10 months from zero to B2 in German (I studied outside Germany)

• Introduction

I studied the German language here in Jordan. It took me less than ten months. I began from zero as I had never studied German before. I studied in average not less than 20 days a month for not less than 5 hours a day. I took the B2 test of Goethe-Institut in Jordan and scored 77.5. To pass it, you need at least a mark of 60, including passing the oral exam part.


• Studying German in a private institute

💡 If you choose to study in a private institute, the German levels are eight: 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 it all in eight months.

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I studied five out of the eight required levels in a private institute here in Jordan (Language Generation Center). The institute is among the top best in Amman. However, Goethe-Institut is the best and cheapest place to learn German because it is non-profit as the German government supports it. It aims to spread the German language and culture rather than gain money. For almost the same amount of money (+/- 5 JD), you are given in Goethe-Institut at least 15 extra hours of teaching.

🇩🇪 What is Goethe institute?


•  Goethe-Institut

However, at Geothe-Institut, you live in a German atmosphere as only German is allowed in the classes (starting from A1.1), and 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-Institut. You can meet and talk with them inside Goethe-Institut. Moreover, like a friend of mine, you can become friends and start hanging out together. My friend visited them in their house and even slept in their house too. In addition, at Goethe-Institut, you can meet German people who are learning Arabic and want language exchange partners. Goethe-Institut would help to connect the German learners with the Arabic learners. Moreover, Goethe-Institut 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-Institut. Therefore, as happened with a colleague of mine, he said that a teacher “who loved him” was responsible for administering the oral exam to him. According to my friend, she helped him a 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 in what is required in exams and would tell the students about the common mistakes that students commit. On the other hand, there are disadvantages of Goethe-Institut. Firstly, you have to wait for a month or two before being able to register for the A1.1 course (mostly in the summer). Secondly, the lecture times are not very flexible, and some courses are in the morning time. Thirdly, you have a lot of home works 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 home works are necessary for learning especially writing]. Lastly, some argue that a lot of time is wasted in Goethe-Institut 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-Institut.

In addition to the five courses, I took a preparatory course for the B2 exam with a private teacher here in Amman. She is called Noora (I forgot 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 books I studied

– A1-B1: Studio D series. They are great.

– B2: Aspekta B2. This is great too, especially the summarizing pages at the end of the book.


• Preparation (In addition to the books)

I studied a lot of online material on YouTube, especially from:


– Extra Deutsch and Muzzy Deutsch. Watch them with subtitles on this channel. The expressions and words in them are basically more than enough for the B2 level.

Extra Deutsch


– German from the Streets: This is advanced as the people sometimes speak in colloquial language.


• German-learning YouTube channels that I recommend

🇩🇪 http://www.youtube.com/user/DeutschOnlineLernen

🇩🇪 http://www.youtube.com/user/DeutschFuerEuch

🇩🇪 http://www.youtube.com/user/germanpod101

🇩🇪 http://www.youtube.com/user/ArchStandon

🇩🇪 http://www.youtube.com/user/ziescheelearning


• Learn German by watching movies

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 movies, 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. Here is a link.

I recommend the following movies


• Learn German by listening to songs

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 Christians out there, the 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

Because this is an interesting method, we wrote a detailed article about it:

🇩🇪 Enjoy learning German: Through songs


• Online dictionaries

Online dictionaries that I used: Dict.ccLeoDudenLinguee, 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 the 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 of sentences. Sometimes, even if you translated each and every word in a sentence, you will not understand what it says. Google Translate and Linguee can help. Linguee is different from Google in that it searches for texts translated by humans and shows you how they were translated.


• Reading and watching German news and articles

• At the 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 to 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. 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 about 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 on the website.


• Practice writing in German

To improve your writing: Always practice writing in the German language. At the beginning of my learning, writing an email of three sentences 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. To have 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.

🇩🇪 korrekturen.de/rechtschreibpruefung.shtml

🇩🇪 rechtschreibpruefung24.de


• Practice language with other people

• 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 teach 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 a free Ad that I put in this website for expatriates (www.expatriates.com) (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 different categories for Ads. One of them is for language exchange. The Ads expire after 60 days. Therefore, you need to repost your Ad again.

• I tried to find language exchange partners online. However, I find many people who are not serious and it is very common to see people, especially young, who are learning multiple 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 you time as you do not have to teach a language 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:

🇩🇪 http://www.mylanguageexchange.com

🇩🇪 http://www.conversationexchange.com

🇩🇪 http://www.sharedtalk.com

🇩🇪 http://polyglotclub.com

🇩🇪 http://www.language-exchanges.org

🇩🇪 www.interpals.net

• I had more than 50 German friends on Facebook. I talked with two of them for a total 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 friendship requests. Such pages and groups usually have “Börse” in their names. Search in Google for “Börse Freunde”. However, you need to be careful as few of these Facebook accounts are fake. I do not know what people benefit from that. An example group:

🇩🇪 Freunde & Abonnenten Börse


• Useful sites:

• 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”

• This is a group of me for medical doctors wanting to specialize or study master’s and PhD in Germany: “Doctors in Germany“.


• 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. You can find the articles 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 are very interesting.

• “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.

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