study in germany

The Master’s Degree – Studying in Germany

The Master's Degree in Germany
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If you plan to study in Germany at the level of the Master’s degree, in some ways it’s easier than trying to apply as an undergraduate at the Bachelor’s level: If you are an English speaker, you’re in luck! There are more programs at the Master’s level that are taught in English, with more and more expected soon.

 

General Requirements for your Master’s degree

To clarify here: The Master’s degree is the second university degree, and is done either after the Bachelor’s degree is awarded or after a few years of professional experience. At the Master’s level, classes are generally more intensive and specialized, so it is useful to study at the Master’s level if you wish to specialize in a particular field, or if you want to bolster your previous studies with a related field. Some programs of study at the Master’s level do not require the study of a related field first, such as the Master of Business Administration degree (MBA), so it is best to carefully review your options well in advance.

 

Which Documents do you need?

However, you will still need your documents. This includes transcripts and translations of credentials for your Bachelor’s degree. If you are applying to the Master’s level courses without having yet graduated from your Bachelor’s degree – such as applying in your final year of Bachelor’s degree classes to study in Germany for a Master’s degree the year afterwards – please make sure to indicate this in your documents and send all unofficial or interim transcripts you may have, noting that your degree is still in progress and has not yet been awarded. Also make sure to include your expected graduation date with your materials. When in doubt, or if you have any questions about the courses you are looking at taking, please contact the universities you are looking at directly: it is always best practice to contact their Akademisches Auslandsamt / International Office first, but at the Master’s degree level, it is also a good idea to contact the departments that interest you for more information on the program of study you might be interested in. For example, if you are interested in enrolling in a program related to history, you may want to contact that university’s history department for more information about the program.

 
Funding, however, can become more of a problem at the Master’s degree level depending on your country of origin. The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) can help international students in finding scholarships, stipends, and other resources in financing your Master’s degree in Germany.

Financing and Scholarships study in germany

Financing your Studies in Germany

Financiny your Studies in Germany
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This is one of the trickiest things to figure out – even in your home country, finding out how to best finance postsecondary studies can be confusing! So let us help you with some information. As stated previously, normally at German institutions, there are no tuition fees. Students are required to pay for certain fees and contributions, such as to student unions/governments, enrollment fees, and so on, and these charges can vary per semester. Please check the universities you are interested in for further information on these charges.

Which Expenses do You need to cover?

Of course, the main expense you will have as a student will be living expenses; housing, for example, as well as food and clothing. As such, it is recommended that you find a way to have at your disposal 600 – 800 Euros (or the equivalent) PER MONTH to take care of these expenses. You will need to verify that you have sufficient funds in order to apply for an entry visa or a residence permit for studying at a German institution, so how do you make sure you get the funds?
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a wealth of tips and information in English, including information on how you might be able to work within Germany (if you are able to do so, such as if you are from a EU member country).

Looking for Scholarships

If you are from the United States of America, keep in mind that looking for financial aid may take up to 12 months in advance. However, it can be done. Websites such as InternationalScholarships.com help in finding financing opportunities for international study. Also, do not forget that organizations and professional associations may be able to give you grants or scholarship monies – please check any associations to which you or your family may belong in case there may be opportunities there. Checking professional associations or organizations is good advice even if you are outside the United States!

Get help from the Bank

Finally, there is the option to take out loans. This should be used as a last resort, but thankfully, since German educational institutions do not charge tuition fees, this may be a way to gain a cosmopolitan education at a lower cost than in your home country.

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Documents that may be needed for university

What documents do you need to study in Germany?
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Transcripts, Translations, and More: Documents For Studying in Germany

So you’ve decided to study in Germany, and have read up on the basic information; you’re in the process of getting your government-sponsored identification (such as a passport) if you do not already have one, and want to find out what else you may need to apply!

As the required documentation can take time to research, acquire, and get approved, this is the next step for you.

The following information is very dependent on where your home country is. Please make sure to research universities on your own as well, as specific instructions vary by university.

However, as a general rule, please have the following documentation ready:

  •  Proof of graduation from secondary education (such as from high school in the United States of America
  • If you have taken any postsecondary certification courses or university classes, provide transcripts or certifications of those as well
  • Include information on the grading system used by the educational institution
  • All documents must be officially authenticated by the educational institution as well (such as sealed/stamped by the university, with a school seal, notarized, etc).

The tricky part for documentation is this next one: All documents must have a sworn translation form with them. This means finding a German translator and getting the translation officially recognized, either through a notary or a translation service specializing in overseas applications.

Language Skills and Tests

You might also have to prove your language skills are at a particular level, depending on the course you have chosen to study and the university at which you plan to study. Again, please check with the university, but as a general rule:

If you are taking a course of study taught in English, English-language proficiency is required. Please look into the ToEFL, the IELTS, or confirm that your secondary education (and/or any postsecondary studies) was taught in the English language, to help with proof of English-language proficiency.

If you are taking a course of study taught in German, of course a certain level of German language proficiency is to be expected. As such, please look into the following:

  • The DSH (Deustche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang)
  • TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache)

If your language skills or qualifications are not enough for entrance into a German university, you may have the choice of enrolling in a Studienkolleg. A Studienkolleg, such as the one used by Freie Universität Berlin and more, helps prepare you for studies in German and has an assessment test.  For information on what Studienkolleg is like, please watch this site as well.

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What do I need to study in Germany?

What do I need to study in Germany
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What You’ll Need To Study in Germany

So you’ve decided you want to study in Germany. But how to best go about it? What do you need? What do you do? Here are three essential tips to get you started.

1. Start the process early!

Because it can involve a lot of paperwork, it’s best to get the process started early – up to a year and a half early if you plan on enrolling in a university program in Germany itself. This cannot be emphasized enough. Take some time to research your options. If you are a university student, does your university have a sister school agreement with a German institution? If so, you might be able to study in Germany for a brief amount of time with the benefits of advancing your existing degree program, having other people from your university with you, and not needing to know much of the German language. If your university does not have such a program, or if you are interested in attending a German university program or a foundation course directly, read on.

2. Determine your language level!

When you research programs and courses in Germany, there are a dizzying array of options. But if your German language ability is not all that wonderful yet, then your options are more limited. Please take into account your language ability or lack thereof when choosing what to study – or if to study – in Germany. And even if you are confident in your German ability, consider how your language ability affects your housing arrangements. Not only might it affect where and which universities you may want to research (such as Berlin, or Munich, or so on), but also it might affect where you stay within a given city or town. Arrangements include accommodations for international students at the university itself, which would provide more international flavor and chances to make friends using English; a homestay arrangement, which would be an immersive and intense exercise in learning more about German language and culture; or other housing arrangements as may be available, such as renting a flat or room directly. There are pros and cons to each, which will be examined in a separate article later!

3. Ensure you have proper identification!

This varies by country. In the USA, “proper ID” to go to Germany means having a passport, which can take some time to process. For more information about US passports and how to apply for one, please visit the Department of Homeland Security website. Further requirements can be found by inquiring of a German diplomatic mission, such as the German consulate or embassy; general visa and travel information for United States citizens interested in studying in Germany can be found online at http://www.germany.info/ .

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Study in Germany: RWTH Aachen University

rwth-aachen-university-study-in-germany
der Dom – the cathedral // © Image via Pixabay

Where to Study in Germany

4th of a Series on German Universities

Officially, it’s the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, but, since that’s quite a mouthful, we’ll call it Aachen University.  It is the intellectual descendant of the Royal Rhenish-Westphalian Polytechnic, begun by King Wilhelm I as a result of a donation from the Aachen and Munich Fire Insurance Company.  The university opened its doors on 10 October 1870 and was the first Prussian university.  Within five years, more than 450 students attended the university.  In 1899, Kaiser Wilhelm II granted the university the right to award doctoral degrees.  In 1923, the university appointed its first female professor.  In 1960, the university expanded from its pre-war size of 33,000 m2 to 88,000 m2 and, within six years, the university had added an Electrical Engineering School, a Faculty of Philosophy, and a Medical School.  In 1970, the student population expanded greatly to more than 10,000 students and, in 1980, the university added the Pedagogical University Rheinland as the Faculty of Education.  By 1986, it added the School of Economic Sciences and dismantled the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Philosophy.

 

The Numbers

Aachen University is located next to the Belgian and Netherlands tri-border.  It’s only 90 minutes from Brussels, an hour from Cologne, two hours from Antwerp and Luxembourg City, and three hours from Frankfurt and from Rotterdam.  It is certainly centrally located in Europe.  Nowadays, the student body (undergraduate and graduate) is almost 45,000 strong (ca. 32% female), with almost 550 professors and more than 5,200 additional academic staff, and ca. 3,500 non-faculty staff, trainees, and interns.  The academic structure comprises 10 departments which include mathematics; computer science; physics; chemistry; biology; architecture; civil engineering; mechanical engineering; mining, metallurgy, & geosciences; electrical engineering; information technology; philosophy; economics, education; and medicine.

 

Partners of RWTH

The university has partnered with 563 major universities worldwide to promote international studies on a professional scale.  Partnerships include the Beijing Institute of Technology and 17 other universities in China; Israel Institute of Technology; Nara Institute of Science and Technology and 11 other universities in Japan; the University of Waterloo and four other universities in Canada; UCLA Berkeley and 11 other universities in the United States.  For the full list of partnered universities worldwide, click here.

Aachen University is one of the largest research university campuses, not only in Germany, but also in Europe.  It is also among the leading European scientific and research universities.  The university is quite proud that its facilities developed the first all-metal aircraft and the diesel-soot filter and it established the first wind tunnel and the first particle accelerator.  Aachen University prides itself as having the greatest density of business start-ups, university spin-offs, and engineering offices in Germany.  It is routinely referred to as the “silicon valley” of Europe.

 

Aachen University is Pretty International

Aachen University hosts almost 10,000 international students from 125 countries and the university encourages the strong participation of students at all levels in the university’s policies and procedures.  As its website emphasizes, the ‘Aachen Way’ requires that, “. . . for each individual topic and process under consideration, the right people are identified and brought together.  The successful governance of the university is characterized by the interplay of bottom-up processes and top-down coördination, together with an appreciation of engagement, collaboration, and pragmatism.  This progressive form of strategic decision-making is not at all typical of how universities are governed.  So, according to RWTH Rector Ernst Schmachtenberg, ‘it deserves the quite fitting designation of the Aachen Way.’”

 

The City of Aachen

What about the city of Aachen?  For openers, it was the principle coronation site for the Holy Roman emperors and German kings from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.  How livable is it for students?  It is eminently livable!  Charlemagne liked it so much that he’s still there—why wouldn’t you like it?  The Aachen cathedral contains the Palatine Chapel, the best surviving example of the original Palatine Chapel built in the 12th century by the Sicilian king, Roger II, in Palermo, Italy.

Do you like museums?  The nearby Suermondt Ludwig Museum, open since 1877, displays German sculptures from the 12th to the 16th centuries and includes works by Tilman Riemenschneider, Hendrik Douvermann, and Arndt van Tricht.  Paintings include works by Cranach the Elder, Cornelis Engebrechtsz, and Aelbrecht Bouts.  It also proudly displays works by the Spanish artists Francisco de Zurbarán, Luis de Morales, and Jusepe de Ribera and the Italian artist Bartolomeo Manfredi.  The museum’s holdings include major works from Netherlands and Flanders by Willem Claeszoon Heda, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Snyders, Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael, Jacob Jordaens, Frans Hals, Joseph de Bray, Willem Kalf, and Jan Boeckhorst.  The Suermondt Ludwig Museum is worth a visit on its own; for anyone living and studying in Aachen, it is indeed a bonus.

Need to kick back and relax?  Check out the Schwertbad-Quelle in Burtscheid, an Aachen suburb.  It has the warmest natural spring in Germany (76° C.).  Worked up an appetite?  Let me recommend the Turkish/Italian Restaurant Pont Pascha at Pontstraße 116, Aachen.  It offers pizza, salads, pasta, baked pasta dishes, and baked vegetable dishes.  All in all, it offers good food and value for money.  For a light snack, try a printen from a local bakery.  It’s an engraved pastry unique to Aachen, somewhat similar to an elongated gingerbread biscuit, and the European Union has awarded it a so-called “protected designation of origin,” i.e., only accredited Aachen bakers may bake and sell them.  It’s a treat, it’s not expensive, and, once you’ve eaten one, you’ve got bragging rights over folks back home who haven’t had one.  Each printen is baked in a form that leaves the imprint of a person on the length of the pastry.  While the precise recipe is a secret, the ingredients allegedly include cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice, and ginger—all sweetened with sugar-beet syrup.

Be sure to consider Aachen University in your evaluation of Germany universities to begin, continue, or complete your university education and visit Aachen before you decide on any other university.  You owe that to yourself.  Good luck!

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University of Würzburg

Study in Germany in Wurzburg
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1st of a Series on German Universities

The University of Würzburg is one of the 15 intensive-research universities in Germany (“U15 German Universities”) that are recognized as such worldwide and that are particularly acknowledged as among the leading sources of medical research and development. These 15 universities’ collective student bodies total almost half a million students, of which the University of Würzburg has roughly 30,000 students in many fundamental disciplines, including, but not limited to, medicine, science, and the humanities. Almost 60% of the university’s students are female, but, sadly, less than 9% of its students are international.

The University of Würzburg is justly proud of the fact that 14 Nobel Laureates have led the ranks of the many eminent scientists, researchers, and scholars who have taught and worked there over the past six centuries. Given its acclaimed position in the greater German university system and its international academic reputation as a premier center of learning, the University of Würzburg is clearly one of Germany’s unrecognized scholarly gems.

There’s a Strong Competition

At the same time, given the burgeoning thrust of international politics and economics, the
University of Würzburg will no doubt benefit from the competitive interest savvy international
students will express as they vie with more and more qualified students for fewer and fewer slots
in prestigious universities worldwide. In other words, it’s an ideal choice for serious
international students, not only because it’s a superb university, but also because the university
itself wants more international students.

The university bases its graduate school’s academic laurels on what it calls its “four pillars”: humanities; law, economics & society; life & natural sciences; and science & technology, and it’s undergraduate school, while embracing what it terms the “classic four” academic areas: medicine, theology, philosophy, and law, includes numerous degree programs, many of them new. For example, Business Management & Economics, Chemistry & Pharmacy, Medicine, Mathematics & Computer Science, and Arts—historical, philological, cultural, & geographic studies offer diverse, contemporary, and in-depth courses of study. The breadth of the university’s offerings should appeal to one and all.

Student life is not merely important, it’s fundamentally important, and both the University of Würzburg and the city itself offer an abundance of opportunity for one to establish and nurture one’s familiarity not only with German culture, but also European culture. Both the city and the university itself are so endearing and of such intrinsic quality that they capture the hearts and minds of students who, much to their own surprise, discover that this is where they want settle down, i.e., to marry and to pursue their career.

Demographics

Würzburg, which has a population of 125,000, is a cosmopolitan city located in northern Bavaria (“Bayern”). It straddles the Main River and is about 120 kilometers east of Frankfurt am Main (population 700,000) and 120 kilometers west of Nuremberg (population 500,000). Greater Würzburg itself has a population of 160,000. The three cities are linked by Bundesautobahn 3, as well as by the German Railway Company (“Deutsche Bahn”). Both auto and rail travel to eithercity from Würzburg is usually no more than an hour—not that there is any need to leave Würzburg!

You must bear in mind that Würzburg has been a university city for more than six centuries. It knows what students want and it satisfies those wants . . . in abundance . . . and the students—possibly you?—contribute to the city’s ambiance of eternal youth by putting “spring” into the virtual steps of lifelong residents and tourists alike. (SEE here )

Surroundings

Surrounded as it is by the so-called Franconian Wine Country, Würzburg offers more leisure activities than my grandmother’s corncrib (“die Maiskrippe”) has mice. Events and endeavors include a huge trade fair, a jazz festival, Bach days, open house at many wineries, international film festivals, the Residenz Run Würzburg, a superb 18-hole golf course overlooking the city, an annual 42-kilometer marathon & half marathon, nordic walking events, cycling within Würzburg as well as throughout the surrounding wine country and along the Main River, hiking directly in Würzburg as well as in the greater Würzburg area, e.g., the Stein-Wein-Trail, several 10- kilometer hiking trails, and, for the robust and die-hard hikers, trails ranging from 88 kilometers to almost 500 kilometers.

After all that exercise and fresh air, one needs to unwind and Würzburg offers many opportunities to pamper one’s inner self, from beer gardens, pubs, and wine taverns to cafés, restaurants, and clubs. Sample the beer specialities at Brauerei-Gasthof Alter Kranen, investigate the delightful Italian-style offerings of the intimate Ristorante Dolce Vita, test yourself with the spicy entrees of Habaneros + Habaneros X-Press (“Texican Restaurant Y Bar”), and savor Mennas Time Out fare and entertainment (BLUES-KONZERT-Hoerbie Schmidt Band). Würzburg’s night life offers both quality and variety enough to satisfy the most discriminating residents and visitors. You’ll find your special place soon enough and morph from a student-visitor to regular.

Choosing a university is one of the three most crucial decisions one can make in life. It’s as challenging as choosing one’s spouse and one’s career. For that reason alone, it’s important to be informed not only about one’s options, but also about which questions to ask. It’s not enough merely to get all the facts and figures about a given university. One must know oneself thoroughly in order to know what one needs; mere wants are often fleeting and ultimately disappointing. This article about Würzburg University is meant as a provocative guide to all German universities, many of which will be similarly profiled in the coming months, so, as they say on Deutsche Welle, “stay tuned” (“Bleiben Sie dran!”).

Thinking About Studying in Germany?

Then you better make sure that your German language skills are top. Our grammar courses and songs will help you to stand out from the crowd and will help you gain respect for your ability to learn. Why don’t you check them out. Just click on the image below.

study in germany

study in germany

How to Prepare for DSH & TestDaF Exam

German DSH TestDaf Exam
If it just was this easy / Image by Pixabay

DSH & TestDaF Exam: WARNING

The following advise is assuming that you are a disciplined learner with a pretty stable life: No drugs, no sex, no rock’n roll. At least for seven months. A troubled mind can not learn fast.

GENERAL ADVICE

If you have the time, rather invest a few extra months or even a full year to really build a solid base in German as the DSH and the TestDaF  exam are merely the entry level to your studies. The better your German is when you start studying, the more successful you will be with your studies. Studying in Germany most likely differs very much from studying in your home country. You will need quite some time to get things sorted out and if you have to read scientific material in German language you might need up to twice as long for one text as your German fellow students. I always advice those who ask me this kind of question to invest more time to solidify their knowledge of German to have a better life on the long run. If you are young, a year is an irrelevant amount of time, no matter what your society or your parent might want to make you believe -if the young at least occasionally listened to the old *sigh*. Use that additional year to become really (!) good at German and other skills, like e.g. learn how to learn or deepen your knowledge of the German society (<– I urge you to read this book), history and culture. Those will help you greatly on the long run. You don’t just want to be the fastest student, you mainly want to be one of the best.
There are really quick ways to master the German language like the Learning German faster course, but to prepare for DSH & TestDaF it takes more.

Do not come to Germany

…before you have passed your B1 exam. Dealing with a new environment, language and culture at the same time is extremely demanding and also inefficient. Even if you don’t fail completely, your experience of Germany will be one of suffering a lot. Don’t listen to anyone, that claims, the fastest way to learn German is to come here. Especially mistrust them if they take your money for this rubbish advice. They might call that immersion. But Immersion doesn’t make sense before having reached level B1 due to the above mentioned reason.   That being said, let me help you with getting through your DSH / TestDaF exam.

B2 does not equal B2

Both the DSH / TestDAF exam are very challenging exams. While passing the TestDaF generally requires level B2, it is not comparable with a standard B2 level, as they check whether you are ready to study in German language at a German university. There are immense differences in vocabulary and a stronger focus on grammatical structures mainly used in scientific literature and writing. Also the topics of the oral exam are far more formal than in the standard B2 exam.Take a glance at a sample here.

How long does it take to prepare for the DSH / TestDaF Exam?

Of course everything depends on your skills and the efficiency of your learning process. There are different scenarios:

Learning German on your own

If you are learning German on your own and you are NOT an experienced language learner, it is very unlikely that you will ever reach that level of B2, especially if German is your first foreign language. You might become fluent in functional German, meaning, having conversations about things that you usually talk about in your daily life but writing, especially scientific writing is a whole different level. Sure, you might be one of the 1% exceptional German learners that just hears or reads a word of German somewhere and instantly learns it, but you most likely belong to 99% of normally intelligent German learners, that simply takes more time and effort than those talented folks. I strongly recommend that you seek a private tutor or in the second-worst case a group in some cheap language school (200-400€ per month). No need to waste much money on the expensive schools as your experience is mainly influenced by your teacher and fellow students.

Learning German in a class / group

This is the second-worst option. There are plenty of disadvantages of groups. Just to name the most important ones:

    • Group dynamics take time off teaching.
    • No significant individual correction/support
    • Each learner has different goals, background, intelligence and learning speed.
    • A group moves on an average speed. You might be slower or faster.
    • Missing a class gets you into learning trouble.
    • Having to come to a fixed place sums up to 180 hours of valuable lifetime.
    • Teachers usually don’t teach you how to learn, but mainly what to learn.  
    • 90% or more of the speech in the class is bad input as the only native speaker is the teacher.
    • Any group taking place less than 3x per week and longer than 45mins is a waste of your time.
    • You still have to do 90mins of homework after class which more than often doesn’t get corrected.

BUT: They are better than studying German on one’s own for most learners as they at least provide you with a solid structure. And that structure is designed with a lot of redundancy so that even if you do not do your daily homework here and there you might advance slowly towards your goal. To reach a standard B2 one needs 9 months in average in so-called intensive classes. Usually that means 3hours of tuition five days per week plus 90mins of daily homework for 9 months in a row without any (!) break but weekends and the national holidays. Counting in travel time you will spend 810hrs of learning + 180hrs of travelling = 990hrs on your German learning if things run smoothly. Learning with a very cheap school in Berlin you’d have to invest ~2000€ for your tuition in a group with up to 20 people (incl. exam fee and books) until standard B2. At the Goethe Institute Berlin that would cost you 9000€ also in a group with up to 20 people. But you’d still have to take part in a DSH / TestDaF preparatory course for another 4-8 weeks and pay another 1000€ (Goethe) or400€ (Hartnackschule Berlin) course fee. The final DSH / TestDaf exam will cost you another 100€-175€.

Total costs so far to reach DSH / TestDaF B2: ca. 2500-10200€

I found those courses dead (!) boring as students are mainly drilled to fulfill the minimum requirements of those exams. And I highly doubt that those courses are efficient as they assume that you learn like a machine and not a thinking human being. 50% of foreign students cancel their studies. Of those many students say that they were having trouble with the German language. And those were just the ones who made it into the studies. I have requested the number of those who pass the TestDaF exam from the creators of that test today. Let’s see how they respond. I do not expect a high success rate.

Learn German with a private tutor when in a hurry

So you have 2300€ to burn. Let’s consider an averagely priced private German tutor. For 45mins he charges 20€. That would give you 115 lessons with that tutor within your budget. Let’s also assume you learn a 30% faster without all the downsides of a group. Assuming seven months until your DSH / TestDaF exam, that would give you 16 lessons with that tutor per month or one session every other day. If you have 10000€ to burn you might get 32 lessons per month for nine months for the same price. Higher tuition fee doesn’t necessarily mean a better tutor but that tutor at least has a higher self-value which might (!) be the result of better teaching. Always try 3-5 tutors before booking one for a longer period of time.  Many offer shorter but free trial sessions. And even if you booked one, feel free to change him if, after a few weeks, you realize that he wasn’t the best choice. He will survive and probably get other clients, but you might lose a year of your life if you stick with the wrong tutor. That tutor needs to provide you with a lot of homework. You need to work at least 2-3hrs on your German in addition to your lessons. Do not let him get away with anything below that. The more you work on your own, the more questions will come up and that is exactly what you should use your tutor for. He’s the expert and even if he doesn’t know the answer right away, he will tell it to you next time. The problem will be, that your tutor probably wants to teach you. But you don’t necessarily need that. You can work with my German grammar course which covers everything you need to know until B1 and 90% of what you need to know for B2 regarding the German grammar. After having worked on your basic German skills, make sure to get as many sample exams as possible to get an impression of the exam and work your way through them with help of your tutor. If you know what is expected of you, you will feel much calmer in the exam and raise your chances for success. I strongly recommend that on your path to DSH / TestDaF you take the B1 exam. A1 and A2 are redundant and taking two different B2 exams would be a distraction. But the B1 is an important waymark and will keep your expectations real while boosting your motivation significantly.

Speaking is a problem

16 lessons a month seem like very little to those who are used to be offered 120 lessons for 200€. But less can be significantly more when it comes to learning. If I can achieve the same results in 16 lessons as I would in 120 lessons than I’d always choose the first option. Also, consider that you (!) are still studying at least 70 lessons in addition to your tutor sessions. But you’d still save a lot of time in the end. Now, to get to b1 speaking is probably the easier part. If you use 30mins of your tutor-session for questions and answers and supervision, you’d have 15mins left for practice of speaking. And that shouldn’t be random speaking. You’d need to drill a few German sentence patterns and work on your past participles, prepositions and dative but as soon as possible you should prepare for the oral B1 exam. You can find some samples here. The oral exam lasts 15mins of which you will be speaking roughly 3x2mins. Working 15mins every second day on that should do. I will also soon present you a technique with which you will be able to work on your pronunciation on your own. I call that technique the oral dictation. You might take a look at my German Pronunciation course. I will introduce you to this technique in my new book (coming end of June 2016).  Once B1 is behind you, the work begins. Mastering level B2 means that you have already dealt with most of the grammar but that you have to learn approximately 1500-2000 new words in a very short time. And that is only possible with the right effort. You might go straight to studying DSH exams but the vocabulary will most likely kill you. I leave it to your tutor to lay out the path for this challenge. But you should use memrise as it optimizes your vocabulary learning greatly. Preparing for the oral exam should now be a major part of your work with your tutor. If he doesn’t feel ready for this challenge, look for another one. Don’t hesitate just because you have grown to like him. You simply don’t have the time to make friends in this phase. Either you are serious about studying in Germany or you aren’t. There’s no grey zone for foreigners when it comes to studying successfully. The oral exam of TestDaF also differs a lot from the oral exam of DSH-exams. Make sure to check these sample exams: TestDaF oral exam DSH oral exam

It’s a long journey. Prepare for Rough Times

7 or maybe 9 months of intensive studying 3-5 hours a day, without any significant break, are a rough ride for most of us. You will experience downs and for such times you might need support. The better you are prepared, the faster you get out of the hole. If you have a solid learning structure and see your tutor every second day, you should not suffer long from these downs but they will come. Building a learning group, in which you simply sit together while each of you learns his on his own and in which you could occasionally help each other with advice might be a good idea to even stabilize your efforts a bit more. But be careful not to turn this into a Kuschelparty. If you become friends, discipline will suffer. Save that for after your exam. You wanted to learn fast. If you want to enjoy your learning more on an emotional level, I suggest that you calculate more time for your preparation. It is probably not easy to arrange such a group if you don’t recruit the others from your language learning class. I’m not talking about a so-called Tandem here as during your studying time you should rather focus on learning German than teaching others your native language. I haven’t found a useful platform for this yet but maybe you can simply take a trial lesson at one school and try to make some friends on that first day. That’s not the fine English way as we say in German “Die feine Englische Art” but again it about you saving a year of your life. Feel free to share you strategies with me and I’ll add them to this paragraph.

Conclusion

My recommendation as always is to squeeze your budget to the max and get a good private tutor. Approach him with clear aims and demands. If he fails to meet your demands, never (!) hesitate to change your tutor no matter how much you like him. You are on a mission here to save the life of a very important person: you. Your speaking skill will be the bottleneck of this operation. You can cover all necessary grammar easily with my learning material and focus on what’s difficult for you with your tutor. Learning fast is always stressful. If you are rather easy going calculate 10 months of learning in a group. But don’t expect good results coming automatically. Learning a language properly – and aiming at an academic career requires precision – is always a lot of work. Nothing worth having comes easy in life. You will appreciate yourself a lot after you have made it through the exam. And after the exam is before the exam. Studying in Germany, in German language or not is a lot of work, especially when you are not excellent in German. This being said, I wish you success. It’s possible. Do you really think you can do it?

study in germany

Berlin-The Place to Study

where to study in germany
© Image via Pixabay

The QS Best Student Cities list is published every year. This year the German capital is 9th while Munich ranked on the 11th place.

The Best Student Cities index calculates the most student-friendly cities in the world on 5 categories:

  1. University rankings: Calculated by the number of universities featured on the World University Rankings and a score depending on which ranking each institution has.
  2. Affordability: Calculated by the tuition fees index, the Big Mac and Ipad Index and the Mercer cost of Living Index. Many indicate that even a European capital, Berlin still has moderately cheap rents and stable living costs. As a result it got its’ highest marks in the affordability category.
  3. Student mix: Calculated by the volume of international students, the ratio of international to local students and the tolerance and inclusion index.
  4. Desirability: Calculated by the Economist’s Liveability Index, the Globalization and World Cities Index, the Safety and Pollution score by Numbeo and the Corruption Perceptions Index.
  5. Employer activity: Calculated by the number of universities domestic employers favour, a number of the universities international employers believe produced excellent graduates and the World Bank’s Youth Employment Bonus.

The city is also highly regarded among students all over the world, thanks to an increasing number of graduate and post-graduate courses in English. Berlin’s Freie Universität ranked 119th in the QS world university rankings. The city is considered acutely artistic for its museums and galleries. While the youngsters love it for its vibrant night life.

Paris tops the list as the world’s most student-friendly city, for a fourth year. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told to Guardian: “Paris is proud to be ranked as the best world student city. Our youth represents our greatest strength and incarnates our greatest hope. We carry an ambitious politic to make youth able to blossom, be successful, be able to choose and to build its future. We will continue to support students by offering them opportunities, in an open, dynamic and creative city.”

The French capital continues to appeal to the majority of expat students for its international universities. Eighteen of them being among the world’s top 75. The city got high scores for its moderately low fees, averaging $2400 in 2014, and for its local students’ high aspects of employability.

London fell into the 5th position this year due to its high cost of living. The world’s leading financial hub is widely known for its acclaimed universities. The UCL, University College London, and the Imperial College ranked 7th and 8th in the world.

Montreal is placed on the 7th position. Its famous McGill University is 24th in the world, the city is also known for its International Jazz Festival. Montreal got a high score in the student mix category.

Lastly, the city of Munich reached the 11th place. Home to the headquarters of a number of famous German multinationals such as BMW, Siemens and Allianz. Munich got surprisingly its highest marks in the affordability category.