Want to visit Germany?
Well, you’re learning the German language, so you’d better!
But if you’re not sure where to start, or are simply overwhelmed by so many wonderful choices, why not start off in the capitol city of Berlin?
After all, it has recently been named the most fun city in the world. Just remember to pack your grammar books—in this post I’ll be showing you how visiting Berlin can help boost your advanced German practice!
Even if you can’t pack your bags and leave for Germany tomorrow, I’ll give you all the resources you need to take an awesome virtual tour of this great German travel destination.
You’ll get in tons of advanced German practice from the comfort of home.
And hopefully you’ll get inspired enough to plan a trip of your own!
How Visiting Germany (Even Virtually) Will Help Your Language Skills
No one can deny that visiting Germany will help your German.
The language will be everywhere! Being surrounded by native speakers in their own country means you’ll be fully immersed in their culture. Just what you need to polish your pronunciation and attack those niggling grammar woes!
Admittedly—in Berlin at least—most Germans will revert to English as soon as they hear their language spoken with an accent, but persevere and they’ll soon realize that you mean business and want to practice your Deutsch with them.
By exploring all the resources on Berling history, culture and society provided by this post, you’ll start moving yourself out of advanced German and into a whole different league. Learning about culture is the only way to achieve true fluency. Consider the provided materials your guide to speaking like a true German native.
Why Choose Berlin?
When it comes to getting to grips with German, Berlin is an excellent city to visit. Since it’s the capitol, it’s also the political powerhouse of the country. Some might even say it’s the political powerhouse of Europe. And with great power comes great…vocabulary and grammar!
Berlin is steeped in history. And what’s history great for? Past tense practice! With all the Schlösser (castles) and Denkmale (monuments) comes myriad information written in the past tense. Sure, at first some of the lengthy sentences might appear daunting, but just keep reading while visiting the historic sites and exploring them online. Soon, these complex words and phrases will simply roll off your tongue.
Get Your Advanced German Practice on a Virtual Tour of Berlin
Visit the Reichstag
When in Berlin, a visit to the Reichstag should be on everyone’s to-do list. The Reichstag building is the home of the Bundestag (German parliament), so it’s the political HQ of Germany. This great video is a great source of interesting information about the Reischstag, helping you to prepare for your visit.
Why not brush up on your political knowledge before you hit the Reichstag? The Bundestag website has lots of useful information about the history and architecture of the building.
German broadsheet newspapers are great for keeping up-to-date on all the complex German politics that goes on here. Check them out online (Die Zeit and Die Welt are excellent examples). You might even find out there’s an important debate taking place during your visit.
Here are some useful words and phrases that will come in handy while learning more about the Reichstag:
Dem deutschen Volke (to the German people)
This is the inscription on the Reichstag’s facade. This is a great example of how the dative dictates adjective endings.
die Kuppel (the Reichstag’s glass domed roof)
der Bundespräsident (President of Germany—currently Joachim Gauck)
die Bundeskanzlerin (Chancellor of Germany—currently Angela Merkel, hence the use of the feminine form Bundeskanzler)
die Bundesversammlung (The Federal Convention)
Take a Tour…auf Deutsch!
It may sound pretty easy, just walking around without reading anything in particular. Actually, if you take a tour in German you’ll be working your killer listening skills. Y
You can take it easy and hop on and off one of the many tour buses, or you can head to a specific sight for one of their dedicated tours. Such examples include the excellent tours around Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp or Schloss Charlottenburg.
Sure, you could simply listen, but you should be flashing your German by asking questions. This handy vocab list should help:
die Gestapo (an acronym which stands for Geheime Staatspolizei)
The secret police of the Nazi regime. You’ll be hearing a lot about them if you take a tour of one of the many sites linked to the Third Reich.
Potsdam used to be the residence for the Prussian kings. This word will pop up a lot if you’re out and about in Potsdam and Berlin’s royal palaces).
das Denkmal (monument)
die Gedenkstätte (memorial/historical site)
das Regierungsviertel (the parliamentary quarter)
This includes the Reichstag and many other political buildings in the vicinity.
Go to a Premiere at Potsdamer Platz.
If you want to rub shoulders with Berlin’s glitterati and practice your listening while watching a fantastic movie, Potsdamer Platz is the place to be.
All the major movie premieres take place in the square’s Sony Center. For most of the big name blockbusters, you’ll have to make do with seeing the stars from the side of the red carpet, however if you’re a big film fan, try and visit when the Berlinale film festival is on, as all of the premieres will be open to the public! Stay on top of the plot with this vocab list:
die Sonderveranstaltung (special event)
The Berlinale often has special, one-off previews which are called Sonderveranstaltungen.
der Vekehrsknoten (Traffic junction, literally traffic-knot)
This words carries negative connotations. Potsdamer Platz is an extremely busy Vekehrsknoten!
am roten Teppich (on the red carpet)
die Kinoleinwand (cinema screen)
Visit the Hofbräuhaus.
For a taste of Munich, head straight to the Hofbräuhaus and savor its traditional Bavarian cuisine.
What’s your language getting out of this?
Well, you’ll be communicating with waiters, so that’s speaking and listening checked off. Reading German on the menus—check!
And it’s also a great insight into German culture and traditions. Who knew food and drink could be this educational?! The menu can be quite tricky to navigate, as it uses Bavarian Umgangsprache (slang). Fear not though, we’ve got your back…
Brez’n (shorthand for Brezeln, pretzels)
die Würstl (sausages)
das Brathendl (roast chicken)
der Obatzda (a Bavarian cheese spread)
das Schmankerl (delicacy)
Look Around the Deutches Historisches Museum.
Want to dive straight into the deep end? Well, head to the Deutsches Historisches Museum for a whole load of written historical information.
Their exhibitions cover a broad range of subjects on German history and culture, so expect complex syntax and difficult vocab. They often host special one-off exhibits, like this one to mark their 25th anniversary a couple of years ago. There’s always something interesting on, but double check with the website to see what will be in store for you during your visit.
Niederlage. Befreiung. Neuanfang. (Defeat. Liberation. New Beginning.)
One of their exhibitions that runs for most of this year. Read about it here.
das Zeugnis (testimony)
die Buchrestaurierung (book restoration)
The museum has a book restoration department, which you can read about here.
die Daueraustellung (permanent exhibition)
Deutschland unter alliierter Besatzung (Germany under allied occupation)
This is one of the epochs covered by the museum.
Hopefully this article has got you thinking about a trip to Germany!
But as you can see, thanks to the wealth of fantastic information and resources online, it’s possible to discover these places from the comfort of your own home.
Once you’ve had a taste of Berlin, you’ll definitely be tempted to discover what else this fantastic country has to offer!
Just remember if you do go…send us a postcard!
After studying German and Philosophy at The University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.
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