Sprachsalon Berlin. Photo by David Ghione
Still struggling with a list of German words shorter than the U55 line and a vocabulary limited to ‘Scheiza’, ‘oder?’ and a few other often-mispronounced idioms? Maybe it’s time you thought about going back to school. Luckily, Exberliner has done its homework and found seven new exciting options.
Bargain basics: Die Deutschule
Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean inferior. Offering four-week intensive German courses at the bargain price of €177, Die Deutschule, opened in April of last year, is the most democratically priced private language school in Berlin. But that doesn’t mean you and 50 other strapped-for-cash students are crammed into some derelict dive on the fringe of Neukölln-Rixdorf by a money-grabbing mendicant. Small class groups and fun, interesting lessons together with super friendly and highly experienced teachers make this school a great place in which new and short-term Berliners on a budget can find their feet. A highlight is the very cosy in-house café serving up cups of coffee and sweet snacks, and providing a snug space to practice your Deutsch with other students.
Neukölln cosy: Sprachsalon Berlin
Located in the bosom of expat-trendy Kreuzkölln in a newly renovated Altbau, this snug language school, just a stone’s throw away from Karl-Marx-Straße and the Landwehrkanal, truly has a lot of heart – and certainly has stolen ours. Opened in October 2011, this place is so brand new you can still smell paint and sticky varnish as you meander through its stunningly refurbished rooms decorated with adorable antique tables, typewriters and cosy couches. While the peppermint tea and salty snacks served up in cute crockery certainly help to create a homey, laidback atmosphere, lessons are not only well structured, but also well executed. A perfect alternative to crowded classrooms, language workshops hosted by enthusiastic “experts” cover topics from bike repair to book binding. Evening courses, running twice weekly (either 18-19:30 or 19:45-21:15, depending on level) for four weeks at €90, are amply suited to students and the working (wo)man. Sprinters might prefer the four-week intensive class for €270.
Deutsch for diplomats: Berlasco Berlin Language School
Berlasco, opened March 2011, isn’t really a school in the strictest sense of the word. Stationed in the former digs of Sat.1 just off Gendarmenmarkt in what is now an über-modern silver complex packed with more than a handful of smaller companies, the school is the product of founder Stefan Endres’ decade-long career as a teacher of German as a foreign language. Temporarily sharing a floor with coupon web-monster Groupon, Berlasco essentially consists of Endres’ bijou Büro-cum-classroom and the communal conference rooms now available to those renting office space in the complex. Berlasco doesn’t offer its students – usually 25-30-year-old embassy employees, diplomats, interns and other young professionals – the usual classroom set-up. Instead, this (mostly) one-man, undertaking provides customers with as much of an insight into Berlin’s role as an international Weltstadt as into the German language itself. Well-connected and much obliging Endres offers a business-class service that just might be out of the average Minijob-juggling expat’s price range (a four-week intensive German course coming in at a cool €420), but which serious students with a bit of liquidity will likely find well worth the Geld.
Academic achievement: BerlinerID
This ambitious language institute, which just opened its doors in January, really is the baby of the bunch. Based in one of the Technische Universität’s beautiful Ackerstraße buildings, BerlinerID – more popular with short-term Berliners than locals – is a great place to relive your uni days – or maybe to experience how you should have been spending them. Those willing to shell out the somewhat-posh price tag of €465 for a one-month intensive German course will spend their days chewing the fat about gender relations, political journalism and a range of philosophical issues. With plans to introduce evening courses and provide a fantastic spring-summer free time programme, this developing Sprachschule is definitely worth a look-in.
Too cool for school: Speakeasy Sprachzeug
We have one seriously silly schoolgirl crush on this effortlessly cool whatchamacallit-not-really-a-school. Doing nothing by the book, Speakeasy Sprachzeug, based in the middle of F’Hain minutes away from Frankfurter Tor, is where all the cool kids hang out. Owners Giancarlo Pugliese and Matthias Quaas offer students a comfortable atmosphere that’s a far cry from the conventional classroom setup. Saying “fuck you” to formalities, linguistic and otherwise, these guys do their very best in offering both new and old Berliners practical and affordable (€250 for a one-month intensive German class) crash courses in German needed to get by in the daily grind. With regular exhibitions bridging language and art, this homey hangout is as much a creative space as it is a classroom. And for those sticky summer days, Speakeasy offers “spin” lessons, where groups explore the city by bike.