I studied the German langauge here in Jordan. It took me less than ten months. I began from zero as I had never studied the German langauge before. I studied in average not less than 20 days a month for not less than 10 hours a day. I took the B2 test of Goethe Institute in Jordan and scored 77.5. To pass it, you need at least a mark of 60, including passing the oral exam part. Read more details about this exam based on my experience of taking a mock test (Probeprüfung) of it:
If you are to study in an language center, the German levels are eight until B2: A1.1, A1.2, A2.1., A2.2., B1.1, B1.2., B2.1 and B2.2. If you are taking intensive lessons, then each level lasts one month. You will finish all in eight months.
I studied five out of the eight required levels in a private institute here in Jordan (Language Generation Center). The institute is the best, or at least among the top best, in Amman. However, Goethe Institute is the best and cheapest place to learn German because it is non-profit as it is supported by the German government. That is to say, it aims at spreading the German language and culture rather than gaining money. For almost the same amount of money (+/- 5 JD), you are given in Goethe at least 15 extra hours of teaching.[You can also in my post about the sample test get an idea of the attitude of the head of Goethe Institue in Jordan about students paying 120 JD to take the B2 exam despite having a low German level. Would not a profit-oriented institute be happy about people taking exams as many times as they like?]
Moroever, in Geothe Institute, you live in a German atmosphere as only German is allowed in the classes (starting from A1.1), the teachers are mostly German or from a German-speaking country (Austria and Switzerland). All the teachers have C1 certificates and spend at least one year in training before they are allowed to teach. Moreover, throughout the year, there are German university students doing training as voluntary work in Goethe. You can meet and talk with them inside Goethe. Moroever, like a friend of mine, you can become friends and start hanging out togehter. My friend visited them in their house and even slept in their house too. In addition, in Goethe, you can meet German people who are learning Arabic and want language exchange partners. Goethe would help to connect the German learners with the Arabic learners. Moreover, Goethe has a large library from which you can borrow books, videos and audio material [Annual subscription is 2 JD (<3 USD)]. Finally, the examiners of the B2 test are mostly teachers from Goethe. Therefore, as happened with a colleague of mine, he said that a teacher “which loved him” was responsible for administering the oral exam to him. According to my friend, she helped him a little bit. Putting this experience aside, I think it is best to be taught by teachers who administer a certain exam. Such teachers would be experienced of what is required in exams and would tell the students about the common mistakes that students committ. On the other hand, there are disadvantages of Goethe. Firstly, you have to wait for a month or two before being able to register for A1.1 course (mostly in summer time). Secondly, the lecture times are not very flexible and some courses are in morning time. Thirdly, you have a lot of homeworks and if you do not pass a level by getting a mark of at least 70, then you need to repeat it [In my opinion, this is an advantage because you are forced to study hard and homeworks are necessary for learning especially writing]. Lastly, some argue that a lot of time is wasted in Goethe on culture- and custom-related issues and these are not important for passing the language exam. All in all, if you have a flexible schedule, then I highly recommend Goethe.
In addition to the five courses, I took a preparatory course for the B2 exam at private teacher here in Amman. She is called Noora (I forgto the family name). She is excellent as she taught us tips and tricks for taking the B2 exam. Moreover, she helped me a lot to develop my writing.
• The currciulum I studied:
– A1-B1: Studio D series. They are great.
– B2: Aspekta B2. This is great too especially the sumarrizing pages at the end of the book.
Preparation (In addition to the curriculum):
• I studied a lot of online material on YouTube, especially:
– Extra Deutsch and Muzzy Deutsch. Watch them with subtitles in this channel and download this whole YouTube channel using this program. The expressions and words in them are basically more than enough for the B2 level.
– German from the Streets: This is advanced as the people sometimes speak in colloquial language.
Extra Deutsch: From the number of YouTube views, this is the most famous show for teaching the German langauge. The show is in the style of the famous American comedy series “Friends”. Therefore, it is very funny and you watch the videos not only to learn, but more importantly, to laugh! The only disadvantage is that the pronunciation by one of the main charcters, Sam (An American who is a beginner in German) is very horrible. You cannot learn good pronunciation from him at all.
• German-learning YouTube channels that I recommend:
# http://www.youtube.com/user/barcelada [It contains many series. I recommend a BBC series about a Romanian immigrant in Germany. It is very interesting and informative. This is a link to its playlist in this channel]
• I watched German movies with subtitles: This was not very helpful as the language is very hard. However, when you are bored and want to watch something, then it is certainly better if it is in German. Nonetheless, compared with Hollywood movie, most movies do not contain high technology and video effects. Some are boring and silly too. This is expected as I read that about 100 new German movies are only produced each year. There are tens of full-length German movies on YouTube. Her is a link.
I recommend these:
– Das Leben des Anderen, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hllyMOGVzvI, this is one of the best movies I watched in my life. If you are to watch only one German movie, then I recommend this. This YouTube version unfortunately does not contain subtitles.
– Good Bye Lennin, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoinsDXZ59c. This is a comedy movie and is funny. More importantly, it gives an idea about the situation in Germany after the fall of wall of Berlin.
• I heard a lot of songs. I searched YouTube for the German word for songs (Lieder). This is a Link to the YouTube search for Lieder. I chose the songs to hear based on the number of views and positive ratings. Moreover, I watched the top charts of German songs to discover the best songs because the number of views is not enough to find all the best songs (link). Overall, I did not enjoy more than 5% of the songs. Probably because I am not a big fan of music. I compiled a YouTube Playlist of the songs I most like:
For Chirsitans out there, following is a playlist of the German hymns that I most liked. I am not a religious person. However, it is not easy to get bored of hearing “Jingle Bells” or “Silent Night”! Even in German 🙂
Tip: You can search google for the name of the song and “lyrics english translation”. For example, to read the German lyrics and their English translation of the song “In meinem Leben”, search google for “In meinem leben lyrics english translation” (link to this google search).
• Online dictionaires that I used: Dict.cc, Leo, Duden, Linguee and Google Translate. Dict.cc and Leo are German-English and vice versa. They are useful because they give the gender and plural forms of words, in addition to conjugation of verbs. Duden is German-German and it is like the Oxford Dictionary of German. Concerning Google Translate, some say that it is not accurate and discourage using it. However, unlike dictionaries, Google translate, along with Linguee, are the only two services that allow you to understand the meaning sentences. Sometimes, even if you translated each and every word in a setence, you will not understand what it says. Google Translate and Linguee can help. Linguee is different from Google in that it searches in texts translated by humans and show you how they were translated.
• At advanced level, I started reading a lot of German news and articles. I spent at least one month just reading articles. It was the most interesting and useful part of my German language learning. This is mainly because I started reading about topics I like and not being restricted with boring topics in books. The full details are in this post:
• I watched a lot of German TV channels. I benefited from this a lot. Read this detailed post about how I initially tried online source but ended up buying a satellite. I did not understand anything most of the time. Even now. However, you only need to listen and with time you start to understand more and more. There is another advantage to watching TV. If you have ZDF and Euronews channels, then you can surf their websites and read similar or exact articles of what is aired. The website of ZDF channel (www.heute.de) contains articles that are highly similar in their words and content to what is aired. The website of Euronews (de.euronews.com), however, has transcripts of what is aired. I was surprised to discover that. The reports on TV are totally written as articles in the website.
• To improve yourself in writing: Practice always writing in the German language. At the beginning of my learning, writing an email of three setences took me more than half an hour. Writing an email was a very painful task. Moreover, I began blogging in German and started a diary in Germany, which now has a separate section in my blog (link). To have a good feedback about your writing, there are two online websites that will correct your writing for free. They are not 100% accurate but they help you discover a lot of mistakes:
– http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibpruefung-online: This is a part of Duden’s website and is free. However, you are limited to 800 characters per text. You can divide your texts into multiple blocks. Microsoft Word gives you the chance to know the number of characters in a selected text.
• I met in real life Germans who are learning Arabic and we were language exchange partners. I spent more than 100 hours with Germans teaching them and they teaching me. I met three of them at the University of Jordan (UJ). I had a library subscription there. The UJ has a famous Arabic learning center and about 5-8 Germans come there every semester to learn Arabic. Moreover, I came to know an Austrian friend through an free Ad that I put in this website for expatriates (www.expatriates.de) (an expatriate is someone who lives in a country not his for work, learning, tourism, etc.). There is a special page for every city in the world. The page of every city has differnt categories for Ads. One of them is for language exchange. For example, this page contains the current Ads for language exchange in Ammans. The Ads expire after 60 days. Therefore, you need to repost your Ad again. This post in my Blog contains the text of an Ad that I once placed.
• I tried to find language exchange partners online. However, I find many people not serious and it is very common to see people, especially young, who are learning multiples languages simultaneously (some six or even seven!!!). I sent a lot of messages and got few responses. All in all, if you want to get to know German-speaking people, then you can make friends on Facebook. This will save your time as you do not have to teach a langauge to them. These people are just interested to have friends from “all over the world”. See the next paragraph for more details.
Language exchange sites. Be careful as some of them limit the number of messages you can send, or do not even allow you to send any messages at all:
• I had more than 50 German friends on Facebook. I talked with two of them for a toal of 10 hours on Skype in German. I got to know them through Facebook groups and pages for friendship. There are pages and groups where you can find German-speaking people who announce that they welcome frindship requests. Such pages an groups usually has “Börse” in their names. Here is a Facebook search for “Börse Freunde”. However, you need to be careful as few of these facebook account are fake. I do not know what people benefit from that.
An example group: “Freunde & Abonnenten Börse“
– DW Learn German, http://www.dw.de/learn-german/german-courses/s-2547
– Learn German by about.com, http://german.about.com
– German is easy! | The blog for all who want to learn German, http://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/
Useful Facebook pages and groups:
– There are tens of facebook groups and pages. I rarely used them. The most professional one in my opinion is this one: “DW – Learn German”
– Facebook search for “Learning German”: Link.
– This is a group of me for medical doctors wanting to specialize or study master and PhD in Germany: “Doctors Going to Germany“.
Websites for German Books and Magazines:
• www.ebook-hell.to: This website is specialized with German books. *****
• www.almanii.blogspot.com: The best website. It has almost the most famous books, videos, dictionaries, and software. *****
• www.magazinesdownload.org/category/german: German magazines section of this specialized magazines website.
• uz-translations.net: Videos, full books (with MP3), CDs, Very good. You need to get a free account to be able to make downloads. There are sections for other languages like English, French, and Spanish *****
• www.theeducationlounge.blogspot.com: Limited books, but there are videos, audio CDs, language learning programs, etc. Similar to uz-translations but with limited content.
• www.eng.bookfi.org: This famous website is not dedicated to German books nor does it mention that it has German books. However, I could find many German books in it.
Useful Books to read: Before learning a new language, consider reading some articles and books about how a person learns a new language. In addition, consider reading articles about learning the German language. I read multiple articles and two books. The articles you can find them using a google search. The two books that I highly recommend are:
# “Polyglot: How I learn languages“: This book was written by a Hungarian woman who spoke 15 languages. She was described as the most lingual woman who ever lived. Her books is very interesting. It is available for download free here.
# “The Word Brain: A Short Guide to Fast Language Learning“: This book was written by a famous person in medicine-related publications. He speaks more than six languages. His book is short and can be finished quickly. The author distributes his book free and has a website for this book. You can download the book from its site here.