German language & culture
German language and culture training are the keys to successful integration when relocating to Germany. Since 2001, Deutschpartner, a small, friendly, family-owned language school has been serving expats in the Frankfurt area in the field of German language teaching and cross-cultural training. Located in the picturesque town of Königstein, Deutschpartner helps expat families integrate and feel more at home. We talked to founder and owner Kai Wachs.
Knowledge of language and culture of your host country
are keys for successful integration
You speak several languages and studied languages at university. Have you always been interested in languages?
It was right after school that I did my state service at the Goethe Institute, the German state organisation for German language and culture. Since then, languages have been both a hobby and work for me. I learnt a lot of languages but most of them only halfway – too bad!
You worked for large organisations for several years before starting your own business. What made you decide to leave the corporate world?
I was fed up with the bureaucracy and inflexibility of big organisations, and together with my wife we started our own business, Deutschpartner. The objective was to have a small, flexible, family-owned language school only for German as a foreign language.
You work with global companies who have international staff. What language services do you offer them?
Our work is based on the belief that knowledge of language and culture of your host country are keys for successful integration and an enjoyable overseas assignment. Our clients are global companies who understand the value of such skills. We offer training of German as a foreign language. Each student is different and so are our services. Learning speed, style and contents, time and place – everything is customised to the student’s individual needs. We also offer advice on all aspects of living in Germany – administration with authorities and socialising for example.
German stereotypes include being direct, punctual, organised and efficient. How true are they?
Absolutely true! I spend a great deal of my time explaining to foreigners that when Germans are being direct to them, they don’t mean to be rude. It’s simply a very straightforward way of communicating. Germans always seem to be correcting others, but in fact they want to help, believe it or not! By the way, they are the same towards each other. In the same way,
explanations can be found for most stereotypes. Being late is seen as wasting other people’s time; being organised saves you time for your hobbies etc.
You offer cross cultural seminars for expats coming to Germany. What are they and why are they important?
When coming to a new culture, everything that was true in your former life may not be true anymore. It gives you a feeling of being lost. Feelings towards the new country that were maybe positive in the beginning may turn into frustration, mistrust and hate if you don’t understand why the locals behave the way they do. At Deutschpartner, we help expats to understand the reasons for what they experience. This can have an enormous impact on their perception and can eventually turn their stay into a fantastic time for them and their families.
You were born and raised in Germany and have lived in England, China and Russia. How much do you feel your experiences living abroad have influenced your business?
A lot. Having been an expat myself helps me to understand my customers. In general you can say that looking at your own country from outside opens up a totally new perspective.
What advice would you give to families thinking of relocating to Germany?
Start learning German using apps like duolingo and memrise; get familiar with German 20th century history just a little bit; get used to beer!
What do you love about your work?
Meeting foreigners every day, permanently finding out new things about countries and cultures, being able to help.
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