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