Learning German during Relocation to Germany

Today in our globalised world relocation has become an option for many people who now have the chance to change the course of their life; moving, working, and living in another country. Change is rarely easy, but with hard work comes great rewards.


For some time, you were looking for a job in Germany. You applied, had several interviews and YES, you receive the job offer you have been waiting for – finally, the big day has come! Now your relocation journey really begins, as the dream and ambition become a reality. If you are moving to a country where you are already fluent in the language, then you can, to a certain degree, relax, but if you are moving somewhere that the main language is foreign to you (and your family) you can foresee where the challenges might lie and you realise perhaps, just perhaps, you should have started those language lessons sooner.

Maybe you understand a little German. But can you speak it? did you take classes a school?  how many years ago? Can you listen to the locals talking, with their natural speed of speech, with everyone talking at once and in their regional accents? Or will you be starting from zero, with a simple “hello – hallo” and “thank you – dankeschön”? Of course, your job application was likely done in English, but is it a good idea to rely on your new country speaking your language?

Learning German during relocation and starting a German course

Nowadays, companies give importance that new expat employees can speak and understand the local language. I mention “speaking” and “understanding” separately because these are really two different things. You may understand a language, the general conversation, but did you pick up on the finer details? When it comes to speaking many people are afraid of making mistakes, keeping their answers short and basic, they are shy and don’t want to talk. Companies give importance to these two things because they want the employee to contribute and help to build more durable bridges between the local industry and the company. Without encouragement and support to practice your language skills how can you gain confidence in the new country you now call home?

The connection between language and culture

Language and culture go hand in hand, when you start to learn a language, automatically you should learn about the culture, lifestyle, and traditions of that country, region, or even town. The language-culture relationship will become more important the longer you have resided in your new country. When you arrive, there are many tasks to do: start work, find a house, residency/tax paperwork, etc, but over time as things are completed you will start to live. You will meet German friends, you will go shopping, join clubs or groups, you will be invited to join special days to celebrate.  In order to have a natural conversation with them, it is good to know not only the language but also its application within the culture in which you are living.

How to Learn German?

In order to learn German, the first and most important thing is to make some friends with whom you can really only speak in German – I am sure that they will help you a lot. Secondly, you need to find a professional German language course provider. Some companies offer language courses within their relocation packages, so they may have an approved list of companies that they work in partnership with. Bicortex is one such language provider, with offices located in Wolfsburg Germany, and operations globally. It offers both group and private courses where you can learn German from the very basics or develop your current German knowledge. Eszett not only provides face-to-face classes but also online classes via their purpose-built virtual classroom. Their native teachers are used to working with busy professionals and their families, providing classes based on your personal learning goals and schedule needs.

Ilona A. Keilich

Ilona founded ExpatsGuide in 2010, a Destination Service Provider in Germany servicing international clientele moving to and from Germany. She holds MBA in International Business and has gained, as one a few mobility professionals in Germany, the GMS designation (Global Mobility Specialist) of Worldwide ERC. Personally, Ilona has lived in four European countries and contributes often to global mobility magazines and media.

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