General Tips for Language Learners

The closer the target language is to your native language, the easier it will be to learn. Don’t get discouraged. It takes years to get really good at a language. You’re not bad at languages. You just need to step out of your comfort zone and go all in 🙂

Dear readers,

Thanks for visiting my blog today! How goes it? 😉

Before we get started, I want to say one thing: you learn a language by doing. It requires motivation, some sort of system, and regular exposure/practice. The closer the target language is to your native language, the easier it will be to learn. Don’t get discouraged. It takes years to get really good at a language. You’re not bad at languages. You just need to step out of your comfort zone and go all in.

 

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~studying German October 2017~

 

General Tips

  • Keep a grammar cheat-sheet at your desk or on the bathroom mirror.

 

  • Write hard-to-remember words on the back of your hand. One per day. 🙂

 

  • Create mental images of the words you are trying to learn in your target language. Search Google images. Don’t just rely on the translation in your native language.

 

  • Play video games in your target language.

 

  • Every once in a while, go back to old materials. A refresher is never bad and you can look back on the progress you’ve made.

 

  • Learn with interesting materials according to your personal interests instead of only working with a text book that may not interest you very much. Try out YouTube videos, online materials, fun stories, and music.

 

  • Have a notebook just for that language. Stay organized.

 

  • Stay relaxed when speaking the foreign language. In the beginning, find a language partner who is aware of your level and goals in the language.

 

  • Look for cognates and FALSE FRIENDS! The cognates will be easier to memorize but will still enlarge your vocabulary. Learning the false friends will not only save you from mistakes, but will also teach you more about the history and linguistics of both languages.

 

  • Spend timing learning how to conjugate verbs and build correct sentences according to the tense system of that language.

 

  • Be intentional with your vocabulary learning. What words do you need? What words are you expected to know? Develop an interest for digging deeper into the word bank of the language.  😀

 

  • When writing a school paper or just practicing the language, write it in your native language first and then translate into target language afterwards. Writing is a great way to make progress with your language level; I suggest also writing in your target language to help get the language integrated into your thoughts until you produce sentences without thinking about it.

 

  • Look for audio materials with transcriptions or subtitles. Listen to the materials several times and take notes.

 

  • Spend enough time with materials for learners and with the authentic language. What basic grammar do I need to know to make use of the language? How do native speakers speak the language? Both are important to “take in” and be able to use the language.

 

  • Build “language islands” and practice speaking. Language islands are stories, experiences, answers to common questions, etc. that may come up during a conversation. Learn correct phrases, structures and practice vocabulary, so that you speak more fluently the next time you have a conversation.

 

  • When listening to a conversation or a talk in your native language, try translating in your head into your target language. You can also translate your target language into your native–this should help to build vocabulary.

 

  • Don’t expect that you are going to command the language as easily as your native language and realize it is a process not an instant achievement 😉

 

That’s it for the general tips! Did you learn something new from this post? I’d love to hear from you.

~ Stephanie F.

Let’s Talk Money ~Studying Abroad in Germany~

This post is going to be short and sweet. Let’s talk finances. How are the prices in Germany? What are my expenses? Getting a residence permit/student visa.. how much per month do you need?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Hello everyone!

This post is going to be short and sweet. Let’s talk finances. How are the prices in Germany? What are my expenses? Getting a residence permit/student visa.. how much per month do you need?

  •  A regular cup of coffee costs 2- 2.50 Euros
  • A loaf of bread (375 grams) costs 1.09 Euros
  • 0,5 liter of beer costs about 4.00 Euros
  • A sandwich at a café costs 1.80-3.00 Euros
  • A Döner costs between 3.50- 4.50 Euros
  • A train ticket (Erlangen to Nuremberg- a distance of about 15 miles with car ) costs 4.80 Euros
  • A bus ticket (in Erlangen) costs 2.20 Euros
  • My monthly prepaid phone plan costs 9.99 Euros for 200 minutes/messages and 1.5 GB of data. I get additional data (300 MB) for 2.99 Euros more. Vodafone is actually not the cheapest provider, but I just wanted to quickly find a company when I arrived and create a German number so that I would not have to continue paying international fees with my American provider. I think I paid an extra 10 Euro in the beginning for the sim card, but some of what I paid got transferred to my balance. Vodafone also has an application for smart phones, which makes it easy to manage your plan and add money when needed.
  • My internet costs 16 Euro a month (offered by my dorm- no limit on the number of devices or data)
  • Germany requires that all residents pay a fee to ZDF/ARD (the Rundfunkbeitrag). Luckily, students can share the costs with their floormates since they aren’t living in proper apartments: Rundfunkbeitrag & Student fee. I think it turned out that we only paid about 15 Euro per semester.
  • I personally don’t have a television. I also don’t pay gym fees or attend any private classes at evening schools. Nor do I have a car since I either walk or use public transportation.
  • Some other monthly costs you’ll see later =)
  • Check out this video to see: What can you buy in Germany with 5€?

 

{Shopping} Without closely examining all prices in Germany and comparing them to the prices in USA, I can still say that food (especially at the grocery store) is relatively cheap. But, clothes tend to be a bit more expensive here. Also, I think there is generally a wider selection at American malls than at German malls.

Food is imported from countries in the European Union and the quality is quite good. So you can eat healthier here and not spend too much if you cook at home, but you may notice that shopping for clothes is a bit better in USA.

Even though clothes aren’t that cheap, I think that basic cosmetics are also pretty cheap here in Germany.

{Taxes & Insurance} Before we move on to what I spend on a regular basis and how much is required for a student visa, it’s worth mentioning that taxes here are much higher. They also have a sales tax (MwST). Workers also pay more taxes. And Germans love insurances. So, a good sum of money is also required for insurance. I have been happy with my health insurance here.

Paying out of pocket when having insurance is an American concept–not a German one. If there would be another difference.. it would be that “free” may exist in USA, but in Germany you get what you pay for. Don’t expect free water or to use the restroom in public places without paying.

 

Okay.. now my expenses!

{Weekly Spending} On average, I spend about 75 Euros per week. This can be more or less depending on how many times I went out to eat, what I got at the grocery store and if I bought gifts for myself.

{Monthly} So, in a month, I spend about 300-400 Euros on food and other shopping.

{Rent, Insurance, School Fees} Let’s add in other costs like my rent, health insurance and school fees: the school fees are only twice a year (once every semester) and the fees also cover our student ticket so that we can travel for free in the evening and on weekends. It is 114 Euros each time.

My health insurance is 90 Euros a month and my rent is 250 Euros (including utilities.) Yes, health insurance is required for international students who aren’t from the European Union.

{Food Costs} I don’t live all that frugally but I also don’t eat out at a nice restaurant every week or buy a lot of material goods.

{Travel} Not included are my travel costs (to, let’s say, Greece for a weekend) because they are one-time costs rather than a sum of usual monthly spending. My total monthly expenses are about the same as what is required for a  residence permit.

{Money Needed- Student Visa} The required sum is 8,700 Euros for one year–725 Euros a month. And here’s a website with more information on the subject:  Student Visa and Residence Permit. 

Spending and budgeting are subjective, but I hope this gave you some idea of what to expect!

Keep in mind that, depending on your program, you may or may not have similar requirements/costs. There are shorter study abroad programs that organize everything for you as well as summer language schools that can offer accommodation. They are not the same as applying to be a full-time student (even if temporarily- for a semester or a year.)

 

Good luck with your studies,

~Stephanie F.