Learning English as an expat in Germany: Tips for beginners

Learning English as an expat in Germany: Tips for beginners

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Learning English as an expat in Germany: Tips for beginners

If you are an expat living in Germany, you’ve probably already thought about learning German. But have you considered brushing up on your English? explain how learning English can also have a positive impact on your life. They share their tips for beginners and show how Skype can be a great alternative to classroom-based learning.

English is the third most spoken language in the world - so it is no surprise that it is a valuable asset to have, wherever you are. From huge corporations to smaller, international companies, many employers with multinational employees choose to have English as their internal language. Being able to speak English at a business level can therefore greatly affect your professional growth and career prospects.

But what does learning English actually look like and require? As an English teacher with experience tutoring children, teenagers and adults alike, both in face-to-face and online settings, I have put together an informative collection of tips and information for you!

The straightforward and the challenging parts of learning English

Learning any language can be overwhelming and it can be hard to know where to begin, but luckily, English is a surprisingly easy language to learn, despite its bad reputation!

What are the easy aspects of learning English?

First of all, unlike many other languages like French or German, there is no case or gender system in English, which means you won’t ever have to wonder if a chair is masculine or feminine.

Secondly, verb conjugation is simple in regular forms. Most verbs have just two forms in the present tense and one form in the past tense. Almost all other tenses are formed with helper verbs (I will work, I had worked). The good news? Once you master the basics of grammar, everything that you build on that foundation of knowledge is easier.

Also, it has to be said that there is a huge amount of pop culture based in the English language - including TV shows, movies, music and books. These can be great tools for English learners, as the amount of content you can use to assist your learning is massive, meaning you’ll always be stimulated and entertained.

I always encourage my students to practice their English outside the classroom, and watching TV, listening to music and reading are all fantastic ways to not only collect new bits of vocabulary, but also to practice your listening and comprehension skills.

What about challenges?

Probably the most frightening aspect of language learning for anyone is the dreaded grammar. English is made more complex by its hundreds of irregular verbs that don’t follow any rules. Learners simply have to memorise them, which can lead to confusion between the different past tenses.

In my experience, teaching students from a wide range of backgrounds and native languages, once the initial feeling of being overwhelmed by the prospect of having to memorise irregular verbs has passed, they actually begin to use them correctly - especially after sustained exposure to authentic texts, listening tasks and speaking practice. It all starts to come together naturally in a much shorter time frame than you might imagine!

Word order also presents challenges when learning any foreign language and English is no exception. There are rules that can be learned to a certain point, but there are also nuances to the language that simply have to be learned over time through reading and listening to native speakers. For example, you can say “a big, blue desk” but it does not sound correct if you say, “a blue, big desk”. These nuances come into play at a higher level of learning and the satisfaction students derive from picking them up is immense.

Depending on what your native language is, pronunciation can also cause confusion and require plenty of practice for learners at every level. In some languages, words are read as they are written, letter for letter. In English, however, there are different ways of pronouncing words that are similarly formed (“through” versus “tough”, for example) and silent letters can appear at the beginning, middle and even the end of some words!

Available resources

With all of the technology available at our fingertips nowadays, the options for learning English are seemingly endless. With YouTube, mobile apps and even video courses out there, you can quickly become inundated and struggle to choose the best learning tool for yourself.

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or already nearing an advanced level of English, working with a teacher can provide invaluable support and help you to achieve your goals more quickly and efficiently. Arguably, the best choices are either in-person courses at a language school or via Skype.

The advantages of using Skype to learn English

With busy modern life, hectic schedules and limited free time, finding the capacity to attend the same English class, at a physical location, at the same time every week can be challenging. With work and family obligations, many students struggle to commit to an extended course in a school, which can also be expensive.

A great and increasingly popular alternative is using Skype as a tool to learn any language and, with lots of advantages you may not have considered, it’s easy to see why!

An innovative tool, Skype allows for the teacher to share all of the endless resources on the internet, using visuals, videos, flashcards and live-editing documents to present the language to you in exciting ways. Don’t think that you will be a spectator in Skype lessons! You will interact with your teacher from day one, which converts to fast learning and a dynamic lesson every time!

Your teacher can also completely personalise the curriculum, to make sure that all the topics and contexts covered in your lessons align with your personality, interests, work situations and social needs.

Crucially, using Skype means that you are mobile and flexible. Got time between work meetings or on your lunch break? Or perhaps while your children are at school? Great! You can make productive use of your time, as all that is needed is a good internet connection and headphones, or a quiet space!

Looking ahead

Whatever path you choose to take, make sure that you have carved out the time in your life to really pursue it seriously and that you have taken a moment to choose the right way to learn. Learning English can be incredibly rewarding and will certainly improve your life as an expat exponentially.

And as for my final tip - you have control of your learning experience, alongside your teacher. Make sure to express your interests, hobbies and preferred ways of interacting with the language and they will make sure that you will be taught English in contexts that are interesting to you, which will lead in turn to a fun learning journey.

Are you interested in trying a one-to-one language course that fits around you? Contact to arrange a free consultation.

Karen Shidlo


Karen Shidlo

Karen received her BFA from Pratt Institute in New York. She has experience in art, design and journalism. She is also passionate about writing and teaching, and balances her time...

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