We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

speaking the language

Kingston-upon-Hull...
Level Contributor
1,093 posts
79 reviews
Save Topic
speaking the language

we are taking two 14 yr old girls to berlin for a long weekend. main reason is to try and get some practice for THEM at speaking the language as they are studying germna in school, and have an exam at the end of the year. Alsow at to take in some art as thats another subject we are trying to "work" on. any suggestions, either to things to do or places to stay? hotel ? or somehwre where they might be germans staying and the environment might encourage some communication..

thanks.

UK
Level Contributor
220 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: speaking the language

This is a dificult one to answer and I feel you mustn't expect too much from a long weekend. Perhaps returning if you like it and renting an apartment for a week or two in a suburb where there is more contact with local people would be a future option? Surprisingly I have a 19 year old who has been navigating his own way around Berlin on his own since the age of 12, but still did poorly at GCSE. in contrast, our 15 year old who is less confident about speaking whilst there is predicted A*. If you feel you can pluck up the courage, try and let them go out on their own and find their own way around. Berlin is a very safe city and as long as they take usual big city precautions they should be fine.( my daughter never encountered any problems in her teens) how do you get them to speak German? Maybe with difficulty - bear in mind as with other European cities many working in service industries aren't local anyway. Having said which the local Turkish population speak good German, but slightly more slowly which can be good for learners. Unfortunately most younger Berlin people automatically sense you are English and change to it. They won't be offended if asked to speak in German but 'langsam' (slowly). You may find older German people who work in shops/ station enquiry offices(BVG/S-Bahn)/ museums/ post offices are less likely to speak English. Also, the further east you go in the city (or outside to places such as Potsdam) the more non-English speakers you tend to find, so maybe stay in that area? another good incentive is to give them some money to spend on clothes or other desirable items and try and do this at a department store such as Karstadt where they have to ask questions. as regards art there are a lot of options - the most likely being the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Neu Nationalgalerie.Don't overdo it! - try and let them have a good time and then they'll want to come back!

Berlin, Germany
9 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: speaking the language

Yep, tall order.

When I first arrived, I found I got the most practice (outside of talking to folks at parties) by:

*Ordering food in a restaurant and paying the bill

*Asking directions, when things open/close

*Asking where particular items in a grocery store were and answering questions at check-out

I'd say just encourage them to ask strangers, concierges, museum guides, etc. questions about different things to get them comfortable speaking and understanding others.

Possibly forego the map and the guidebook at bit to rely more on others for information.

You can often get away with just sentence fragments, but encourage them to speak the full sentence to work on agreement, conjugation, etc..

Have fun!

Kingston-upon-Hull...
Level Contributor
1,093 posts
79 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: speaking the language

one good thing to our advantage is that us two adults have not a word of german, so the kids cant rely on us. ;)

Bellevue, WA
Level Contributor
529 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: speaking the language

Germans tend to be very reserved and unused to speaking with strangers. You might try staying in a youth hostel to meet up with a younger crowd who might open up more. Rather than staying in Berlin, which is likely to fill up with foreigners, stay in a small town nearby that might attract more Germans.

Most towns in Germany have terrific municipal swimming complexes. That's another place your girls could meet young people.

If you aren't necessarily set on Berlin, three small towns I enjoyed in the south that seemed to attract few foreigners were Kaufering, Miltenberg, and Regensburg.

Good luck!

Bob

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Berlin
Level Contributor
20,004 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: speaking the language

The main problem everywhere can be that people hear an English accent and launch into English when you want to practise German. Really affected me badly in Austria pre A-Levels (Was my German SO bad?) and even now, speaking fluent German it occasionally happens (the same in Barcelona). Very frustrating!

When we stayed in a family-run hotel in Austria a couple of years ago I explained that I wanted my son to be able to practice German and he was given the chance (and pulled up on his using informal"du"!). I think in large hotels it depends very much on individual staff.

However in Berlin my husband (who has about 20 words in German) is surprised by how little English the majority of people do speak and I agree that asking for something in a supermarket, small grocer's etc would be a way to start esp. once slightly off tourist routes.

Going outside Berlin into eastern Germany where they get hardly any non-German tourists would certainly mean someone HAD to have German!

Art depends what you like obviously: French and German impressionists in Alte Nationalgalerie on Museum Island might be a start; also lots of paintings of 19th century Berlin there. Hamburger Bahnhof is contemporary art and not where I personally wd suggest to get someone started. Neue Nationalgalerie has temporary exhibs; currently French paintings from the Metropolitan in New York.

Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
1,200 posts
112 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: speaking the language

Can I make another suggestion.......I'm sure there will be a German Berlin forum on here....could you maybe get them to go on the forum in German and ask about Berlin and do some research for the trip too? The forums are German, and people will answer in German!

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Berlin
Level Contributor
20,004 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: speaking the language

Actually only 5 posts on German forum on Berlin! But yes, it is an idea: maybe get the forum really up and moving (to access it click on German flag at bottom of the page)

8. Re: speaking the language

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 09 September 2009, 12:23