How to make the most of your study holiday
- 15 ideas on how to prepare for your language course abroad -
Successful language course
at Sprachinstitut TREFFPUNKT
Regardless of whether you would like to hone your Business German language skills over the course of a week or participate in a two month intensive group course, here are some ideas* on how to spend the time before, during and after your study holiday abroad to ensure that you have a successful and entertaining language experience.
- Target your language course:
decide what you want to learn and need to practice during your stay in Germany.
Which language level you want to reach?
- If you are a complete beginner
(course level A1), plan an intensive language course of at least 3 weeks. From experience, 4 weeks is optimal because time you spend totally immersed in everyday life and the language is a very important success factor.
- Choose a language school that...
- best meets your learning goals. Make sure that as well as taking intensive classes, you have the chance to take additional, more flexible individual lessons and to participate in leisure time activities where you can experience using your language in practice.
- focuses on either adults or children. In our experience, adolescent learners and adults learners have totally different needs and interests
- has a broad mix of nationalities, so that you are not continuously confronted by your own language. This usually means choosing a school attracting individual language travelers, not large groups from one country.
- offers small group sizes: 8 as maximum, smaller if possible. This is necessary to have an adequate opportunity to interact during lessons. Despite the higher cost per lesson, these courses usually have a better price-performance ratio.
- offers a complete language programme throughout the year.
- offers the opportunity to live as a single guest with locals.
- guarantees accommodation in the town centre. Otherwise spontaneous leisure activities together with other students become difficult or you will waste too much time getting from one place to another.
- presents all the information you need on the Internet. Avoid booking through language tour operators or agents who do not tell you the address or details of the school and the courses in advance.
- Before making your mind up, investigate the opinions and experiences of former students
This is the best way to find out if the school and the setting will meet your expectations.
If you are looking for a small and/or new school you won't find it through the big global agencies, and these are the very schools where individual care and close contact to the local culture and people are offered.
- Course planning:
If intensive learning is the main issue for you, try to avoid the peak summer season from June to August when 70% of all language travelers come.
- Sketch out your daily schedule
in Germany in order to decide the best number of lessons for you. Take into account the time spent practicing your German informally with other students, during a language exchange (also called Sprachduo or Sprachtandem) or simply on the street. Don't forget to allow 2-3 hours to do homework, revise what you learned in class and organize your notes. In general, the longer your stay is, the less hours per day should be chosen. Thus, for a 3-month language course 20 lessons per week are sufficient.
- If this is your first visit to the selected city
- in our case Bamberg - get a guidebook and read about its history. Once you are there, there will be a lot to see and to experience. For Bamberg visitors: Check out the FAQ's on the TREFFPUNKT website for more information about studying and living in Bamberg.
- Get accustomed to the foreign language:
Try to spend some time every day or week listening to German.
- Buy an audio magazine for language learning, like Deutsch perfekt to learn German (...or Spotlight to learn English) and make use of TV / radio and video/DVD.
- Order "a word for every day". For example the services Word of the Day - Transparent.com, One-Word-A-Day and Vokabel-des-Tages.dee will send a word with explanations in English and German free of charge. A similar service for training English vocabulary is offered by www.vokabelmail.de.
- a small German bilingual dictionary or a good electronic dictionary (like the "Bookman" by Franklin), that you can carry with you all the time
- a good monolingual German learners' dictionary with at least 70.000 words for homework, e.g. from Pons, Duden or Langenscheidt
- perhaps an iPod or a smartphone like the iPhone with the corresponding app to make use of videos, radio or audio files (podcasts, e.g. from Bayern2Radio) for listening German.
- Do some revision from any other German courses you have taken.
- Read in the foreign language...
- magazines or newspapers
- one of your favourite books
- language learning magazines
- something online regarding your interests (e.g. see column on the right hand side)
it is a good idea to have a few lessons before leaving for your language course - either with a textbook or a language learning CD. You will find our suggestions in the category language learning software.
and meeting people from different countries. Subscribe for a newsletter of your preferred language school. (Example: TREFF PUNKT Newsletter), the travel agency or the tourist office of your city of destination.
If you would like to see a special theatre or a concert, it is best to order the tickets as soon as possible. You can find details of any upcoming events in the local event calendar or newspapers (for Bamberg: www.fraenkische-nacht.de, www.fraenkischer-tag.de) and the tourist information centre www.bamberg.info).
offers as an introduction to your study abroad programme. At Sprachinstitut TREFFPUNKT, for example, there are Online German classes via Skype, which are already used by a growing number of students both as preparation for the on-campus German courses as well as for follow-up and continuous learning.
at your destination, so that you don`t have to bemoan the fact that your favourite winter coat or your swim things are sitting happily at home when you could really use them here.
Always carry a durable travel pouch when traveling.
--->>> Have fun & success during your language holiday abroad!
* These notes are based on our experience, and discussions with students and teachers of the TREFFPUNKT Language Institute - the Intensive German Course specialist for adults and executives.
The main aim is to give practical guidance for our future students learning German. But these tips are valid for all those planning a language course abroad.
You will find more tips in the comments of our former participants learning German below www.german-language-school-review.com (multi-lingual page).
Do you have further tips worth mentioning?
We would be grateful if you write to: firstname.lastname@example.org