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 Aug 18 2022

Sprichst Du Deutsch? - German Language Lessons for Multinational Staff and their Spouses

ULM, GERMANY - Starting their life in Ulm and at the Joint Support and Enabling Command (JSEC) in the Wilhelmsburg Barracks holds quite a few challenges for international staff members and their families. Not just regarding the daily work in a new environment but rather one of the most important factors of human interaction: communication. In order to help multinational staff and their spouses settling in Germany, the Family Support Office started organizing German language courses and their popularity is constantly growing.

As serving in the Ulm barracks brings together many different nationalities and of course their languages, English is JSEC's common ground working so closely together. Yet sometimes, especially outside the barracks fence, it can feel like missing out on the real "German" experience if the vocabulary is limited to "Hallo" and "Dankeschön".

Therefore, in the beginning of 2021, the Family Support Office of the garrison started to organize German courses for international staff members and their spouses to help them getting to know the language of their temporary home.

Everything we study is very helpful for me in my everyday life in Germany

"This is my first German language course, so I am glad to be here and to learn in a very friendly atmosphere. Everything we study or discover is very helpful for me in my everyday life in Germany, and most importantly, Chrissi always provides us her knowledge with a big smile!", explains Ewa, spouse of a Polish officer and participant in the German course. 

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Meanwhile, close to 40 international students from 14 different nations take advantage of the opportunity to improve their language skills in one of the seven classes that take place from Monday through Thursday. Four German soldiers, who are based in the garrison, took over the teacher's job for this great cause.

"The German language course with top lecturers in the foreground is organized on a very professional level. In addition to learning the German language, through a lecturer's picked theme, it enables us to learn about German culture and discover the natural sights of the country. There is no doubt that it represents added value to every participant in the course," states Kristijan, Slovenian staff officer.

Chrissi, one of the voluntary German language teachers shares her experience as a JSEC Public Affairs officer taking on this secondary function. "For me personally, from a teacher's point of view, taking over German classes has been a great and educational experience," she states, "not only do the participants of my courses learn German, but I also get to learn from them and their culture."

In order to meet the circumstances of a growing international community in an ever-growing JSEC, new beginner courses are already scheduled to begin in late 2022.

"To introduce the students to my native language and to see them improving makes me feel like I am actively contributing to the integration of our multinational staff members and their families," says Chrissi, smirking, "my goal is to enable them to answer the question 'Sprichst du Deutsch?' with a confident 'Ja!' and a smile on their face."

Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command

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