Ernesto Forner, Head of Corporate Language Training at Cactus, tells us about his German course in Berlin in December
This was probably the best time to spend a week of German immersion in Berlin, enjoying the celebrated Christmas markets around the city and all the winter delicacies like Lebkuchen, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts or Stollen to name a few. The school is strategically situated in the district of Prenzlauer Berg, just walking distance from Mitte, the centre of Berlin, and very near different means of transportation. When walking around the streets near the school, one gets the feeling of a vibrant young city which is orderly and designed to be lived in and enjoyed. Bicycles, trams, pedestrians and cars all share a very well defined structure in a harmonious and respectful approach. It is far from the madness, chaos and overcrowding that can be experienced in the bigger European cities of Moscow, London, Paris or Madrid. Berlin is a city made for its citizens: it is ample, green, quiet and harmonious.
(Image: Ernesto’s favourite shop in Berlin – Ritter Sport chocolate!)
When you walk into the school, you also get a feeling of efficiency and harmony. The staff are very friendly, helpful and pro-active and I always felt I knew what I needed to do and be. The building is modern and quite original, with an inner courtyard (a common and famous type of construction in Berlin) consisting of gardens and residential buildings for students. The rooms are also modern, big and clean, creating the perfect environment for learning the language.
I took a 20 hour general language course. I had 2 hours of learning with a teacher, a 30 minute break and another 2 hours or learning with a different teacher. This exposed us to two different teaching styles, accents and approaches to language learning. I was placed in a level a bit higher than what my level really is, and even though this took me out of my comfort zone, I must say I learnt probably more than if I had been placed at my right level. Once you reach Intermediate level, it is easy to follow the language being taught regardless of whether you are placed higher than where you really belong. It’s a way to push yourself harder and it is important not to lose self-confidence when realising everyone else in the classroom has a better level than you.
After 5 full days of lessons, I was impressed at how much I had learnt and I would have loved to have been able to continue learning such an amazing language in such a great school with such fantastic teachers. Unfortunately, it was time to leave, but I will most definitely be going back to the amazing city Berlin is, and make sure I continue with my learning experience at that same school.