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Comments about TREFFPUNKT

- what students wrote about us -

In the beergarden Greifenklau for lunch.
In the beergarden Greifenklau for lunch.
Nick on the left hand side.

In addition to Nicks first comments he answered an other enquiry about TREFFPUNKT courses with a lot of details about the school, leisure opportunities and accommodation.

Find a copy of the original e-mail exchange below.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

QUESTION:

March 2002

Dear Nicholas,
I saw your comments on the Bamberg site and was wondering if you could be of some help to me. I am currently looking for a school to learn German. I have about seven'eight weeks and am willing to put in the time needed. I am also thinking about living with a family if I choose Bamberg. Let me give you a little bit of my background. I am 59, married with two sons. I currently teach history in New Jersey (Advanced Placement). I have been to Europe many times, mostly France(I speak French), but never to Germany.

I need your opinion on the learning situation at the school and about living Accommodation (family, in town, etc).
Could you possibly help me?

Sincerely,

Bob

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NICKS ANSWER:

Hi Bob,

I'm sorry, this mail seems to have grown somewhat unwieldy as
I kept on tacking on new ideas. Please get back to me if I you've any nagging questions!

First of all a little background... I'm 39, I live in
Bamberg, but work as a software engineer (and teach English)
30 miles south in Erlangen. Unlike you I never really wanted to learn German, but I met my ex-girlfriend while taking an Italian course in Italy. I then took a four week course Goethe Institute in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and a year later at Treffpunkt. I liked Bamberg so much I decided to move there from the UK (I was also growing bored of the life of a Ministry of Defence engineering civil servant).

So what can I say about the course...???

The core of the school is the owner/director Alexandra von Rohr - she and her Partner, Joachim Graff, put so much energy into it that it is hard to imagine the school continuing without them. The school has the good fortune to be based in Bamberg where the University actually has a department that trains DaF (German as a Foreign Language) teachers, so the school has a ready supply, though Alexandra is, in a most un-German way, more concerned about how well the teachers teach and how well they get on with the students than what their qualifications are. She herself trained as an interpreter, but she is the best teacher I've ever had. The turnover of teachers seems to be quite slow, which is nice for those of us that keep in touch, and also a good sign. Last summer I returned to the school for another 4 week course and many of the teachers that had been there 3 years earlier were still there.

Regarding the courses, if you are here for 7-8 weeks you are well past what I have experienced as the "2-week" threshold where you really start to learn. If I were you I wouldn't choose the super-intensive course over so long a period, though the Intensive Plus courses do offer a nice mixture of class work (which is fun not so expensive and the core of your life in the school) and private lessons. But you can book private lessons later if you want.

Having already learnt French, you won't be part of the group which knows absolutely nothing about grammar, so at least at the beginning the intensive plus course might suit you best because (assuming you have no German at all), you'll need to start at the beginning, but you'll be able to accelerate into the second class fairly quickly. Already knowing how to learn a language gives you (at least in my experience) a two week advantage in the first month if you are prepared to put in a bit of extra learning. German is VERY different from French and Italian, but knowing what a tense is, what an object is etc. makes a big difference. If you ever studied Latin, you'll be even better off. But I'm sure you know your own learning patterns.

The only disadvantage about taking a longer course is that many students only have time to take 4 weeks and it is always sad when the other students leave (I once took a 12 week course in Italy, and had to "lose" two groups of friends).

Maybe you'd also like to mail one of the students who was at Treffpunkt for a longer course. I'm sure that the school will be glad to give you some email addresses.

I'm not sure if I'm answering your questions, though...

Maybe I should talk a bit more about the students...
When are you planning to come? At the moment there are about 15 students in the school, and the age range is spread fairly evenly from around 18 to 55 (I haven't asked anybody their age). The school is very different in summer, when it has around 50 students (I think), a lot of which seem to be young (early 20s) Spaniards , but with a similar number of older students as in Winter.

Leisure Programme
Bamberg is particularly lovely in summer, and offers lots of things to do outside swimming in the river (or in swimming pools), beer gardens, cycle tours etc etc. The leisure programme of the school is one of its great advantages. It gives you lots of opportunities to chat away in your newly learned German without "draining the batteries" too much. In winter (November-February) the programme is a bit more indoor based, though tours round the town are arranged roughly every fortnight. A nice feature for me and the other ex-students who now live in Bamberg (Treffpunkt seems to bring quite a few of us here), is the "Stammtisch" - every Thursday the students, some of the teachers and several of us "locals" meet in a pub to chat. I love it because it keeps me in touch with the school and I'm always meeting interesting new people.

accommodation
Staying with families is always a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. I have met different people who have stayed with the same family and have found them wonderful / not so good. It depends as much on you as on the family. I have never had a bad experience when staying with families, neither as a student in a Language Institute, nor as a lodger in England. As the brochure for a Spanish school I'm thinking of attending this summer says, "you need to make sure you fit in with the family culture". I can't really advise on this, but I'm 100% sure that the school will discuss this with you in detail if you have any particular kind of family in mind... (Singles / Couples / Children / Interests).

A key question you might like to think about is "Do I want a family that I really integrate into at the expense of not spending so much time with the other students?". One Swiss-French ex-student I know had a really good landlady who often came along with her to the school events, but as I said I know little about this and you'd be better asking the school, and asking them to give you the addresses of people who have stayed in families.

Regarding position of your accommodation, you'll find a map at www.bamberg.info/stadtplan . The school is in Hauptwachstraße (former location: Obere Koenigstrasse) in gridbox B4. The town is totally flat in the top-right three-quarters of the map, and is ideal for cycling. Once one crosses the Regnitz, though one arrives at the foothills of the 7 hills of Bamberg, the highest of which is Altenburg (F1). The oldest part of the city is based in this hilly part. The modern shopping centre lies in the middle between the Regnitz and the canal. Treffpunkt, as you can see lies just on the other side of the canal. If you want to take part in the social programme of the school If you don't like cycling, it's probably better to get accommodation not further north-east than the station (Bahnhof A5/6), which is 10 minutes walk from the school and 25 minutes walk from the area town where all the bars pubs etc are. But if you're wanting to spend a lot of time with your host-family, this is less important.

In Summer, we swim outdoors in a pool or in the river at Hainbad (F4/5). I live in a 16th Century building in Concordiastrasse (E3).

I should in all fairness let you know that Alexandra and Joachim have become friends of mine, but then many other ex-students say the same. The school is really friendly, and Alex and Joachim keep in contact with (and visit on holiday) lots of their ex-students. The school is their joy and passion. I should finally add that I have been the "customer" at three other schools (Italian and German), and teacher at another (English) when I was doing my Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults, and from this perspective Treffpunkt is the best school I have attended. I have good friends in all, but Treffpunkt really is something special.

Best regards

Nick

 


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