If you want to learn a new language, there are most certainly many ways to go about it, there are just three things that you should consider. Your goals, your available time, and your budget!
If you are living in Johannesburg and need help learning German, this should not be difficult. The German community in Johannesburg, which dates back two centuries after an influx of Europeans had their hopes on the Gold Rush, is thriving. This is evident by the fact that Johannesburg is home to an International German School and at least three German clubs located in Edenvale, Sandton, and Johannesburg.
Whether you want to find help learning German for personal, travel, or career reasons, it is an excellent decision considering that it is in the top 10 most widely spoken languages in the world. It is actually spoken by approximately 100 million people all over the globe, and by enrolling in German lessons you will be adding to the 55 million people who speak it as a second language.
Johannesburg is huge, but if you are living in Randburg, you may have already noticed that it is host to a thriving German community. This is evidenced by the many popular places to meet, eat, and hang out in Johannesburg that have a distinctly German flavour.
One of these is Seemann’s Butchery, famed for its wonderful deli. There’s also Schwabinger Stuben, a German restaurant with fantastic reviews. It’s also worth mentioning St Bonifatius Catholic Church where you will find an active German congregation.
If you are in Johannesburg and need help learning German, this article is bound to inspire you and give you a few good tips regarding how to go about that.
Take German Lessons for These Reasons
Never mind the Gold Rush, the South African and German connection goes back much further than that when German immigrants and missionaries settled in the Western Cape during the time of Dutch rule. This is just one of the many reasons why so many South Africans are keen on German lessons. It is so that they can connect with their heritage, and find out more about where they come from. What better way to begin this process than by signing up for German lessons for beginners?
South Africans also take up German lessons for the purpose of traveling. Of course, the better one can speak, read and write German, the more enriching an experience to countries like Austria, Germany, and Switzerland will be. The extent of your travelling will dictate the level of your lessons, if you are going on a short 5-star holiday, German lessons for beginners will suffice. If, however, you are going to be backpacking for a long time, you need more tools, which means you could start with German lessons for beginners, and maybe progress a bit. Remember though, that the quickest way to put your German into practice is to actually immerse yourself in the language through travel overseas.
Connecting with German Permanent Residents in Johannesburg
As already mentioned, there are enough German communities in South Africa for many non-German people to want to communicate better and strengthen relationships with them. The number of German residents in South Africa continues to rise, and this is probably because Germans, who love to travel, fall so in love with South Africa when they visit, that they choose the great lifestyle and climate to be their permanent home.
Further Your Career with German
For many ambitious, business-minded South Africans, having an internationally-spoken international language like German can significantly further a career. If you fall into this category, it may be because you want to gain career experience overseas.
If you would like to work in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, or the UK, German lessons are something you may well want to consider. Why the UK, you may ask. The UK has significant economic alliances with Germany which is also known as the economic strength of Europe.
Working overseas aside, you could benefit from taking German lessons for beginners if you happen to work from one of the 600 German companies based in South Africa. Some of these are blue-chip companies like Beyer, Lufthansa, Siemens, and Volkswagen.
In fact, according to the German Chamber of Commerce in South Africa, fluency in German is a rare but sought-after skill that is needed across a great many industry sectors including tourism and education.
First Language German Medium Schooling in Johannesburg
If you are a German native desiring to send your children to a first language German school, you could consider the Deutsche Internationale Schule which has an excellent reputation and rich history that dates back to its opening in 1897. Offering education for Grades 5 to 12, DSJ is one of the province's most highly regarded academic institutions.
If the school is not an option, you could also reach out to the German Academic Exchange Service who would be able to give good advice if you need help learning German.
Nine of South Africa’s universities offer German as a subject and some of them even offer sought-after exchange programmes with universities in Germany. If this sounds like you, you could look into programmes at North West University, Wits University, and the University of Pretoria for starters.
Enrol in a Language Course at the Goethe Institute
If for any of the reasons mentioned above, you are serious about demonstrating both your proficiency and fluency in German, there is one important step that you should consider. You could obtain an official certificate of recognition for your German skills.
This qualification is the TestDaF for students and TestPro for professionals, both of which are available through the Goethe Institute which measures second language skills against what is called the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFRL).
One of the reasons you would need this is is to gain university entrance in a German-speaking country. This is the exam that shows that you are proficient in German enough to keep up with university-level classes.
The Goethe Institute is the only organisation approved to administer this exam outside of Germany.
Another reason for a CEFRL certification is if you intend to start a business in Germany as you will need to prove the degree of your German capability.
All of this may seem intimidating, but in fact, the Goethe Institute is known to be extremely helpful, especially when their main aim is to ensure that the German language and culture is spread as widely as possible. So for them, your success contributes to their overall mission.
This mission also includes German courses to help prepare you for the qualifying exam.
Immerse Yourself in German with a Language Buddy
When it comes to learning a foreign language, there is no doubt, total language immersion (which usually means a stay in an overseas country) is by far the most effective method. Just imagine, every trip in a taxi, or visit to a deli or coffee shop potentially has the ability to have the same effect as a German lesson in a classroom! Except it will be a lot more fun and you won’t even know that you are learning!
This is why many language students join a university exchange programme in a country where the language of their study is spoken. But you don’t have to be a university student, you could potentially make use of your German ancestral connections to obtain a work visa in Germany as an au pair, or any other job that is keen to hire English speaking people.
Unfortunately, packing up to go and live and work in Germany is not on the cards for every person who needs help learning German. However, finding a native speaking German to become your official language buddy is the next best thing!
Learning any new language needs to come with much practice. Practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. These are all possible with the help of a language buddy.
But where does one find a language buddy? If you don’t already know someone from your community who is a native German and who in turn also wants to, learn English from you, you could ask your network of friends and family if they know anyone.
Alternatively, you could turn to social media to find this person! The benefit of doing it this way is that you can find someone with whom you share the same interest. An example of how to do this would be to follow German Instagram accounts that interest you – this could be German traditional cooking, art, health, football, or anything else. And then just put it out there and comment that you are looking for a German buddy. You will probably find that there are many Germans who would love an English speaking native!
Supplement Your Lessons with Fun Ways to Learn German
Don’t forget that learning a new language takes more than attending classes with your tutor every week, there are many fun ways to supplement your learning in your own time. You can read German blogs, newspapers, and books. You could listen to German podcasts and audiobooks, watch German television, or live stream German radio.
These are all excellent ways to engage your senses and practice some of the critical elements of language acquisition: speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
Some other fun ways to learn German include finding German board games or entertaining online games that provide quizzes to test your knowledge.
The list is endless. You could even grab some sticky notes to place on objects all over the house. In no time at all, you will know that a Kühlschrank is a fridge!
Finding a Private Tutor Near You
Regardless of your reasons for searching German lessons for beginners, the most important thing to ask yourself before committing is whether learning in a group or a one-on-one environment is your preference.
There is no doubt that classroom settings have their benefits, but it is truly private tuition that benefits the individual. This is because you can learn at a time, place, and pace that suits you. Not only that but it also possible to have input into the content so that it is personally tailored to your needs.
If, for example, you are looking for help learning German because your company has organised a secondment to Germany, it would be ideal to find a tutor who could include business vocabulary and phrases into your lessons, especially ones that are suited to your industry.
There are dozens of private tutors in and around Johannesburg. You could search by location and find someone who is in your area or you could choose to learn online. These days all you need is an internet connection and webcam to access the world!
When choosing a tutor, here are a few tips to help you:
- Choose a tutor that is suited to your current level of ability. There’s no need to sign up with a university professor if you want German lessons for beginners that a student could teach you.
- Clearly communicate why you need help learning German. This will save you any misunderstandings down the line.
- Find out about the tutor’s background and experience.
One of the advantages of choosing a Superprof tutor is that many of them offer their first lesson for free. This is an ideal way to find out more about each other before committing to a term of German lessons.
Regarding private tuition, it is much more affordable than people think. For instance, you could find German lessons tutors on Superprof for anything between R120 –R550 per hour depending on the tutor’s qualifications and experience. It all depends on why you want to learn German.
Never forget that every bit of investment into developing your education or knowledge, like picking up a new language, for instance, is never wasted. If you need help learning German in Johannesburg, it is readily available. What are you waiting for? Viel Glük!