For four weeks in November/December 2012 I attended a German language course at the did deutsch-institut in Berlin (pronounced d-i-d). While I did have a scholarship toward my German language studies, this is my honest review of the 4-week, standard course I took at the did deutsch-institut:
Location of the school in Berlin
The did deutsch-institut is in a fairly convenient location. Between Nordbahnhof and just a few blocks from Friedrichstrasse, it’s quite easy to get to from just about anywhere. The school also has a partnership/deal with Humboldt University, so it’s possible to use the student canteen/dining hall with your student ID. They serve good, cheap lunches—a full, warm meal for under 5€.
The school itself is on two floors in a modern building. Classrooms were just big enough for the number of students in the class (max 15).
Professors and method of teaching
My introductory German course had a two different professors teaching us. They basically alternated days. The teaching styles of each were slightly different. One of our professors went a bit faster than the other and assumed we knew a bit more than we did, but he always made class interesting. The other professor taught a bit more slowly to make sure everyone was at the same level before moving on. Together, both styles worked well for me because class was sometimes challenging and stressful, but other times easy-to-follow.
Every class was heavily focused on us, the students, speaking. Though it may have been embarrassing on the first day to speak up and try to use our limited (or, in my case, non-existent) German, after the first few hours we all started to feel more comfortable. I never felt bad about making a mistake because we all did it and we all helped to correct each other. It was a great environment for a beginner.
Pace of the course
You can read all my daily posts from the 4-week course in my Berlin language school series. The course initially started out with a fast pace. We were learning new words and ways to use them every hour it seemed. Grammar followed after, but by the end of the second week everything started to make much more sense. The third week was a bit slower as we got into more technical parts of the grammar and the fourth week was pretty interesting. By this time many of us were comfortable with the basics of German sentences and verbs, so we could form our own basic stories. The fourth week also brought more challenging examples of German verbs and how to use them.
The did deutsch-institut offers a few different levels of courses. I was enrolled in a standard course but they also offer premium and intensive courses.
The class was never more than 15 students. The first two weeks were the most crowded with a full classroom, however, by the third week, even though 4 or 5 students finished their 2-week studies, new students enrolled. The average class size throughout the duration of my 4-week course was usually 10-12 people. Sometimes people wouldn’t show up to class, but this was relatively rare.
The other students in the course came from just about everywhere. I was the only native English-speaker during the entirety of the four weeks. Other students enrolled in my same course came from Egypt, Croatia, South Korea, Brazil, Spain, China, Vietnam, Sweden, Venezuela and Italy. We were quite the mix of people!
We used the Tangram aktuell course book published by Hueber. The cost of the books are not included in the tuition price: a 4-lesson book cost 15.95€ when purchased from the school’s collection. Not having much experience with other courses or language books, the Tangram book was decent. Entirely in German, we often skipped around within a lesson. We rarely had homework during our 4-weeks but there were plenty of exercises in the book that I tried to do just to practice on my own.
The book also comes with a CD for the listening exercises. Sometimes the book seemed a bit out-dated and old (there were silly rap songs spread throughout), but I still feel like it helped me to learn a few things. The grammar section at the back of the book was often more helpful than within the lessons, though admittedly, one student in the course had a different course book which we would occasionally copy verb charts/conjugations out of because it was simpler to use.
On the web:
If you’re interested in the the standard course I took at the did deutsch-institut, more information is available here. You can book the course anywhere from 1-48 weeks, with 20 lessons per week. A typical level of German language learning is 6 weeks.