MUNICH: Goethe Institut

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3 minutes

Thirty years after leaving Germany as a reporter, I came back to study German at the pre-eminent German language school, Goethe Institut.

Goethe’s language training was as good as that of any school I’ve tried, including GLS (Berlin) and Berlitz. 

The language classrooms then were in the center of the city. Now they’re across the river in the eastern Haidhausen district.

The new facility features 21 classrooms with modern equipment and furnishings, a media resource center, WLAN, small cafeteria and common rooms. In that, it sounds just like the old school.

A typical classroom at the “old” Goethe Institut on Sonnenstrasse. I can attest from personal experience that language schools look alike inside, whether in Germany or the U.S.

This photo is from the second half of a course, in which half the students were on scholarships from their businesses. While I was there, Goethe classes involved six to 12 students.

Every language school has a media lab, where students can find books, magazines, computers, CDs, tapes, etc. The aids help them master grammar, vocabulary, comprehension and pronunciation or prep for exams that lead to certificates recognized by schools and businesses worldwide.

This lab was on the top floor of the Goethe facility on Sonnenstrasse.

In German style, Goethe’s building was part of a block that included a Hof (open courtyard) within.

A 30-minute break was plenty of time to grab a snack at the second floor cafeteria and wander out to a colorful balcony during Indian summer.

The young woman, Swiss from a town near the Italian border, was one of my classmates — and a charmer. Any time she took to the balcony, young men were sure to follow.

Most of my lunches were taken standup-style around the corner from the school.

Once in a while, I’d start home and stop for lunch in the underground passage of the transit center beneath the Stachus square.

Woerner’s, around back of the school, was a more conventional lunch spot and more suited to meeting people. Warm, blue-sky days made everyone want to eat outdoors.

The Hotel Mirabell was close enough to school that I walked to class each morning. Across one street was a grocery, where I could buy meat, fruit and vegetables that I’d load up in my room’s little refrigerator. If I could snack, I could study.

The Mirabell’s morning buffet of eggs, meats, cheese, fresh bread, jams, and much more was spectacular and got every day off to a great start.

That little cafe at the corner of the building featured chairs and small tables on the sidewalk, and I liked to sit there and watch Munich life go by. Sometimes I’d get to talk, but most of the people at the other tables were from North Africa and spoke less German than I.

Goethe Institute has 13 schools in Germany and one in Vienna. Language is a key part of what Goethe does. It’s a not-for-profit German association operating worldwide at 159 locations, encouraging international cultural relations. About 250,000 people take part in these German courses each year.

Next: Fare vs. flair


4 responses to “MUNICH: Goethe Institut”

  1. Steve Schnipper Avatar
    Steve Schnipper

    How are the breakfast tacos?

    1. Clint Swift Avatar

      Ha! Never found a breakfast taco in the cradle of Schnitzel. Breakfast actually was determined by the distance to the nearest bakery. 😉

  2. Richard Avatar

    It’s nice that you could have such a good experience. I noticed that all the students in the photos are Caucasian, but I would have expected some Africans, maybe.

  3. Clint Swift Avatar

    Good point, Richard. Goethe has locations all over the world, including I would imagine in former colonial parts of Africa. But I don’t seen any black faces. I don’t remember any in class, either. 

    Part of the reason might be cost. A student paying personally probably wouldn’t choose to study in Munich, as it might be the most expensive European location where Goethe has a school. 

    Last time I studied in Munich, most of the students said they’d been sent by their companies. That’s interesting, as increasingly, English is emerging as the business language. I read that at Siemens, Germany’s biggest electric-parts company, English prevails during meetings, even in Germany. Nonetheless, German obviously is helpful for a life outside the office.

    I glanced at the photos in my post from Berlin about GLS, the school I attended there. You can see a Middle Eastern face and an Asian one. I recall students from England, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Syria, Mexico, Italy and the U.S. Munich also had a Chinese fellow, who said he was in his early 80s. At GLS and Goethe, the number of women in class grew steadily during the years I attended. Last time, they outnumbered the men.

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