After getting married, Steffi and Simon decided to move from the UK to Steffi’s home town in Germany. They wanted to start a family there and to raise their children near her relatives. For Simon, who was originally born in Venezuela, this meant the unnerving challenge of taking on a new language as German immigration and residency regulations state that it is compulsory for any non-EU citizen who wishes to reside in Germany to provide proof of a basic knowledge of the language when applying for the visa. A daunting prospect at 34 years old, the trepidation of learning German was mingled with his excitement at starting a new life with his bride in a new country. After a lot of thought, he decided to beat his nerves and get a head start with some German classes in Edinburgh where they lived.

He opted for the individual classes rather than the group lessons as he felt that one-to-one training would be more intense and beneficial for him. Besides, he had Steffi to practise with when he needed to do his homework! His teacher was a native German and listening to their accent helped him to pronounce the words in the correct dialect and enabled him to tune in to the German accent fairly easily when practising his verbal lessons. As he lived so near to the learning centre, Simon was also lucky enough to benefit from having his German classes at home which not only saved time and travelling expenses but also removed some of the nervousness from being back in an educational environment. It wasn’t long before he’d picked up the basics of the language and felt calmer and more confident at the prospect of moving abroad.

Now, three years later and still living in Germany, there are no longer any awkward silences or embarrassing moments when Simon tries to communicate with Steffi’s family. They happily converse with him and teach him new phrases as the situations arise. Having studied the German language full-time when he first relocated, Simon now takes part-time courses which help to build his vocabulary as well as his confidence. His written skills have improved no end and he even writes his Facebook messages in his native language of Spanish, in English and now in German to make sure that he doesn’t miss any of his friends out (and to show off a bit, naturally!). With a full-time job as a chef in a local bar, close friends and family, and a lovely baby daughter, it just goes to show that Simon’s hard work and determination at learning a new language was worth it as he now enjoys a very happy and fulfilling life in Germany.