This week Claire Twyman, Staff Journalist at StudyTravel Magazine, reflects on her second study abroad experience at did deutsch-institut in Germany.

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Having previously studied at the centre in Munich in 2012, last December I took German classes at did deutsch-institut Berlin. I think that everyone in our industry should gain study abroad experience for at least a short amount of time if they haven’t already, as it, as you know, allows you to learn about other cultures and other ways of thinking. And in turn, you learn the value of an overseas student experience first-hand, which reinforces the importance of the work we do as agents or international education marketers.

For me, it was interesting see how the student demographic at German language schools has changed within the space of two years. A large proportion of students in my class this time round were learning the language in order to qualify for a university course in Germany, whereas in 2012 the reasons were more mixed and included to increase employment prospects at home and purely for pleasure.

Granted the students in my class represented a tiny proportion of the collective student body at German language schools, but it is interesting to note that the findings were similar in an upcoming Market Analysis feature on the country’s language teaching sector. As we will report in the March issue (p66), more than half of students were studying German for the purposes of further studies in the country. This coincides with a government strategy in 2013 to increase international student numbers in higher education to 350,000 by 2020, and it was nice to see that language schools are benefitting from this.

During my time in Berlin I also visited a few other German language schools, who all reported similar student trends in terms of reasons for learning the language in Germany. Many reported that the main advantage of having multiple agent partnerships is that they result in a diverse student body, with many nationalities represented on campus. And many of the students at did deutsch-institut also enrolled through an agent – even one that followed a friend’s recommendation. He said that he needed help choosing where to stay and with applying for a visa, and that the agent was very helpful with this.

This is the first time that I have studied at two schools belonging to the same chain, and I am pleased to report that, from my experience, it is a slick operation that successfully manages the student experience from enrolment to evaluation. At all did schools teachers and students are only permitted to speak in German, which although I found tricky at first allowed me to develop my language skills at a faster pace. Without instructions in their native language to rely on, students are forced to use their intuitive skills and now I am able to have a conversation (albeit basic) in German. I somehow even managed to convince a Berliner that I was a native speaker! 

For those of you travelling to Berlin for either business or pleasure, I can recommend staying in Freidrichshain, with a relaxing atmosphere yet lots of bars and restaurants. Eat currywurst; go on a street art walking tour to learn more about the cultural development of East Berlin after the historic demolishment of the Berlin Wall; and visit the jazz club B-Flat for free on Wednesdays which is located on Rosenthaler Strasse.

I look forward to studying in Germany again and hope that the country’s language teaching sector will continue going from strength-to-strength.

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