January 2009 issue

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German plus culture

German plus culture courses offer students the means to learn the language while also gaining an understanding of Germany’s impressive cultural background. Whatever a student’s interest, they will surely be able to find a course to suit their needs.

Germany has been called das Land der Dichter und Denker [the land of poets and thinkers] and with so many literary figures, such as Kafka, Goethe and Schiller, calling the country home, language students looking for a taste of German culture do not have to look far. Music, architecture, art, literature, cooking and philosphy are all cultural activities that can be found in abundance in Germany and language schools have been quick to combine such add-ons into their language courses.

Robert Sobotta from the aptly named Goethe Institute in Dresden says that language and culture programmes have been the focus of the school since it opened in 1996. Here, students can undertake an intensive language and culture programme for either four or two weeks, combining intensive language learning with a full cultural programme that includes visits to theatres, historic sites and a behind-the-scenes look at local business and political institutions. “We [recently] introduced courses focusing on the silver generation,” says Sobotta. “That is, people older than 50 years.” The Deutsch 50 plus course was developed for older students “to exchange ideas on language, history and culture with like-minded people”, according to the course brochure.

Some schools are developing such courses as an addition to their mainstream offerings. Ute Klünder, Director of Carl Duisberg Centren in Hannover, says that they are offering new German language and culture courses as a combination with the Intensive Course Plus from 2009. “Additional programmes offer the possibilities of learning more about German cultural features,” she says. “More intense than the regular leisure time programme, these additional programmes give an insight into, for example, German history in Berlin or wine growing along the Rhine in Cologne or the myths of King Ludwig II in Munich.”

The variety of cultural activities available in Germany mean that the range of language plus culture programmes on offer is large. Susanne Wolny from Fremdsprachenforum in Cologne, which has offered German plus culture programmes since last summer, says that such courses have been really popular with certain types of students. “These courses are not so popular with the students who want to study at the German university but they are really popular with the students during summer courses,” she says. The school has also introduced a German Christmas course during December, which includes a visit to one of the four Christmas markets that are held in Cologne each year.

She adds, “Every day we will introduce and explain a new typical German Christmas tradition: Nikolaus [St Nicholas], Weihnachtsmann [Father Christmas], Adventscalendar. If we explain typical German Christmas food – especially the cookies – we will explain why Germans prepare them, where they come from and in the afternoon we will bake them because we have a kitchen in our school. We also plan to make an excursion to the famous Lebkuchen [type of traditional German Christmas biscuit] manufacturer in Aachen and we will follow the Krippenweg [a trail of nativity scenes] here in Cologne.”

However, language plus culture courses can offer some challenges to language schools as Günter Ost from Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg in Horb am Neckar points out, adding that the school does not provide such courses to students. “It’s hard to get enough students for them because you have to offer time-limited and time-defined courses,” he says. “At the end you get a small group of very different language levels which causes unsatisfied learners.”

Language plus culture courses do seem to be popular with one particular sector of the student market, however, that of older age leisure learners looking for a holiday with a difference. Brigitta Alkofer from Humboldt-Institut in Argenbühl says that they offer a full cultural activity programme as part of their activity programme for students on their general language courses, but have recently developed a new course for older learners. “In 2009, we will for the first time offer a German language course 50+ in Ellwangen, which will be a combined language and culture course focusing on visits to cultural monuments and points of interest in the surroundings – churches, monasteries, museums but also concerts etc,” she says. The cultural events will not take place in the mornings – lesson time – but will be an integral part of the course.”

Overall, language plus culture courses can be a good way for language schools to diversify their courses and attract a wider variety of students. Wolny says that the courses attract students from far and wide. “The nationalities that are attracted by this offer are Japanese, Korean and students from Eastern European countries,” she says.
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The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Britannia Student

Bridge Agency
Intellect Agency  

English Australia  
English UK  
MEI-Relsa Ireland  
Perth Education

Internet Advantage
Your World on

Malta Tourism

Alphe Conferences 
English Australia  
English UK  
MEI-Relsa Ireland 

Ability Education  
English Australia  
Geos International
      (Australia, Canada,
      Costa Rica,
      England, France,
      Ireland, Japan,
      Korea, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Singapore, South
      Africa, Spain,
      Thailand, USA)
Perth Education

Ceran Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Spain, UK)
Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
Saint Charles
      Garnier College  
Stewart College
      of Languages  

Ardmore Language
      Schools (UK, USA)
Bell International 
      (Malta, UK) 
Camp Beaumont  
Hampstead School
      of English  
IP International
      Projects GmbH  
      (England, France,
      Germany, Spain)
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)
Millfield School  
      (Ireland, Italy,
      UK, USA)  
Prime Education  
Queen Ethelburga's
RLI Language
St Giles Colleges 
       (Canada, UK, USA) 
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Twin Group 
      (Ireland, UK)  
University of Essex
       - International
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Langues Sans

Carl Duisberg
      (England, Germany) 
F+U Academy  
      (Germany, Spain)
inlingua Berlin  
      House Berlin -

Kai Japanese
      Language School  
      Language School  

      Language School  
Iels - Institute of
      English Language
inlingua Malta  

Centro Marista de
      Idiomas - Cemadi  

Fern English  
Leisure Learn
Seafield School
      of English  
Unique New
      Zealand Education

North West
      Academy of

Active English  
Clare Language
ISI - International
      Study Institute
Language College
MEI-Relsa Ireland  

EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps.  
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)
Glasgow School
      of English  
University of

Cape Studies  

Castila - Centro de
International House
      Sevilla - Clic  
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Switzerland, USA)

Prem Tinsulanonda
      Center for

Boston Academy
      of English  
EF International
      Language Schools  
ELS Language
Global Language
University of
University of
      Nevada Reno  
University of
      South Carolina  
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)