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Good value alternative to Goethe Institute

Neil, 43, from Ireland – September 26, 2014

Stay: 4 weeks, Course Start: 2014 , Accomodation:

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The Good & the Bad - what did you like best? What least?

My goal in taking this course is towards a personal aim to develop my German to B2 standard which the Common European Reference Framework(CERF) defines as: 'You are able to participate in demanding discussions’. My goal in achieving this standard is to work in a company in Germany with German clients where a good grasp of the language is essential and also deal with German bureaucracy - Finazamt, Burgeramt etc.

I have been trying to learn German for 10 years on and off. My first experience was with terrible teachers hired by the company I worked for who never explained the basics of Grammar and which I have never felt I had a good grasp of. I have also taken 2 intensive courses at the Goethe institute which is of very high qualityI have a large vocabulary of German but little confidence in grammar or speaking.

What went well -

The GLS campus is excellent situated in a great location on Kastianallee, Prenzlauer Berg. The class rooms are modern, clean and well lit with excellent digital whiteboards and audio/video technology. Its a great environment to learn in.

The quality of teaching is generally of a high standard, although some tutors are obviously more experienced and have a better pedagogic approach building in blocks and focussing on weaknesses. Some tutors perhaps talked to fast for me to comprehend at times.

GLS, like all German schools in Germany, uses a ‘total immersion’ method of teaching ie. all instruction and explanation is completely in German. This makes sense with pupils from all over the world but to me it is extremely problematic at times to understand the tutor’s instructions and grammar explanations are very difficult / incomprehensible. I found one tutor would get very angry with me if I did not know certain Grammar rules (accusative, dative etc) which I had never learnt formally only through referring to a Grammar book myself.

To me the teaching of Grammar is superficial and weak at GLS although admittedly no worse than other course I have done (e.g.. intensive course at Goethe Institute). I strongly recommend that students invest in a good book on German Grammar with explanations in their own language. I found this a great help. For native English speakers I recommend the excellent 'Easy Learning German Grammar (Collins)’ I think students should be recommended a Grammar book with their welcome pack to the school.

I recommend students who seriously want to learn German to avoid the ‘peak’ Summer season as this is mainly attended by school leavers in their 20s who seem to be uncommitted to the teaching and mainly disappearing into the Berlin ‘party vortex’. However as one proceeds to more advanced levels of instruction the students are more mature and committed to the course (level A2 +) .

As I mentioned I have attended the Goethe Institute (the Rolls Royce of German language schools) and comparing to GLS (which costs about half the price) I think GLS represents good value and there is little to differentiate the quality of teaching. The GLS campus and facilities are overall better than Goethe Institute. GLS could still benefit from a better library with books / novels organised by language ability for students.

We received homework which was not to time consuming taking me on average about 45 minutes per day. In comparison my homework at Goethe institute would take 2-3 hours per day. Frankly I think 45 minutes homework is enough!

Your recommendations for other students

- Research and buy a good German grammar book in your own language

- Avoid peak season - July - mid August (and save 40 euro per week!)

- Turn up for your classes

- Do your homework

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