German course in Vienna: settling into a new life abroad

Moving to Vienna was a sudden decision, prompted by my husband’s job offer there. German was always an option at school which I chose not to take, believing that Spanish and French would be more useful to me in the long run – a choice which has paid out as I found myself living first in Spain, then France, and more recently in Mexico, due in these instances to my own work prospects.

Now, though, I don’t have a choice. We arrived here in Vienna about 1 month ago, and although the majority of Austrians speak good enough English to make me wince with embarrassment at my own linguistic deficiencies, I still can’t imagine living in a country where I can’t manage the basics, whether it’s asking for bread in the Bäckerei, or getting a different size pair of shoes.

So here I am back in language classes, studying German at the partner school that Cactus works with in Vienna. We have a nice small class of 10 students, and lessons are from 9.00 to 12.15 every day (except national holidays, of which there are unfortunately 2 during my 2-week course).

Each day the classes are divided into 2 parts – for me the first part is grammar for 1 ½ hours with Sabrina, and then conversation with Verena, also 1 ½ hours. It’s intensive, but good, as I feel myself improve daily and build confidence with basic sentences and ideas. German isn’t easy, but it’s not the nightmare I’d imagined either, as a lot of vocabulary is similar to English, so with a good amount of guesswork I can get by. I look forward to classes every day, as the other students are nice, and I feel like I’m in the middle of the group – not held back, but not holding others back either.

And we have a nice social scene too – out to the local wine bar one night, and a tour round Stephansdom (the main cathedral) on another day. There are also waltz classes and a day trip out of the city to look forward to – we’re kept busy whether it’s for study or pleasure.

Students are here for a variety of reasons, as we find out in the first class. A Japanese student has just got married to her Austrian boyfriend, and they plan to live here, so she needs to be able to survive, just as I do. We also have an Italian in the group who is a ski instructor, and she wants to be able to take groups of Germans and Austrians skiing in the Italian Alps. And others are taking it purely for the pleasure of learning a new language, and also believing that it will help them in the workplace in the future. Whatever the reason, we’re a motivated bunch, and we make good progress from the basics through to the grammatically challenging parts.

My course ends too soon for my liking, and way too soon for my level of German to be good enough yet. So I think I’ll definitely be back as a student again for another few weeks. I’ll just take a little time out first, for a chance to practise on the unsuspecting Austrian public.

Cactus runs a variety of German courses in Vienna for all levels and ages. In addition to group and private German courses, we offer music courses, teacher refresher courses, academic year courses, and summer activity courses for under 18s.

If you want to learn German before you go, why not consider an evening language course at home? Available in the UK and the US & Canada, these short-term courses are the ideal way to brush up your language skills before an overseas trip.

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