grammar- I think I need to feel more comfortable with what I am saying before I start saying it and Berlitz-style classes ("Just talk and don't think about it too much") just don't mesh with my learning style. When I have private lessons, I also wind up not talking enough to get comfortable, and I find that being in a group helps me to learn from my classmates who generally talk better than me and aren't afraid to make mistakes.

Are there any German schools in Zurich with night classes for grammar nerds where speaking and grammar are given equal weight? I have to decide this week if I want to continue at Migros, and right now I'm not feeling it. The problem is that I really need to work on my speaking- it isn't up to speed at all- but I don't feel comfortable just doing the rota Berlitz-style exercises if I don't know why something is said the way it is.
I right now give German lessons to a lady from Latin America, who does not hesitate to speak in German, but whose grammar and structure in German was a bit of a mess, and so, I concentrated my efforts on grammar. Many German teachers, even North Germans, however have a meagre command of grammar and so rather avoid than tackle grammar which is widely regarded as boring, while it is the skeleton of a language. I do not believe that there are any schools with "Deutsche Grammatik" classes, while there are teachers who give more or less emphasis to grammar.

What you mention about your talking problem in fact obviously is a mental and psychological problem. You possibly when going to such places like those lessons should relax more and take it easier. I in secondary class had a teacher who, under a bit "shady" pretenses on specific days picked on me and "condemned" me to an "extra-hour" after 4pm. It was his Italian lesson, he gave me some nice stuff to work on, which I even could take home with me. And then, as he knew that I from holidays had quite some command in practical Italian, when those students got "stucked" suddenly asked me "how would YOU say it" and I then replied "well, simply ........" . And I took the most simple way possible. Which, as Dr.Dr. R.M. stated, was THE way to go. So, back again, relax and take it easy. Do not try to be perfect, but try to communicate. Do not feel frustrated when/if the teacher corrects you.

Last edited by Wollishofener; 11.02.2012 at 23:46.
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