One big challenge of an intercultural marriage is language and communication. In most interracial, interethnic and intercultural marriages, at least one partner needs to learn the language of his/her foreign spouse to be able to communicate with the in-laws and extended families as well as friends. But for some foreign spouses, learning the new language is essential in order to integrate in the community and earn a job.
The German government, being a solid Deutsch speaking country, must have considered this important factor (or maybe to simply tighten the flow of immigration of foreign spouses) that in the last few years, they included the German language test as requirement for the Family Reunion visa for Germany. Unless the foreign spouse earns at least 60% rating for this test, his/her visa application will not be processed or approved.
This is the latest information from Goethe Institut Thailand website:
Following a recent change in the law, foreign spouses of German citizens and of foreign nationals living in Germany are now only able to obtain a residence permit if they can hold at least simple conversations in German. Foreign nationals wishing to move to Germany to live with their spouse must therefore be able to demonstrate basic skills in the German language before they arrive. This can also be verified with the certification “Goethe-Zertifikat A1: Start Deutsch 1″.
In my post The biggest challenge of earning a Family Reunion Visa for Germany, I mentioned about how I could not afford to learn German language by attending German courses because of conflict of schedule and time. The best option for me in prepping for the test was to self-learn. I took the test on Monday, 25th April, waited for three days to get the result, and found out that I passed, with a surprising percentage a lot higher than I hoped for.
I did promise that the moment I pass the test I’ll write a post about how I did it, so here it comes!
11 Tips to prepare for Deutsch 1 – Level A1 test:
1. Buy the review book Fit fürs Goethe-Zertifikat A1, it comes with an Audio CD for the listening exercises.
If you are working full-time during the day, you will need about one month to learn, making time after work. You need to know all the vocabularies given in the book and remember them. You must revise everything, the reading, listening, writing and speaking modules that are all provided in this review book.
Based from my experience, the degree of difficulty of this review book is a lot higher than the difficulty of the actual test. As long as you complete the book and really understood it, your comprehension ability is more than enough for you to conquer the test.
2. Buy a German dictionary book
My then boyfriend, now husband, bought me a handy German phrase book & CD (English to German) complete with lots of vocabularies and dictionary (English-German and German-English). I recommend this book because it’s very easy to use and almost all the basic German terms that you’d need to learn are there. The CD is even helpful because the recording says the phrases in English first, then in German, and gives you time to repeat each phrase, twice.
3. Use google translate to aid you in learning by yourself.
Learning by yourself and without a teacher to guide you or answer your questions can be challenging. However, I found that google translate is a good help. I open three windows of google translator in my laptop screen at a time, two windows for German to English translations and one for English to German. This made my translations quick. I type the short German vocabs in the first window, the long German phrases or sentences on the second window, and the English vocabularies that I wish to translate to German on the third window.
I observed that some translations provided by google are grammatically wrong, however, they will still make you understand what the concept or the message of your unknown German words are. Another good thing about google translation is that it allows you to listen on how the words are pronounced.
4. Focus on the vocabularies and less on the articles.
For beginners, memorizing all the articles for each vocabulary can drive you nuts. Each article is unique for every noun, such as der Apfel, die Traube, and das Brot. I tried to memorize as much articles as I could only to find in the test that they were not very necessary. The only time article became an issue to me was during the speaking test. Therefore it’s more important that you memorize the vocabulary and worry not with the articles. As long as you know what Apfel, Traube and Brot are, for example, you’re fine. Also, you must remember to write the first letter of nouns in capital letters.
5. Practice writing as much as you can.
This is where I fell short. I spent more time memorizing the vocabularies, improving my reading comprehension and listening ability, but I did not have enough time to learn to write short paragraphs. In the test, you will be asked to write a short letter or email to a friend given the situations. I had to write an email of at least 30 words. I fully understood what the situation was and knew what I had to do, but my grammar was bad. That was because I did not have enough practice for writing.
6. Learn how to introduce yourself.
In the book (tip #1), you will be guided on how to introduce yourself. It’s easy once you know the basic vocabularies and simple introductions. If you find yourself confused, you can always check the back pages for suggested answers.
7. Learn to ask questions.
For the speaking test, you will be tested on your ability to ask and answer questions. It’s important that your vocabulary is wide. There are three phases for the speaking test. First is introducing yourself. The second is asking and answering questions about “recreations” and “activities”. Pictures are laid face down on the table and each picture is a theme. There will be about three or four candidates in the room and two examiners. Candidate A will pick up a picture and based from that theme, she will ask a question to Candidate B. Candidate B answers, picks up a picture and asks a question about that picture to Candidate C, and so on and so forth. I asked a total of 3 questions and answered 3 questions for both Phase 2 and 3.
8. In speaking, if you aren’t certain with the articles, better drop them.
This is an example given to me as a tip by a friend before I took the test. Both are correct.
Entschuldigen Sie, können Sie mir bitte Schlüssel geben.
Entschuldigen Sie, können Sie mir bitte den Schlüssel geben
9. Do the listening exercise from the book – tip #1 – by listening to the CD and answering the questions at least twice.
I did this only once because I really had no time and I was all cramming. I was fine, but you can do better than I did. By listening to the conversations from the CD for how many times, you become familiar with the pronunciations, speed and nature of conversation of native German speakers.
10. Check some online materials. There are lots of wonderful sample tests and fun activities that can help you online.
Sample Placement Test
Sample Paper, The Standard Test – scroll down to the German materials
Test your German Online – online tests that quickly give your score
START DEUTSCH 1 – a sample of the real test
p.s I’ll update these links soon
11. Focus! This is what you need in order to learn everything necessary in a short time.
The biggest challenge of learning German language all by yourself is overcoming distractions. You use the internet to learn and there’s always the desire to check who’s in facebook, what’s the newest twitter update, how your blog is or what’s the most recent fashion report. You need to remind yourself that once you’re done passing the test, you’ll have all the time in the world to do those things. Therefore for now, FOCUS!