Looking for a deliciously unique way to boost your language skills?
Look no further than the land of schnitzel, strudel and schnapps—Austria!
Germany’s southern neighbor may not be the first place you think of when planning a German immersion trip, but it’s an awesome place to kick your language skills into high gear.
Not only will you get to explore the exciting culture (and did we mention the food?), you’ll also have tons of opportunities to practice your German in formal and informal settings, as we’ll show you below.
Read on, globetrotter!
Why Learn German in Austria
You’re probably asking yourself, “why go to all this bother? Why should I spend money on flight tickets and accommodation in a foreign country when I can work on my German skills here at home?”
Well, there are a few reasons why it’s worth hitting a German-speaking country for some study time.
First, you’ll be completely immersed in the country’s language and culture. When you’re learning the language at home, you’ll probably only be focused on the language for part of the day while you’re studying. As soon as you step away from your desk, you’ll snap out of your German frame of mind and back into your English one.
This won’t happen in Austria.
Everyone around you will be chatting in German so your language skills will constantly be used. You won’t ever get any rest! But that’s a good thing because it means you’ll be getting constant practice and your skills will improve without you even thinking about it!
You’ll also be putting your language skills to use while discovering a thing or two about Austrian culture. Learning about new countries and their cultures is great not only because it requires us to use German in new and different real-life scenarios, but also because it helps us to broaden our minds and see the world from a new perspective.
It’ll help you to better understand world politics and economics, and you can also discover the country’s fascinating history. Plus, you’ll learn some really fun stuff as well, from all the different traditional Austrian cakes (yum!) to Austrian movies and TV shows.
The Globetrotter’s Guide to Learning German in Austria
If you’re considering studying in Austria but aren’t sure if you’re ready, you can bring the immersion to you before you even leave home with FluentU.
FluentU is one of the best websites and apps for learning German the way native speakers really use it. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
By using real-life videos, the content is kept fresh and current. Topics cover a lot of ground as you can see here:
Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
To keep things fresh, FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and recommends further lessons and videos based on what you've already studied.
This way, you have a truly personalized learning experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or practice anytime, anywhere on the mobile app for iOS and Android.
With FluentU, you’ll be more prepared for interacting with fluent German speakers while you’re in Austria—or anywhere in the German-speaking world.
Not sure which city or region is best to brush up on your German? Wondering whether to go back to school or learn from a tutor? No worries; here are some options that you have.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it through Campus Austria, an association of 16 schools and learning institutions located throughout the country.
All of these schools and institutes have different entry requirements for their courses, and they also offer slightly different course types, including evening classes and business courses. The courses are aimed at students from beginner to advanced, so there’s something for everyone.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your exact level, as you’ll need to take a placement test to enroll. The Campus Austria schools are all of a very high standard—you might particularly want to check out Alpha Sprachinstitut Vienna. This language institute has tons of accreditations and boasts a nearly 100 percent success rate on German exams.
Campus Austria programs also offer cultural and adventure activities alongside language classes, so it’s not all work and no play!
If you’re looking for an authentic Austrian academic experience, then the University of Klagenfurt has the perfect thing for you—their German in Austria program. It’s specifically aimed at anyone who wants to learn a foreign language in a university setting.
There are a number of ways you can get involved with this program. You can choose one of the courses that span a whole semester. Alternatively, you may prefer to sign up for one of the shorter intensive courses. (You must be 17 or older for the intensive or semester courses.) There are also options to learn business German, take individual courses or study toward an Austrian Language Diploma.
Live in with a German Language Teacher
Don’t feel like going back to school? There’s a unique option that you can choose instead—how about living with a German language teacher for a few weeks?
If this sounds like your kind of thing, you can join one of the teachers from LanguageCourse.net. This platform has around 2,000 teachers in 30 countries who are keen to welcome a language student into their house. Your Austrian host will offer focused German lessons in the comfort of their home during your stay.
Most teachers in this program have a university degree and/or language teaching qualification. This option is aimed at both adult learners and students, and most courses last for around 12 weeks. As part of the standard courses, you can choose either 10 or 15 lessons per week or 25 per week with the intensive course.
There are also some specialist courses aimed at children (5- to 12-years-old), teenagers and senior learners—there really is a live-in course for everyone!
Lots of German learners will probably head straight to Vienna, as it’s Austria’s capital city. However, if you want to go somewhere a little less touristy, there are plenty of cities to think about including a cool one called Salzburg. Sitting right near the border with Germany, it’s known for its baroque architecture and is also the birthplace of the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Plus, you’ll find the inlingua Salzburg language school here.
inlingua Salzburg’s daytime and evening classes are aimed at student and adult learners. What’s unique about this school is that it has a large intake of learners who are planning on permanently moving to Austria or will spend a prolonged period of time in Austria.
For this reason, there are integration courses and parent-and-child courses so that families can learn German together. So, if you’re coming to Austria for professional or personal reasons, or you think you might just fall in love with the country and stay long-term, inlingua Salzburg is a great option.
Become an Au Pair
If you can’t afford the costs that come with studying at a foreign language school, you might prefer the idea of becoming an au pair.
An au pair is someone who spends time living in a foreign country with a host family. They’re normally hired to look after the family’s children as well as do some basic domestic jobs. In return, you’ll receive payment.
Even though you won’t have to do any formal German lessons as an au pair—although, you can always sign up for some in your spare time if you wish—you’ll find that this is a completely immersive experience as you’ll be expected to use your German with your host family.
You’ll get time off to explore the local area on your own. You should, ideally, use this to your advantage and join some local sports or hobby clubs. Speaking to people with the same interests will give you something to chat about (in German, of course)!
To find your perfect host family, take a look at Austrian au pair agencies, such as Aupair Austria.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why it’s worth going on an adventure to learn German! Not only will you have a great time while you’re away but you’ll also find that your German comes in leaps and bounds.
Time to look for flights to Austria!
Laura Harker is a freelance writer based in North Yorkshire, UK.
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