The first German immigrants arrived in Victoria in 1849 when the colony was looking to attract people to work in the vineyards. This was followed by hundreds more Germans, many of whom hoped to find gold, with German immigrants quickly growing to be the largest non-British population in Victoria in 1861.
After a slight downturn, during the first and second World Wars when Germans were banned from immigrating, Melbourne and the rest of Victoria have grown to become a popular immigration location with Germans now forming the largest ethnic group in Victoria.
Despite a vocabulary that sounds oddly familiar to the English speaker, German can be quite difficult to learn initially, with its challenging grammar rules and unfamiliar concepts, such as masculine and feminine distinctions in nouns. However, once this has been somewhat mastered, you'll be well on your way to progressing through each level and achieving your communication goals.
The German community in Melbourne is vibrant and encourages community participation in a wide range of events. If this piques your interest and you find yourself thinking, Ich will Deutsch lernen (I want to learn German) then Melbourne is a great place to start and continue your language learning adventure.
Keep reading to discover where to find some great German classes in Melbourne, from formal learning and language centres through to community-based schools. And don't forget the brilliant option of engaging a German tutor from Melbourne (or anywhere else in Australia, for that matter).
The Best Available German Lessons in Melbourne
The type of course or classes you choose will depend on a few factors, including:
- your purpose for learning German (travel, work, family etc.)
- your preferred style of study and learning (interactive, speaking, written, one-on-one)
- your prior experience with German study (complete beginner, intermediate, advanced, native speaker background).
While most language schools or education institutions cater for every level, the structure of their classes and the ratio of speaking to written work may vary greatly so it is important to do your research and find a course that matches your needs.
The Goethe-Institut is operated by the Federal Republic of Germany. The cultural institute is active worldwide and has two branches in Australia, one in Sydney and the other in Melbourne.
Their overarching goal is to promote the international learning of the German language and understanding of the culture. In Melbourne, the Goethe-Institut presents contemporary arts and culture events (including exhibitions, festivals, concerts and talks), supports teacher training and professional learning, maintains an extensive e-library and hosts the proficiency test in Canberra, Perth and Adelaide (as well as Melbourne and Sydney).
However, what we are interested in today is their provision of German lessons in Melbourne.
The Goethe-Institut provides in-person German classes in Melbourne for students of every level (beginning, intermediate, advanced and bilingual) and also caters for students who prefer to learn online from anywhere in Australia. These classes include:
- standard German courses in blocks of 30 hours
- holiday courses for children and young students (4 to 6 years, 7 to 11 years and high school students)
- separate courses for students both with and without bilingual backgrounds
- specialised courses at every level for both speaking (conversation) and grammar
- business courses and tailored company lessons.
In addition, adult students can also apply to learn German at any of the 14 Goethe-Institut campuses across Germany; students aged 12 to 16 years can apply to attend the German Language Summer Program in Austria; or you can book a language learning holiday at one of five locations across Germany.
In the past, a community school would only cater for students with a bilingual background or native speaker status. These days, however, it is increasingly common to see a community school offering two streams of classes (one for the non-native speaker and the other for the native speaker) plus some events where the learning streams are mixed.
A community school is often not-for-profit and staffed largely by volunteers. Teachers are most often native speakers of the language themselves, but not always.
The motto of this community school is 'German that sticks'. They operate after hours and offer two German streams (native speaker and German as an additional language) in a variety of forms, including:
- playgroup (for birth to 3 years of age) and kindergarten (3 to 4 years), both activities-based and focused on the language immersion experience
- school age classes, with two streams — native speakers and German as an additional language
- adult classes, beginner and advanced, for parents or grandparents of the students.
All teachers at Geckos are native speakers of German, either born in Germany or born in Australia to German parents.
Temple Society Australia — German lessons in Melbourne
The Temple Society was founded in Germany over 150 years ago and is a Christian organisation and independent faith community. Apart from their religious services, they also run independent, after hours community language classes in two locations near Melbourne CBD — Bayswater (35 km) and Bentleigh (13 km).
Their program, which has been taught for the last 60 years, caters for school age students who:
- have at least one native speaking parent at home with whom they speak German regularly
- are learning German at school, or who want to learn German as a second language.
In addition to lessons, students also have opportunities to participate in competitions and cultural events.
If you prefer a little more structure and routine in your language learning, a language centre might be more your style. These centres usually cater for every level — beginner, intermediate and advanced — although they often don't provide lessons for German-English bilingual speakers. Teachers at a language centre may be native speakers themselves, with a high level of English proficiency, or they may have learnt the language they are teaching as a student themselves and achieved a high proficiency level.
East Melbourne & German Language Centre
At first teaching only German, this centre was established over 30 years ago and quickly expanded to include other languages such as French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese. Their German teachers are all native speakers of German and qualified teachers or university lecturers.
In non-Covid times, the centre conducts evening classes in blocks of 10-week terms for every level from the complete beginner to advanced skills. They also offer private online tutoring at a per session rate, with discounts for bulk lesson packages. These sessions are particularly popular with students who need to study for the VCE.
In addition to regular classes and private tuition, the centre also offers language training and cultural awareness programs for business, and summer courses in German conversation or grammar revision.
It's not all study either. The East Melbourne & German Language Centre also holds regular social events, giving students the opportunity to meet other students in a more natural environment, allowing them to practise their language skills in a fun, relaxed setting.
Located in St Kilda, lessons at Language Excellence are interactive and focus on communication skills but also cater for the development of reading, writing and grammar skills.
Their classes include:
- small group classes (from 4 to 8 students)
- private small group classes (the student and a friend)
- online lessons
- private one-on-one sessions
- VCE exam preparation
- company training.
Teachers are bilingual and students at every level are catered for.
Working with a German Tutor in Melbourne
Depending on your learning style, and your current needs, a private German tutor in Melbourne may be what you need now. There are a number of reasons people engage private tutors:
- Some students feel uncomfortable, or find it distracting, in a larger classroom environment. They perform better and achieve their goals more efficiently in a one-on-one teaching-learning scenario.
- A student may have a very specific focus, such as studying for a proficiency test or their VCE. Their individual needs are better met in a private lesson with a tutor.
- Students who are studying German at university may want an extra boost in the way of private tutoring, to practise specific concepts or grammar points. They may be after extension work or may want to have extra speaking practise with a native speaker.
To find a tutor, you can search online, or check out your local community noticeboard or university student services.
The great thing about Superprof tutors is that they usually offer the first lesson for free and are very flexible when it comes to the mode of delivery, offering either in-person tutoring or online tutoring.
One of the best things about online tuition is that it doesn't matter if you and your tutor are on opposite sides of Australia. You might be in Melbourne, but that won't stop you from improving your German with a great tutor from Perth, Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
The platform that connects tutors and students