How Do I Choose the Best German Language Courses?

C. Mitchell

The best way to choose German language courses is to identify what exactly it is that you are looking for in language training, and then identifying courses that meet that criteria. There are many different options when it comes to German language training. From full immersion programs abroad to intensive university seminars, semester-long courses, and online instruction, there is something to suit nearly every need and schedule. Identifying the “best” courses is usually primarily a matter of determining what is best for you.

The German flag.
The German flag.

There are many reasons to learn German, and a number of classes are usually available for each. Casual travelers, for instance, might want to learn just enough to get around on a vacation in Germany. A businessmen negotiating deals with German corporations might want a deeper knowledge, just as a person hoping to read the masterpieces of German literature in their original tongue would need a more academic, vocabulary-centered course. Determining exactly what it is that you want to achieve is the first step to choosing German language courses.

Next, think about setting. If you are in college or university, choosing the best German language courses is usually as simple as registering for a class with a respected professor, or taking a placement exam in order to be assigned to a course at your experience level. Some colleges and universities will allow non-students to take German language classes on campus, often on a no-credit or audit basis, but not all do.

A community college is usually a better, and often much less expensive, place for adult learners to receive college-level German language training. Many community colleges offer accelerated programs, or offer classes on the evenings or on weekends so as to fit into professionals’ schedules. Depending on the school, classes geared specifically to travel, business, and basic grammar may be offered, allowing students even more opportunity to choose the course that is right for them.

Learning German is not something that must be done in a classroom, however. Many different online programs give students the opportunity to learn language skills in a variety of settings, usually on a personalized time table. Depending on the program, online chats with instructors, interactive lessons, and virtual “speaking groups” are all a part of the process. Some online courses are sponsored by universities, but most are from private entities. Before enrolling in an online course, it is a good idea to research the sponsor’s philosophy, teaching methods, and supporting materials to be sure that it will be a good fit.

Another option is an immersion course. Some schools and private language institutes offer full immersion German language courses, where adult students can live abroad for a period of time and attend intensive language courses. These are usually among the most expensive options, but are usually also some of the most effective at helping students quickly and confidently begin speaking German. They can usually be tailored to fit within a certain vacation schedule, and are offered multiple times each year in a variety of locations.

Choosing the best German language courses is, at its core, a matter of understanding both what you want and what is available. If you can, talk to professors or admissions representatives of any classes that you are considering to get a better sense of the course and its contours. Take a look at any assigned books, and ask pointed questions about how an offered course can help you to meet your goals.

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