The best way to learn a language is to speak it. In an article for Forbes magazine Katharine B. Nielson, the chief educational officer for an American language company, noted that when employees from U.S Border Agency stopped learning Spanish in a formal manner but switched to a more conversational method their understanding and fluency dramatically improved.
For any learner of a foreign language building connections and friendships with native speakers of that language is a most valuable way, not only to get more practice, but also bring the language to life and to get a deeper understanding of the culture.
According to the 2011 census Manchester is home to more than 2000 native speakers of German (Germans, Austrians and Swiss) and that number has most likely increased over the last few years.
So how do you get to know some of these people and start a conversation?
Luckily there are a number of open and friendly communities that celebrate the German language and culture. Each one will offer you a warm welcome - all you need to do is pluck up the courage to get in touch and I recommend that you do:
The Stammtisch provides a casual gathering for natives and learners of German, to socialise and enjoy a meal or a drink. Meetings take place weekly with alternating dates on Thursday and Wednesday evenings. Additionally the hosts of the Stammtisch organise occasional outings, nature hikes or celebrations. They welcome beginners to fluent speakers with the only prerequisite being that you have a rudimentary understanding of the language.
German Society of the University of Manchester
For any university students and members of the public who are lovers of the German language and culture, you might be interested in joining the German Society. Here language skills are not required for most of their events, which include trips to Germany, evenings out and a bake-off. Every year the society rehearses and performs a theatre play in German language. It is a fun way to get a taste of German culture.
Deutsche Kirche Manchester
This is for anyone from beginner to the more advanced or native speaker. Twice a month Mass is read in German. Additionally a number of groups meet at their premises in Stretford, including a singing group, an art and craft group (for adults), a women's group, and a baby and toddler playgroup. Regular events are advertised in the church newsletter.
Last but absolutely not least, we are looking forward to welcoming you to our own weekly conversation session. At the Freitagsklub we discuss a large variety of topics each week. You won't even realise that you are practising because we keep the sessions lively and entertaining. There are film nights where you will relax and learn the language almost by osmosis as you get engrossed in some great German movies. We play games which are guaranteed to raise a laugh and really put you at your ease. By coming along you will form lovely friendships many of which will last for years to come. Have a look at this term's schedule and pop along – we would love to meet you!