Today marked the 2-week point for my studies at Horizonte (the German language school), and the experience has been great! My class has 3 other students in it: 1 from Switzerland, 1 from Czech Republic, and 1 from Tunisia. The class meets Monday through Friday from 9.00 am to12.30 pm (with a short break from 10.30 to 11.00). I also have private instruction Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 1.30 pm to 2.45 pm. The class is intense, but I feel that the nature of the class creates an environment where students actually learn the language.
Here are 3 tips for anyone interested in learning a language abroad. First, don't be afraid to ask questions. This is the best way to learn, particularly if the question is both asked and answered in the target language. Second, try to limit the amount of translating you do. When you learn a new word, it is better to learn the word without the English equivalent. Visual dictionaries, while somewhat lower level, can limit the amount of translating you do. Third, use the language. With classmates and friends. At the bakery. In the store. On the bus. Everywhere. Applying the concepts learned in class not only ensures that you understand, but it also ensures maximum retention. At first, I was extremely concerned with accuracy; however, now I am more concerned with simply utilizing the language.
On Sunday, I will be taking a day excursion to Dachau. More information to come.