Mail from Berlin: Meet NYU Berlin’s German Department

Liebe Studenten/innen!

To be at home – zu Hause sein. How does it feel to be at home in a new city, a new country, a new world? How can you make a new place your “home”?

At the NYU Berlin German Language Department, we strongly believe that learning a language is the most important tool when building a relationship with the city and its residents. Every semester, we are surprised, excited and, in the end, so happy to see how our students have managed to make Berlin their new home. Right now, we are planning YOUR German program for the upcoming Spring 2017 semester to support you as you learn and deepen your knowledge of the German language.

Fernandas Traumhaus – Fernandas Dream House; Intensive Elementary

Fernandas Traumhaus – Fernandas Dream House; Intensive Elementary

The German Program at NYU Berlin stands on two pillars: required German courses and a wide range of additional extracurricular language offerings, which are very helpful and fun. We offer German courses on all levels. You can take Elementary I & II, Intermediate I & II, Intensive Elementary, Intensive Intermediate, and post intermediate German language courses. As you can see below, the courses (and our students) are very creative.

Learning prepositions:

olivia

Olivia; Intensive Elementary

 

Intensive Elementary with Miriam Führer

Intensive Elementary with Miriam Führer

Learning the Body Parts:

Sam; Elementary I

Sam; Elementary I

As additional extracurricular language activities we offer

Tutorials for German Language Courses
NYU Berlin offers language-tutoring services for all German courses.

German Stammtisch
There’s no better way to improve your everyday German than by engaging with native speakers. German Stammtisch offers not only that, but also the chance to explore some of Berlin’s greatest cafés and restaurants!

Tandem-Exchange
What’s the best way to practice your German outside of the classroom? Find a tandem partner and chat, chat, chat!

 

Student Voices
Here is what our students have to say on the extracurricular activities that complement the classroom-based language learning:

Kyle, Intensive Elementary, on tutorials…
Kandice’s tutorials and tutoring sessions are extremely helpful! It’s great having her available for tutoring because we are able ask her questions and get more individualized attention specified around the areas we feel we need help in. It is also great to have different ways to think about/tackle new subjects or rules within the German language or just to ensure that there is clarity with the material covered in class. Test tutorials are extremely helpful because they tie up everything we’ve covered into a few pages and include descriptive examples and exercises that we can use to better assess if we are prepared for the upcoming test. I really recommend using Kandice’s services, even if just to practice. It’s extremely helpful.

Braden, Intensive Intermediate, and Kyle, Intensive Elementary, on German Stammtisch…
I love going to Stammtisch. It provides both a place to practice my German and a place to relax with friends, usually over food or drinks. Everyone is very accepting no matter what your German level is, and speaking even just a little German totally boosts your confidence with the language. When I came to Germany I knew VERY little German. Stammtisch has not only helped me learn German, it’s helped me learn German how people actually speak it. It can also be a good way to learn new parts of the city; I know personally I’ve discovered a few new good restaurants through Stammtisch. Overall, I am incredibly pleased with my Stammtisch experience and would suggest it to pretty much everyone planning to come to NYU Berlin.              

 I really like going to Stammtisch! Not only do I get to practice what I’ve learned outside of the classroom but it allows me to practice regular conversation. Minh Thi and Rega are phenomenal – they really help create an atmosphere where we can talk with each other and make mistakes in a completely judge-free zone. My highlight would have to be my very first Stammtisch meeting at Hans Im Glück. Funny story- I was able to order my meal completely in German but then I had to switch to English to ask where the rest room was! I definitely recommend it to anyone who’s looking to have a good time and eat lots of food at restaurants in Berlin while practicing German.

Raphael, German Tandem partner, Student at Free University Berlin on the Tandem-Exchange…
Having taken part in the tandem program four times, I have met fascinating and intelligent young people from the U.S. and elsewhere; and have exchanged ideas, interests, knowledge and cultural differences while having a coffee or a beer. I have been very lucky and fortunate to meet and make a very good American friend through this program. When I went to the U.S. last summer and visited NY, I was able to stay with him and his loveable, hospitable and amazing family for a couple of days and experienced the incredible American friendship and hospitality first-hand. This year, he is going to return to Germany with his family and I will have the chance to return that hospitality and friendship, which I’m very excited about!

 Toma, Intensive Intermediate on the Tandem Program
Once, a professor told me: “The best way to learn a language is to find a lover….” That might take some time to happen, but signing up for the tandem program is a great way not only to learn and practice German, but also to be introduced to Germany. I signed up spontaneously and somehow hesitantly. However, I quickly realized that this was a unique chance to make my first German friend here in Berlin.

 When I went to our first meeting and we introduced ourselves to each other, my tandem partner was curious to learn about my home city. Coming from a small town in Bulgaria, I was sure she would have never heard of it. But it turned out to be just the opposite as my tandem partner did her study abroad semester in a nearby town and had visited mine. It was a great coincidence that gave us a head start on getting to know each other. However, I think the main factor for the success of your tandem experience is being proactive, especially in the beginning.  Many of the Germans participating in the program are local students or young people who are busy with both work and studying. Thus, it is important to make that first step and reach out, introduce yourself and initiate the first meeting.

 My tandem partner and I meet every few weeks or sometimes even more often if there is an event happening that we are both interested in. I found it really helpful to have this first local acquaintance, as I was very new to Berlin and Germany. Indeed, the tandem program is not only a way to practice language, but also introduces you to the community you are living in. Furthermore, if you want to go beyond the usual touristy experience and explore the hidden places of Berlin, your tandem partner might be your best opportunity to do this.  Signing up for this program is one of the best decisions I have made here. From the beginning of my stay, I felt comfortable knowing that there is a person I could talk to when I needed an advice or simply when I wanted to leave the international environment and really immerse myself in the local culture and language. 

Instructor Voices: Meet Julia Buchholz, who teaches Intermediate Level!

NYU Berlin: Julia, you’re one of the German language instructors at NYU Berlin. What have you studied and how did you come to NYU Berlin?

Julia: Oh… that’s quite a long story. After finishing high school, I started thinking about where my strengths lie and what my personal interests are. What I knew for certain at that time was that I wanted to work with people from different cultural backgrounds. And so I eventually decided to major in translation, with Korean and Chinese as my first and second foreign languages, and to minor in business management and translation studies at the University of Bonn. Since I couldn’t speak either of those languages at that time, I had to learn both from the ground up and began practicing through tandem exchanges with fellow students from Korea and China. In 2002, I traveled to Korea as an exchange student for the first time and fell in love with the country and culture so much that I began contemplating ways to return and live and work there for a while after completing my studies. This led me to take on additional studies in Teaching German as a Foreign Language as I thought it would be enriching to not only mediate language and culture through texts, but also in the classroom.

In my opinion, timing and luck play an important role in life. And so it came to be that in 2007 I was given the wonderful opportunity to teach German for three years in the Department of German Language Education at Seoul National University’s College of Education. Having arrived back in Germany afterwards, married and with my Korean husband by my side, we first moved to Hamburg and then, in the summer of 2012, to Berlin. Timing again played an important roll. I’d already heard about NYU in Korea from a DAAD lector who had previously taught at NYU’s Deutsches Haus and also had an acquaintance who taught at NYU. And so I applied to NYU Berlin and was able to begin as a tutor in 2012. In the following semester, I took on my own course.
NYU Berlin: Which level are you currently teaching? How do you organize your course? And what do you like about teaching?

Julia: At the moment, I teach Intermediate I and Intermediate II. I enjoy teaching this level because the students can already express quite a lot in German. This allows us to deepen what has already been learned and to expand on it as the semester evolves.

In my courses, we deal with everyday topics that relate to the lives of the students: their experiences in Berlin and larger Germany, as well as current societal topics and the ways they shape German culture. In order to do so, we work on building our vocabularies and learn the necessary grammar. At the same time, I do my best to cater to different types of learners through diversified exercises, so that students can successfully learn the language and and have fun.

What I like the most about teaching is interacting with my students and getting to see how there is always a noticeable difference from the beginning to the end of the semester. And on top of that, I also learn so much each semester.

NYU Berlin: Do you have a message to all the new NYU Berliners?

Julia: I would like to tell all the new NYU Berliners to open their hearts and minds to the great experience of studying abroad. And, of course, to learning German! It will be lots of fun.

Tutor Voices: Meet Minh-Thi & Rega, our Stammtisch Facilitators!

 NYU Berlin: So Minh-Thi, Rega, you’ve been organizing the German Stammtisch for our NYU students for a few semesters now. Maybe you could briefly tell us a bit about yourself.

M&R: We are both medical students at the Charité here in Berlin. For us (Minh-Thi, 24, and Rega, 22), meeting new NYU students, showing them around Berlin, and conversing with them in German has always been such a great pleasure. That’s why we continue organizing the German Stammtisch.

NYU Berlin: How would you describe the Stammtisch meetings? What can students expect from the weekly meetings in the evenings?

M&R: The main goal is to combine practicing German and exploring Berlin. Once a week, typically Tuesdays from 8-10pm, all of us meet in a nice café or restaurant. The students get to meet new people, have fun, and improve their German over some delicious dinner or drinks. The German Stammtisch gives them a chance to apply their grammatical skills acquired in class to real-life situations. There are no rules on which topics to cover, we are very flexible and student’s wishes are always heard. The only rule is: Speaking German only! After all, this is the best way for students to improve their conversational German.

NYU Berlin: What’s your philosophy in regards to supporting students in learning German?

M&R: Learning by doing! This entails practice, practice and practice. What better way to do this than in a fun environment with cool people? We understand that some students, especially those in elementary German, might feel intimidated or shy to join the German Stammtisch. But worry not, we can assure you from experience that this never caused a problem and that all students had significantly improved their speaking skills by the end of the semester. That is of course, if they had regularly attended the German Stammtisch…

NYU Berlin: Do you have a special message for all of the new Berliners arriving in Spring 2017?

M&R: Be ready for a fantastic semester! The staff at NYU Berlin is phenomenal and will always do their best to make your stay pleasant and memorable. Almost like a second family away from home.

We are thrilled and cannot wait to see you all at the German Stammtisch!

And finally, convince yourself how much fun learning German can be. NYU Berlin students Matt Bond and Ian Korer produced this film as part of their class presentation: http://vimeo.com/82522149.

Ganz viele Grüße aus Berlin

Euer German Department der NYU Berlin!

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