If you're already learning German then you'll be very familiar with a few words, the most important of which is 'die Pause', right?! Well... I guess teacher, classroom and workbook are equally important too... oh, and homework.
There are a lot of ways to learn German but to give yourself a proper dose of German learning there's nothing like committing to lessons every week. So if your New Year's Resolution is to make yourself a little more understood on the streets of Germany, then here are some words and a little bit of advice.
Let's get started
First things first, you'll need to decide on which school you want to go to and which level you're at. There's a ton of schools in Germany, so search in your neighbourhood or ask around your friends for recommendations. Most schools do either intensive lessons in the morning or the afternoon which cover a level in a month (or a couple of weeks if it's really intensive) or evening classes that last a few months.
I had the privilege of collaborating with Goethe Institut at the end of last year. They have German Language schools across the globe, as well as across Germany, so even if you're not in Germany yet, you can still take lessons. If you don't know what level you're at they'll give you a test to test your knowledge. Don't worry, it's not too scary.
So you've got your place at your school and it's your first day. There's a few things you'll need—your course book, your work book (if you're at Goethe Institut the school will supply it but you might need to buy it beforehand at other schools), a notebook, a dictionary (get LEO on your phone if you don't want to carry one around with you), a pencil and, most importantly, a big smile because there's a whole load of new friends you're about to meet.
So you're all ready to meet some new buddies. But wait, you're also learning German. It's time to get serious. My most important tip? Take the time to do your homework. Be diligent about practicing the latest ridiculously difficult grammar rule you haven't quite got to grips with yet, yeah, you know the ones I'm talking about. My second most important tip? If you are there to make friends then make sure you head out of the classroom during the break to mingle. Learning German can be full-on so it's also good to take the time to clear your mind.
If you're at Goethe Institut then you'll also have access to their Media library which is an excellent resource for brushing up on the language in a fun way in your own time... yes, I did just use the word 'fun' with German learning. Talking of fun, if you choose to do an intensive course with Goethe Institut then you also get the added benefit of getting to go on German-speaking tours of the city. It's a great way to get to know your new city and to meet some of the fascinating locals.
Many hours of German learning later...
Congratulations, you've completed your course and you've got the little bit of paper to confirm it. So, on to the next one? In the (almost) 3 years that I've been here I've done a few months of intensive learning before needing a little break. There's nothing wrong with taking some time out from German lessons, just make sure you keep practicing what you learned so you don't quickly forget it all!
Good luck in your German learning adventure. If you have any questions then I'd be more than happy to help, just ask in the comments below.
In collaboration with Goethe Institut