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Comments about TREFFPUNKT

- what students wrote about us -

Carloline good-bye  Carloline good-bye

Dear Alexandra,

here is my sharing of thoughts on Treffpunkt, based on my experience. Also I send you a few tips for beginners, for you and the web site if you so wish.

I didn't thank you properly when I left for everything that you/your team had done, it was a great time at Treffpunkt ... and I learned so much ... so a BIG thank you and hope to come back in the summer for a short while ...



April 2002

A personal view on Treffpunkt

On the basis you've got this far through the Treffpunkt web site, it's likely you're pretty serious about finding a Language Institute in Germany. And, if you're like most people when they trawl through the Treffpunkt website, you're probably also feeling a little sceptical. How do I know that a school that I have never heard of, in a town that is unknown to most Germans let alone 'auslanders', really won't just take my money and run? Do they really offer what they say they do? Will it really be worth the investment of my time, and as importantly, my hard earned cash?

All I can say, as someone who had similar thoughts last October, is that this website is indeed inaccurate. In fact, it is extremely misleading.

Because in truth, the environment, the teaching and the personal attention that one receives from Alexandra who owns the school and her team, is actually far BETTER than described here.

I could go into great detail as to why. But as proof, I booked a two week course last October. As a beginner, I wanted a longer course but I had no faith in committing either myself or my money to a school which I had never heard of.

I ended up staying than three months. And during my three month stay, many students of all ages, nationalities, backgrounds, abilities, shapes and sizes passed through Treffpunkt on their one, two, three or four week programs. And not once, did I hear a complaint, a moan, or even a whispered reservation about the school, teaching or environment. What I did hear and see, was many, many, satisfied students. And I was one of them (if I hadn't been, I certainly would not have stayed such a long time).

So what makes for a satisfied student or customer at Treffpunkt. I think the reasons are clear.

  • First and foremost, Alexandra (the 'Chefin'), her partner Joachim, and the teaching team really do CARE that you are both learning and enjoying the process.
  • Secondly, the flexibility of the Treffpunkt team, who tailor the programme and topics to suit the needs of the students. As an example: in my classes, we would agree with our conversation teacher (Amin) what topics we wanted to cover. So not only were we learning the language, but learning about the things which are difficult normally to do as a 'visitor', such as how industry and the economy really works, the breakdown of the social security system, and so on.
  • Thirdly, the 'Freizeit' program is both extensive, educational and fun. Everything from bike tours through to films , pub (or Kneipe evenings, otherwise known as Stammtisch) through to excursions to nearby towns are covered. And if you go to Bamberg, don't miss either Joachim's or Christoph's walking tour of Bamberg … so much knowledge of the area between them it is awesome. And the strange thing is (and I really don't know why or how Alexandra or Joachim manage to do this) they don't charge you for their time on these additional activities. Only for transport, entrance and other external costs.

Not only do these 'Freizeit' programs make for fun, but also for good learning!

And last but not least, Bamberg is a WONDERFUL town. And even though I have spent a very cold, damp winter there, I can say it, hand on heart, and really mean it. Bamberg really is one of the most beautiful places in the world as it has the best of all worlds. It has a long history, beautiful buildings, and, being on three rivers, is very picturesque. It is small enough to get around easily, but with many, many excellent bars, restaurants, clubs and cultural activities.

Add that environment, to a brilliant Language Institute, what more is there to say?

Other than to perhaps offer a few tips for your stay at Treffpunkt and Bamberg:

  • First, as others state on this site, unless you really need it to get to Bamberg, do NOT take a car. Parking is extremely difficult (and expensive!) and a car is of no use within the town due to its narrow, cobbled streets and plethora of travel direction restrictions (Parking fines are horrendous and, as I found out, parking inspectors are in force after midnight!). Bamberg is small enough to walk everywhere (and much healthier!), hiring a bike gives you even greater mobility, and the train service to main towns is extremely good.
  • Second, do be realistic about how quickly you are going to progress in the German language. If you are a beginner, and are staying for a week, with all the best will in the world, you will not be fluent at the end of that week! What you will have, is enough of the basics to start working out your own structures and building on that knowledge when you get back home. This may sound obvious, but especially if you are new to learning any language, realism about what is going to be achieved is essential if you are not going to feel disappointed or demotivated at the end of your course!
  • Third, don't get despondent if you were taught something in the morning, and have forgotten how to use it in the afternoon (or indeed have just heard or written a new word, and forget it immediately afterwards). That is normal!
    Linguistic studies (and personal experience!) show, that when you are taught something the first time, whilst you may acquire that information, your brain needs time to process it, which normally means there is a time lap between acquisition of knowledge and being able to use it spontaneously. So even if you were able to use a new structure or vocabulary set in the classroom, but fumble around for it in the Kneipe later, don't despair (or waste many hours like I have worrying about whether your brain has gone soft)! It will come back to you! Particularly as during your lessons (which is one of the great benefits of having lessons split into grammar and conversation) you will have opportunity to reinforce that learning (and indeed try it out, even if your brain has only at that time processed half the information).
  • Fourth, do be realistic about how much you can actually cram into your brain within a given period. However keen one is, or however hard one works, there is only so much processing the brain can do at any one time. So, it's a good idea to pace oneself!
  • Fifth, if you are a beginner in the language and find the teaching right from the start in German a bit of a shock. Stick with it, and don't worry about it! I personally found this extremely discomforting, but after a couple of days for some reason it all starts making sense. Truly!
  • Sixth, whilst it might be tempting to hang around with any students from your own country (and of course speak your own first language), do try to avoid this (or at least hang around with them and try to speak some German). Looking at people's progress whilst I have been at the school, those that really made an effort to speak German progressed a helluva lot quicker than those in the minority who took the easier option of chatting away in English, Spanish or Italian. Difficult at first (as well I know!), and can be extremely tiring, but as they say, no pain without gain. In the same vein, my personal experience is that even those students who are well advanced in the language, are always happy to help out.

Finally, and most importantly, have FUN!

Also from Caroline:

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