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The Goethe Institute

A Summer Camp for Adults in a German Town

I spent September living in a medieval German village at the Goethe Institute in Rothenburg ob der Taube working on my German and making friends from all over the world. At the same time I became a “local” in this heavily touristed town.

Rothenberg is an intact medieval village in northern Bavaria, about two hours from Munich, complete with cobblestone streets and a wall encircling the town. It’s small enough that a visitor can get to know it in a short time and yet so full of charm and interest that you never get bored.

Goethe Institute exams and certificates are internationally recognized as a standard for German proficiency. There are courses for all levels of German ability, from complete beginner to nearly fluent. Students are assigned to classes after an interview and a written test. Lessons are in German from the very first hour. People with special interests can take courses designed just for them. The Institute also offers special summer courses in boarding schools for young people aged nine to 17.

We spent most of our time applying what we learned instead of practicing grammar. To my amazement, the locals never tired of speaking with us. Goethe Institute students are quite popular with the townspeople since the students, unlike the tourists, actually stay in town at night.

There are Institute locations in cities and towns of all sizes, each with advantages. The Institute recommends that beginners consider courses in small towns because they provide an intimate experience of German life and close contact with the community.

Most Institutes have arrangements with local people who rent out rooms in their homes; some hosts adopt their boarders as members of the family. The price of accommodations varies according to location, but even with a single room the total cost of tuition and room should not be over US$1,200 for a month.

My Institute class was like a summer camp for grownups—full of activity, camaraderie, and intense relationships. Some students return to the same Institute every year; the Oberstufe (advanced class) is designed so that students can take it many times and not repeat material. If you are serious about German, or just serious about having a good time and at the same time want to accomplish something, consider the Institute.

For more information and the fastest registration, go to the Goethe Institute’s web site www.goethe.de/enindex.htm.