german language

5 Reasons why Tandems Don't Work

Find a German tandem partner
die Wippe – the see-saw / Image by Pixabay

A German Tandem Partner is hard to find

One of the most common complaints of German learners is that it is so hard to get to know Germans to practice with. And they are right. But let‘s be honest: would you want to be abused for language practice? Read on to find out how to get in touch with Germans.

 Would you like to talk to someone that staggers around for seconds until s/he finds the right word or phrase or constantly makes mistakes that require a lot of concentration from you? Don‘t mistake this as a blame on your language skills. We all start a new language like this. And you have my absolute compassion and support. I guess you understand what I am aiming at.

Search for Purpose

If your main aim was just to get to know someone with whom you could exchange ideas and views, emotions and experiences than you‘d look for someone speaking English. Now many language learning ,experts‘ recommend to find a German tandem* partner to practice with. I did that, too, before and if you like it, go for it. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. But I often find that learners either don‘t have the time nor the desire to meet someone just for this purpose. And also half of the time would be speaking in your mother tongue and be lost for you (while the other half is lost to the other person). There are a few other flaws that I would like you to consider:

Tandems are boring

Conversation needs common interests. Simply wanting to learn a language is too little exciting to hold a relationship on an interesting level for a longer period of time. Even if you pick some topics to ,discuss‘ with limited conversational skills it would still be artificial and feel unnatural. I once had a Turkish-German tandem but she was only interested in Turkish soap operas, tennis and complaining about the bad weather in Germany. And I simply wasn‘t too much into sports. For a tandem to be efficient you would have to meet at least 2 to 3 times a week. Imagine meeting someone you don‘t have much in common with that often.

Tandems are not for free

Then there is the time and money you will need you would have to meet somewhere and most likely spend half an hour going there and another half hour going back. So assuming you meet for about an hour -plus 15 minutes not to end the conversation abruptely- a tandem meeting would take you 2 hours and 15minutes. Assume you drink two coffees during this time you‘d spend 5€ + 5€ for the train tickets. Supposed you would meet in a café half way, that would make up to 100€ monthly if you met 2-3 times a week as recommended before. << Continue on the next page .>>

Tandems need to match

If your foreign language skills are not the same level, your tandem is doomed to bore the more skilled one of you very quickly while making the slower one feel bad. Also what level you think you need to be to be able to have a conversation? Or are you going to (ab)use your tandem as a teacher? Is that his or her special skill then? Having a bad teacher is worse than having none, unless you try to learn all by yourself without really knowing how. The result of that can be seen in this video

From B1 on you will be able to have slow but more interesting conversations. Anything below that is a strain for all who take part in it.

Tandems require a lot of discipline

Not only needs the speaking time to be under control but also switching between languages has to be kept to a minimum. It can and should never be totally avoided as it is natural to use one‘s own language as a helper in times of need. And after an exhausting workday, keeping your appointment with a tandem is much more difficult than with a professional that charges you for his or her time. Also the professional has a better ear for what needs to be worked on and should have the appropriate material for you at hand to work it out.

 So what are the alternatives, then?

We have a saying in Germany and I can only state its validity when it comes down to German learning: Was nichts kostet ist nichts wert. If it‘s free, it isn‘t any good. Pay someone to listen to your still broken German and make them tell you when you make a mistake. And you shall become aware of things you use wrongly repeatedly and look them up later on.

Don‘t worry, you wouldn‘t have to pay 30€ or more for someone professional. There are platforms where people are giving away their time for 12€ or even less. These might not be the most experienced ones but they might be motivated to become one of these. And they are interested in improving their skills as teachers. But at least you wouldn‘t have to talk English for half of the time making one lesson with the paid folks twice as valuable as a tandem session. And remember the costs for the drinks. That‘s 8€ alone, not counting the trip-costs. Also these session could take place via Skype and you would also save the way time. On the next page you will find several links that will help you to find a practice partner.

UPDATE: Especially when you are a beginner, you will not need more than 15-20 minutes of speaking from your side. So you should try to arrange shorter meetings with your paid or your German tandem partner. That is not only way more efficient, costs a lot less in case you chose the paid option but also makes and keeps the meetings more interesting. Many professional tutors might not be keen on just spending 15mins per day with you but don’t give up. Plus you don’t need the best tutor in the world for this. Anyone willing to talk and correct your German every now and then will do. Natives are a must though.

You might want to take a look at the following platforms and let us know about your experience one day.




Conversation Exchange

Toytown Germany

My Language Exchange

Erste NachhilfeTandem



Sprachenzentrum of the Free University Berlin

Tandembörse of the Humboldt University

BerlinSprach- und Kulturbörse of the Technical University

BerlinZems of the Technical University Berlin

That should do for the beginning. You might also look for a “cheap” [anything from 5-20€ is cheap] teacher on these pages: (very affordable tutors and enthusiasts and the option to network with other German learners, see my review here -LINK FOLLOWS)


google helpouts (some charge by the minute, that’s perfect)



German Online School

Online German Tutor




Either way. I wish you success and that you find a way to practice and improve your German quickly and satisfyingly.

  • A language exchange partner with whom you meet to speak 30mins of German and 30mins of English (or other available language)
Find a German tandem partner
german language

The Berlitz Diet*

Only speaking German in the classroom should be a crime
das Gurkenglas – the pickle jar / Image by Ryan McGuire via Pixabay

„One does not need a diet when learning German, one needs to feast on the abundant knowledge available.“

We all have a natural desire to fully express ourselves. Learning a new language forces us to suppress this desire as we suddenly don‘t have the tools (words & grammar) to do so anymore. This state has to be resolved as soon as possible and not artificially be prolonged by ignoring one‘s intellectual skills and prior knowledge.

A Short trip to Absurdistan

From an adult German learner’s point it is more than absurd to be instructed exclusively in German, the langue s/he does not yet understand sufficiently. The consequences are an immense setback in learning speed and a significant increase in frustration. This most likely causes many students to give up on learning German prematurely and increases the costs until a noteworthy language level is reached.

I consider the approach to use solely the target language (here: German) a crime to reason and logic and a lack of respect for the learner’s intelligence, time and financial resources. Let me explain what happens when you learn a new language and why I oppose the above strategy used by -mostly likely- any language school here in Germany; Berlitz with being the most prominent one, but also Goethe, Inlingua and the Volkshochschule teach solely based on German as the language of instruction.

I know that I don‘t know

When you learn something new as an adult, you always first try to connect it to something that you already know. That‘s why it is e.g. easier for you to acquire more information on a topic that you are familiar with than on something totally new to you. Unfortunately we are not born with German language skills in specific so we would have to acquire it like anything else: by connecting it to something that we already know. The good news is that there are already many connections between English and German and quite a few other languages due to a similar development and common history but now imagine that you wouldn‘t be allowed to make use of these connections.

They don’t want us to know

You have to ignore all the given and incredibly helpful similarities between German and English because… well, yes, because why? Because at that time when this hurtful idea gained currency, people believed in behaviorism, a theory that led to the consequence, that certain people believed learning a language can be achieved by drilling patterns and repetition and that motivation can be heightened by reinforcing correct answers with praise. Understanding through conclusion or explanation played a subordinate role for these people. Remember that we are talking about learning a language, one of civilization‘s highest achievements and quite a complex skill that aims at understanding. Now, how does one reach understanding without understanding a thing?

Little strokes fell big oaks

Berlitz teachers (and most others) mainly work with  a method best describe as ‘show and tell’ which is most likely the only possible method at the beginning as one is not allowed to use translation as a means of instruction. They even have their own picturebooks for this. Carefully the teacher introduces a few new words and a simple structure, practices these with the students and finally let‘s them speak the learned words before they move on to the next set of words and later on to a bit more complex structure. Not a single word of English is spoken, not a grain of grammar is explained or put into reference to the mother tongue’s grammar. The reflection about grammar is  being discouraged by most representatives of this approach.

What am I paying for again?

That means that the students are actually doing all the work on their own by guessing what the teacher’s instructions and sharades might mean and by memorizing a handful of  words solely with the help of drawn pictures in the teacher‘s picture book. Of course you’d also listen to and repeat what the teacher is prompting you. Writing during the lesson is not encouraged though, neither the use of dictionaries. I could go on (sigh). This reminds me of Waldorf-pedagogy, where it is assumed that the young child should learn through imitation rather than conclusion. It is needless to say that the latter is by far outmatching the former when it comes to efficiency. I haven’t researched on any studies yet, that prove that this method to aquire vocabulary and grammar stands out significantly from any other, justifying the effort and strain put onto the student but I dare to assume that this is not the fastest nor most efficient way of learning a foreign language.

The Berlitz Diet

Now to the term ,Berlitz Diet‘. You might see that this approach requires learning material reduced to very tiny steps and of such simplicity that the topics that students have to work through for months(!) are most likely mind-numbing and ignoring any cognitive skill one might (hopefully) have acquired over the past years. While it is clear that Goethe is not a lecture suitable for a beginner of German, sentences like ,Der Tisch ist groß.‘ or ,Ich lege den Apfel auf den Tisch‘ in all possible variations are not causing any arousal nor motivation to bother with them for longer than necessary either.

Interim Conclusion

We all have a natural desire to fully express ourselves. Learning a new language forces us to suppress this desire as we don’t have the tools (words & grammar) to do so anymore. This state has to be resolved as soon as possible and not artificially be prolonged by ignoring one’s intellectual skills and prior knowledge. This can only be achieved by making use of all available resources on the learner’s side. And one of the greatest and most valuable ressources is the mother tongue. That we anyhow always refer to, even if the instructions are ignoring it.

We are not children anymore. And even they need 10-13 years to become very proficient in a language. I wouldn’t want to wait that long to be honest. As an adult I can learn much faster and more efficient than a child. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The only way to learn German very quickly is having a teacher who besides some learning techniques explains the German structure to you by showing you where it resembles your mother tongue and not by letting you guess the obvious, slowly and painfully. 

The downside to democracy

So why is it then that in -most likely- all language schools in Germany, German is taught in German?

Well, if I put together 20 students from all over the world, with 20 different educational backgrounds and 20 different goals etc. I will have to speak the only language that they all have in common: German. They all equally don‘t understand. That makes it the most democratic teaching method of all times.

Everybody is starting at zero (language wise). And I would want that many students in my class, because they all pay about 200€ – 1000€ monthly for half a year and with a bit of luck for another 3 months. Do the math and be amazed.

Teachers can’t be bothered!?

Then there is the teacher. He or she would have to speak at least advanced English to instruct you properly on how to learn German. While with English this might not be the biggest issue – it’s quite common among the teaching folks to be fluent in English to a sufficient degree- but now imagine having to instruct in three to ten different languages. Do you think anyone that capable would work for 15-25€ per hour? Then while having to talk only in German on the one hand seems very convenient for a German teacher and widens the range of possible employees for the schools,  on the other hand  it requires very good teaching skills and a solid self-esteem from them or all those clueless faces in front of them will wear them out sooner or later. Most of my former colleagues were burned out or at least very close to it. I myself burned out last year partly due to these circumstances and I consider my teaching skills to be on expert level. But I will share my burnout experience that led to my professional liberation in another post with you (link follows).

I think I have made my point and you get the idea of why forcing students to ignore their most valuable resource -their mother tongue- is irresponsible.

The Smarter Diet

I claim that Berlitz has become a legend most probably because they were at the right place at the right time. Please note that I do not criticize the service quality or the good intentions of the folks over at Berlitz (or any other school mentioned before). But I can safely say that they could work much more efficiently if they allowed English to be used as an instructional language and also schooled their teachers in memory techniques. Of course that would require a major change of their company structure and is unlikely to happen anytime soon. When you want to learn German, don’t go on an intellectual diet. ‘Learn’ how and what you like and enjoy the pleasures of growing knowledge and capability to deal with things in a new, exciting language. You will feel a lot better and your German skills and your self-confidence will improve noticeably. Learning German can be a great pleasure, don’t let anyone spoil it.

With these words… Much success in your endeavour.

Michael Schmitz

* As much as I would like to take credit for it, the name ‘Berlitz Diet’ is not my invention. I read it in an essay by Wolfgang Butzkamm, one of my few inspirers in the strive for better language teaching. You might want to read his article here which is going a bit deeper than mine and although being scientific is a pleasure to read.

Only speaking German in the classroom should be a crime
german language

The (R)evolution of Language Learning

The Future of Language Learning lies in the Individualization of the Learning Process
der Liegestuhl – the deck chair / Image via Pixabay

When former student of mine and upcoming journalist Paris Karagounis (you can find him on or as his friends know him better: Πάρις Καραγκούνης contacted me for an interview I was curious about the outcome of this encounter. It wasn’t planned that much, so we rather went wherever the caffeine would lead us to and sat together for about three hours talking about Berlin, the right attitude of learners but above all teachers and the (r)evolution of language learning. We touched topics like the meaning of immigration and the role of digital media compared to the importance of printwork (they read books in the former ages).

Out came an accurate and very down to the point article that -as far as I understood google translate- I can truly agree with. I am thankful for this opportunity, dear Paris and wish you a lot of success in your career and life. Eucharisto.

The Future of Language Learning lies in the Individualization of the Learning Process
german language

Books to learn German

easy reader german
das Regal – the shelf / Image by geralt via Pixabay

You might have found out by now that I am a strong supporter of private tuition when it comes to German learning. And while the the books to learn German that I am going to review here are surely well produced and most likely follow some sound logic, it will turn out that working with them isn’t the best choice you can make. But on the other hand they are the most economical option… for the teacher slash school.

When you sit in a language class here in Berlin, you share your teacher with people from all over the planet. When you learn German in your country you probably sit in class with people that share your cultural background but not necessarily the same level of education or professional experience. And what’s almost for sure is that not two of you will have the same goal concerning learning German.

Now let’s take a look at the content of some books to learn German that are used in language schools not only in Germany. I’d like to ask a few questions to begin with:

  • When was the last time you wrote a postcard?
  • When was the last time you went to a hotel?
  • Are you interested in camping?
  • Would you enjoy to go to a (German) theatre play?
  • How often do you talk about your flat or furniture?
  • Do you think workers in a tourist office should be able to understand English?
  • What is it with the weather?
  • What’s your favorite food and who might be interested in your answer?
  • Would you like to know and try some weird German dishes?
  • When will you publish your first news-article or German ad?
  • Are you maybe interested in history?

I could continue for a while but let’s not go wild, yet. These are only a few questions that I figure should interest you if you decide to learn with those books that I’ve reviewed as these are the topics they cover (among a few! others, that make far more sense.) If you are not interested in these topics, the question is, why should you bother dealing with them?

Don’t misunderstand me. The authors of these books  wanted to cover a vast variety of topics to please as many learners as possible and also to make it more interesting I suppose. Which is the right thing to do… if you have to please tens of thousands of people with different goals learning together in groups. To me it doesn’t make much sense to prepare for as many possible situations that we might find ourselves in one day. What makes sense is to take what is there or at least what is reoccurring pretty regularly and learn how to handle that in German as soon as possible.

What’s the sense of being able to read flat-ads if I have already found one for the next year (or half)? And I am sure that when I have to look for them again, the necessity to find a roof and my dictionary will help me out here pretty quickly. What if I have kids? I love to talk with and about my son, e.g. I didn’t find anything in these books.

We are complex being with a high demand for meaningful things. It is painful to waste time with ‘belanglos’* stuff. I personally would like to read interesting short stories right from the beginning. Watch that German Tatort everybody seems to be crazy about and I haven’t written a postcard in ten years (might be twenty).

You get the idea, I hope. It’s not the books that are the problem here, it’s the system of putting plenty of wildly mixed together people together into one room and try to prepare them for about 40 different situations that might or might not concern them…ever. In case you learn German outside of Germany, you might even need less topics covered in these books. It is just ridiculous, I’m sorry. You wouldn’t buy forty different kinds of beverages on stock so you can offer that one special drink to the one guest once a year demanding it.

Stay out of class and hire a private tutor for the same money. Maybe 60 mins twice a week. Get some material that seems interesting and useful for you and a grammar reference using your native-language to explain certain basic structures (no exercises needed). Check out ‘Deutsche Welle German Courses’ as they offer great material for free. It’s like the German BBC. And most important: look for two or three tandem partners (if you can afford the time but at least one). I promise you, you will learn German in much less time than in that school you were thinking of.

In any case, I wish you success in your endeavor to learn German. It’s a lovely language and an even more lovely country (mostly).

With kind regards



Take a look yourself at the content of some of the more popular books and check if what they offer is of your liking:

Studio D




Tangram Aktuell

Themen Aktuell




easy reader german
german language german online courses

Careful with German Audio Courses

German Audio Courses
die Taste – the button / Image via Pixabay

German Audio Courses: Simple Doubts

You might have heard of Pimsleur, Michel Thomas, Rocketgerman. These are language audio courses that are – not to leave any doubt about it – very professionally designed and Michel Thomas courses are actually quite useful,  but in my very own opinion they all suffer from the same fundamental flaw: They don‘t work the way their producers claim they do and I have serious doubts about the promised results. To be honest, there is no such thing as a clearly defined result, but more about this later on.

Click to find out about
German grammar course video
German grammar for beginners A1 online


I was lucky to have friends from America who would let me borrow their material which covered most parts of the products offered by the beforementioned companies. While most where German, I managed to get a grip on the Pimsleur Hebrew I course. I didn‘t check the online material and don‘t want to for reasons that will be explained in another post.


Let‘s take a look at the promises about the audio courses made by the language learning experts named above:
Thomas says that ,you’ll listen, absorb, then speak. It simply works like magic‘ and you‘ll ,pick up a new language naturally – just as you learned your own.‘ With them it‘ll take you ,hours, not years.‘ to learn a new language.

Pimsleur claim that their courses are ,purchased by the FBI‘ and that ,there was no struggling with grammar or worrying about the accent – you just spoke‘ when you were a child and learned your mothertongue. They also ,don‘t‘ want you to ,worry about Grammar‘, because ,grammar varies enormously from one language to another. So the grammar you absorbed as a child without thinking may not be much help.‘

Rocketlanguages ,reduces your learning time by up to 50%‘ and at the same time ,sound Like You ARE a Native German Speaker‘.


To summarize: Grammar is something to avoid – One can learn a language in half the time – We should learn like a child to speed things up. – Sounding like a native is a piece of cake.


Debunking the myths

None of the claims above stands a closer look. Some of them are even remnants of the late sixties, the age of superlearning and LSD. They‘ve got nothing to do with modern science. Let me take them apart for you.


Grammar is good

Grammar is never the sole purpose of any language class unless it‘s a grammar crash course. It is a description of recurring patterns, which, when understood, help you to create words and sentences on your very own without having learned them before. This is a great gain and most probably frees a lot of brain capacity compared to memorizing each sentence that is about to be spoken by you. Grammar doesn‘t have to be complicated but I admit that in most cases it is presented in a rather uncharming way. But that‘s what I am here for.



Well half the time of what? Neither of the above companies say what level you are reaching with any of their courses – or I just haven‘t digged deep enough into their webpages. There is internationally acclaimed reference criteria like the CEF (German: GER) and most probably they have something similar overseas. But why can‘t I find anything about that on their pages?

It takes 600 lessons in average to reach B1 in intensive classes. With private teachers that are able to respond individually to my strengths and weak spots it might be 300 only. German audio courses can‘t respond at all. Pimsleur claims to cover 120 half hour? lessons when you purchase levels I to IV but name no goal. Thomas sells about 30 hours of audio not naming the amount of lessons and Rocketlanguages sells 32 lessons of 25 mins adding up to 12 hours. By the way. These are ,interactive‘ lessons which means that you listen to them and speak after them (or before). Pretty ,interactive‘ right? Neihter of the last two names a clearly defined goal.


Why goals are so important

Well, no goal, no control. You‘ll speak fluent and in half the time. Half of what? How fluent? There are immense differences between the levels of fluency clearly defined by the CEF for example. If you know that standard classes take 600 lessons, why not measure the success of my clients with an official test which could be done online and then based on that claim to be faster than the norm.


Why oh Why?

Without knowing where it leads you, why would you buy such a thing? Would you buy a remedy prescribed by a self-proclaimed health-expert that claims to heal everybodys headache with an undefined dose?


Learn like a child

As mentioned in the introduction, this idea is still popular probably thanks to Berlitz and Inlingua who still base their lessons on this scientifically proven untrue claim.

We don‘t learn like children once we have ended our childhood. And children do not learn languages fast. Until they reach a level that can be compared to adult language they turn twelve years old. And they put a lot of effort into learning but they just judge it less as they are not yet ashamed to speaking falsely -until they come to school where they are punished for mistakes.

Adults have loads of knowledge and (cognitive) skills they haven‘t had as a child. Excluding grammar lessons e.g. means to ignore the intellectual capacities of the learner.

Last but not least: Is listening and anticipating or speaking after a taped voice in any way comparable to the way children learn a language? They learn because they truly interact and adopt, analyze and repeat real life situations. This is impossible to mimik with any such language course.


Speaking like a native

More or less until the age of 16 we are able to learn a language in such a way that our pronunciation resembles that of a native speaker. Of course there might be exceptions but one thing is sure: without a professional teacher who corrects you this aim is far from possible. While software at least records our voice when we speak what the program wants us to say and enables us to compare it to the original, it is ridiculous to assume that I could correct myself without this tool. But the main problem lies in our inability to recognize our own mistakes. Why do you think do authors let editors read their texts before publishing them? Are they too stupid to find mistakes? It’s about intention and unintentional mistakes happen. If you are older than 16 that also means that you can not hear the language you are about to learn like any native. You can at max imitate it very well but will always be identifiable as a foreign speaker if you just speak long enough. And a proper accent does certainly not come with ease or in fifty hours of listening and brabbling what I think I hear after a professional speaker, who also speaks quite a lot of English on those tapes.


No harm done?

That is said from other seamingly harmless things like homeopathy as well. But unlike the latter, learning a language unsupervised (there is no real teacher involved in any of the above German audio courses) can lead to serious language damage which is very hard to repair even by a professional and so cause even more cost than you intended in the first place. Also it gives you the illusion of learning German -one can not but learn even inspite of bad teaching- preventing you to search up a specialist.


My Personal Problem with Audio

I am a very visual person. I have to see how words are written. I have to write as well as it helps me to memorize a word or structure. Listening consciously for half an hour is hard enough but doing it WHILE I am doing something else like two of the above claim doesn‘t make any sense as the content smoothly passes by my attention and therefore doesn‘t find it‘s way into my memory. With Michel Thomas that‘s impossible. Also audio requires me to listen to a fixed sequence. But I am a fast learner and like to pick out the things that interest me at this moment without having to listen through several minutes of other stuff. I hated that at uni as well. Then to review a lesson I would have to go over everything again instead of just focussing on the elements which I haven‘t gotten yet. What a colossal waste of my time and energy.


Soothing the Wounds

Again, what I can say is, that all three have put serious effort in producing high quality material and for that the prices seem appropriate. There‘s nothing against using any of these German audio courses as supplemental material while you study with a private teacher or if you have to, in a class. But don‘t think you will learn proper German solely by listening or working with any of these courses.


But What‘s with the Proofs?

I can‘t proof that these are fakes and I wouldn‘t dare to go that far. But how could you find out if these people are real? And what exactly are they claiming? Mostly that they enjoyed taking the courses. But then, what are these people comparing their experience to? They might have enjoyed private lessons even more. Did they solely work with the courses or used other material or people to learn German? All these questions are unanswerable. Unless I meet someone in person who convinces me that he or she has gotten his or her skills with these courses mostly I allow myself to stay doubtful of any of these companies claims.

It‘s a vast topic but I will end here now. It can just be an inspiration to think twice before acquiring courses like these (or any other audio-based course).






K. Kannwischer: Bilingualismus in Der Frühen Kindheit

German Audio Courses
german language

Don‘t read German Children‘s Books

Childrens books in German
das Kaninchen – the rabbit / Image via Pixabay

Just Don‘t

I have heared the opposite advice so often, I‘ve lost count. And I really enjoyed picking some really nice books to read them to my now twelve year old son. What I pay a lot of attention to when choosing a book is the language. They are lovely written and it was a pleasure to read them to my boy but the language in there was everything but simple and definitely not suitable for a beginner but rather for the very advanced learners.



Oh, they meant those ,other‘ children‘s books. Where Timmy and Tammy ride the ponys to candyland. Well, hum, really? Would you read that in your own language? I mean by yourself? I‘m sure your intellect rejoices when you flip the 2inch thick pages to see those lovely drawn images with that one or two lines of literature written under them? I mean, who wouldn‘t (at the age of two)? Either way:


They are not for You

Well written children‘s books use a language full of the written past tense called Präteritum. It uses antique, low-frequent words and non-communicative structures. They are literature. Ever met someone speaking like a book? Books made for toddlers are an insult to the adult‘s brain that is capable of so much more than to read ten sentences (that you should be able go over on a single day anyhow) about construction-vehicles, firemen or Dolly‘s first day in school.


Do what you love

If you like to read, read what you‘d normally read. Even if that means not understanding major parts of it. But at least you are directing your interest towards your interests and pre-knowledge. Read it online with a good browser dictionary and you will quickly get the idea of the article or text. You will forget the words and structures that you don‘t use in your everyday‘s life or at least park them in the darker lots of your memory where they will become dusty and rusty and finally die, sad and alone.



Great online dictionaries are,, or Or search for ,browser dictionary plugin‘ to make finding words even more comfortable. Finding German sites that contain information about your field of interest shouldn‘t be a problem either.

Learn German like an adult, like an individual that wants to share what he or she has experienced and learned.

Childrens books in German
Culture german language


The use of the word Nazi in modern English and German language
der Tritt – the kick / Image from Pixabay


When my brother, who is 15 years younger than me, first used the word Party-Nazis about a year ago, I was surprised of this word being used out of it‘s historical context. Nevertheless I understood what kind of people he meant. While there‘s no discussion about it that people messing up any party can not be the same as the historical Hitler-Nazis it is pretty interesting how the youth is dealing with these things. Continue reading “Party-Nazis”

The use of the word Nazi in modern English and German language
german language

Speak German in 30 Days

Learn German Fast
die Raumfähre – the space shuttle / Image by NASA via Pixabay

Six weeks ago I was looking for someone who didn‘t speak any German and hasn‘t taken any classes so far to prove the concept of Smarter German, which claims to teach German in just 30 days to English speaking learners. The aim was to pass the Goethe B1-exam shortly after these 30 days.

The Candidate

Almost the first applicant seemed right from the beginning. She had tried to study German a bit but has never taken nor spoken any word of German before although she was already living about half a year in Germany. But working in a start-up, where everybody speaks English and having English speaking friends, Camilla had no real need to learn German although the wish was there. She just didn‘t want to sit in classes with ten to twenty others at fixed times for at least half a year if not more. That was also not compatible with her working schedule. When she heard of my offer to teach someone 30 days for free with a guaranteed result, she was in immediately. She had nothing to lose she said… afterwards.

The Right Attitude

In the second session I could see that she was serious and that I hadn‘t erred in picking her for the Challenge. She worked according to my instructions which is crucial for the program’s success. And we made sure that we protocolled her progress in four short videos at the end of every week. I have to say that even I was amazed by her progress and her ability to work with the technques that differentiate Smarter German from all other offers available. It was a mere pleasure to see her absorbing all this information like a sponge and being able to use it right away. She also got lovely support from her partner who started to speak German to her as much as was possible.

The Exam

As the end came near it was time to register for the B1 exam. I wanted her to do the Goethe because it has the best reputation and is one of the most challenging exams out there. Berlin was booked out so we checked other possibilities and found that Hamburg had a few free spots left. On March, 28th 2013 Camilla sat in the exam with mixed feelings. She reported on every step she took in the breaks and didn‘t feel too confident, especially about the listening comprehension. But I was sure that she would pass it. The pre exam she did at home in a third of the required time gave her an 80% score, so the real one couldn‘t fail. And now almost two weeks later, when she checked her mailbox after work she found the letter with the news from the Goethe Institute and was so nervous to open the letter.

The Result

What came out was so overwhelming, she called me right away telling me that she passed the exam with a very good. She‘s got 272 out of 300 points, that‘s 91%. I don‘t know when I was that happy before. That was a giant proof that my system worked, that it is possible to learn German in just 2-3 hours per day for a month.

The Next Level

In May we will start to work on B2. Of course in 30 days only. We will leave the weekends out this time and it is not that revolutionary as the first part because we will only save two months time but just imagine she continued on her own later on and would do C1 in just another month. A year‘s work in just 3 months. And with splendid results instead of just passing it somehow. That‘s a certificate that you like to put in your CV or show your friends. By the way, take a look at Camilla’s here.

I am more than thankful for this experience and am currently already working with two other clients, that will finish B1 in just 30, respectively 60 days. Chris just has too much work on his schedule and is doing an MBA at the same time, so we just work over Skype three times a week, at six in the morning. That‘s the spirit that I am looking for. You‘ve got that too? Why don‘t you try Smarter German and save valuable time and spare yourself a lot of frustration. It‘s still some work, but hey, if it is fun, is it really working?

Hope to see you one day and have a good time.


Learn German Fast
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Learning Speed Matters: Learn German quickly

Learn German quickly
der Windhund – the greyhound / Image by Bergadder via Pixabay

Learn German quickly

One minute summary: This article is about the reasons why learning speed matters when learning a new language. Integrated into my personal experience the main points are:

  • We want to express ourselves fully as soon as possible
  • We want to immerse into the new culture straight away
  • Group learning works with acquiring knowledge, not with learning how to speak.
  • We feel much more capable and confident if we achieve things in short time than if we do in long months.
  • You can improve your German learning speed by hiring a private tutor and
  • You will feel incredibly good about having the full attention of the instructor and hence be a lot more motivated to reach your goal.

Useful to improve your learning speed and to learn German quickly: The LEARN GERMAN FAST COURSE


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