5 Reasons Why You'll Love Learning German in The Mosel Valley (A Big Announcement)

Dear Fluent Reader,

I'm so excited about what I'm about to reveal to you, but first of all let me take a second to honour you as a reader of this blog.

For the last four years, I've spent over 1000 hours teaching the German language to learners all around the world.

I have had the privilege of writing this blog for you guys, recording the Creative Language Learning Podcast and connecting with incredible language learners. You were here when I quit my job, wrote my first book, published new courses. Pretty cool.

But you know what? We've never yet had the chance to meet in Germany.

A Bold New Step For German Learners

Here's what's happening: Fluent Language is going to be hosting the first ever Fluent German Retreat in October!

I am so excited about this - the event is where I'll be showing you live how you can switch into "Deutschmodus", make 10x the progress of a usual week and have an unforgettable experience.

This is the most daring teaching step I've ever taken, and I'd love for you to be part of it.

Of course I'm also hoping that it will be just the beginning, with more languages, events and retreats to follow.

Why a Retreat?

If you're a dedicated language learner, you probably spend dozens of hour staring at books and screens. I know what that feels like.

It is undeniable:

Every language learner reaches the point where they are sick and tired of repeating the same activities. The point where it's time to bring your language skills to life. You're lusting for a new experience, a language immersion that can offer that coveted German breakthrough.

You can take language courses. But as you already know, simply learning in a classroom isn't enough. It also isn't what I dreamt of offering you, because I have been dying to show you how awesome my Germany is.

With the Fluent German Retreat, you can sign up for an unforgettable week of language immersion right in the heart of German wine country.

This experience is about taking a break from your usual life, switching gears and entering your own German mode. I'll be leading the experience, building up your speaking skills, supporting you with my years of experience and knowledge.

Discover Germany's Hottest Destination

Our amazing location, the Mosel valley, deserves its own moment of attention on our blog, considering it must be one of Germany's most thrilling landscapes. It's truly special, and it's also my own home which I cannot wait to share with you.

Allow me to tell you more about what makes this place the best location for you to learn German:

  • This region is hot in traveller circles right now. It was #34 on The New York Times's list of 52 Places to Go in 2016. Imagine telling your friends about how you learnt German on a wild stretch of German river, sipping the wine that was grown there..
  • This is fairytale Germany! You'll get lost in the charming Gassen of Bernkastel, chat to winemakers at a wine tasting and disccover ancient Roman amphitheatres and city gates in Trier - all in your target language.
  • The city of Luxembourg - a Unesco heritage city and polyglot paradise speaking 3 official languages - is only 20 minutes away.
  • If you're the active type, I'll have some amazing hiking trails to recommend to you. And if you not, you'll love kicking back on a relaxing boat tour.
  • The Mosel has been renowned for the quality of its wines for thousands of years. It is wine heaven. And we've all heard that language learner's wisdom about speaking more easily with a glass of wine in your hand.

Ready to hear how you can join us on the Retreat and have that German breakthrough?

You Are Invited To This German Experience

  • Are you a German learner ready for a week of immersion, fun and relaxation?
  • Does the prospect of speaking German for 5 days make you feel energised and excited?
  • Do you want to start speaking to native Germans and boost your speaking skill by 50%?

If you said yes to these questions, then it's your perfect time to join the Fluent German Retreat.

There are only five places available, and at the current time the applications have opened and are coming in. So if you're interested and would like to secure your spot, make sure you complete the no obligation RSVP form quickly to avoid disappointment.

It's so exciting to have put this event together and to open it up for your applications. Let's meet each other in Germany!

How To Get Germans to Speak German To You

One of the most common questions I hear from you guys is how to deal when other people refuse to practice your target language with you. I'm excited to present some awesome advice from Anja at The Germanz in Australia.

Matching this awesome topic, I've created the new guide Make Your German Sound Amazing, featuring 26 Key Phrases For Conversations with German Speakers. Just click on the little black button here to download it and use it alongside Anja's tips.

Germans and their love for English

When you get lost in Australia, the States or the UK and ask for directions, people will most likely answer in English. When you get lost in Germany, people will most likely answer in English too. 

Studies suggest that (only) 62% of the German population is actually able to hold a conversation in English and most movies and TV shows are still dubbed into German. In fact, most German customers still prefer things the German way and speaking German is still a necessity no matter where you live in Germany (with the exception of Berlin).
 
So why is it that German learners complain that Germans respond to them in English? 
 
What if I told you that you don’t just have to take it? No doubt, you can help Germans stay on track and chat away in German for ages. 

I’m German myself and I’m going to tell you about a few easy things you can do.

Why Germans Switch To English

Germans switch to English for three reasons. 

  1. Sometimes they want to help you
  2. Sometimes they want to help themselves
  3. Sometimes they just prey on the vulnerable and make you the practice tool

But most of the time, they just don’t know any better. 

1. They want to help you

Sometimes Germans simply think it’s being polite. They want to help you communicate more efficiently.

When you ask them, “How goes you? I not finds the station train”, they will most likely help you out in English without speaking a word of German. ‘Oh, that’s cool, they tried in German. They’ll probably understand better when I tell them where to go in English!’, the efficient mind will think.

Germans love speaking English, even when speaking German. Even though many Germans learn at least one foreign language in school, some of them fail to remember that only practice makes perfect.

Additionally, some seem to forget that the comprehension skills of a learner usually outweigh their speaking abilities.

The innocently English speaking German simply doesn’t get that you may understand, that it would be polite and helpful to respond in German. It’s like they buried their teenage memories somewhere in the deepness of their minds, along with that sneaky first kiss behind the school building.

Germans will think you just want to break the ice by saying a few words in German. They will return that favour and will try to make the conversation as unconditionally comfortable as possible for you. In English.

2. It's easier for them

But Germans are not always driven by lovely innocence. Some Germans are simply not patient enough: ‘It will be quicker and easier if I just tell them in English. I’m almost late already!’
If their guesstimate places your German skills below their own English proficiency, they might respond in English.

For Germans, it’s all about communicating efficiently. No overexcited small talk, no politely beating about the actual topic, no exchange of unnecessary information, but rather direct communication, cutting to the chase and getting this question answered as accurately and quickly as possible. In English.

3. Germans want to practise their English skills

Of course, let’s face it, a few Germans simply want to practise their English on you because they know how awesome it feels to finally speak in your language of choice. 

Moreover, they want to show off how good their English is to impress you (and others). They are going to take advantage of you. 

Imagine how convenient, they don’t even have to leave their country to get what they crave. Speaking English. ‘Perfect! This guy from England gets to speak German every day; doesn’t he live here in Germany?’ 

They quickly forget that a lot of others see their opportunity as well, and this poor guy from England and his German skills fall by the wayside.

Here’s what you should do, as well as what you should avoid, to keep up the conversation in German. 

How to Make Them Speak German

How can you fulfil your dreams and get those Germans to speak in German to you? Embrace these two rules that everything boils down to:
 
1. Speak no English to Germans

And

2. Make your German sound better than it is.

These two rules are the magic tricks that will lead to a happy life in Germany. 

Let’s have a look at how to put them into practice with concrete examples and workarounds.

Respond in German

To really cash in and get the Germans speak German, you want to stay away from English as much as possible.
 
Certainly, it will take some courage especially when you think your German is not good enough. But you know what? The Germans will work it out. If they don’t get what you mean, they will ask (in English or German, it doesn’t really matter). 

But if you’re asked, you’ll get a second chance to say it. You may even get some valuable feedback.
 
More importantly, when someone starts speaking English to you, just keep responding in German. 

If your German is already good enough, try to translate the English response into German and say it back to them in German. Be patient and stick to German to get them back on track, no matter what.
 
If you don’t understand, ask them what it means, in German

Once more, under no circumstances switch to English.
 
If you can’t remember the word and you really need to know it, do the following:

Describe the word in German and ask them about the correct word.

  • Was heißt nochmal das eine Pedal im Auto? -Nein, das andere. Ach, ja, das Gaspedal. - What would you call that one pedal in the car? -No, the other one. Ah yes, the gas pedal.) or

Ask them for the translation in German.

  • Wie heißt nochmal ‘dog’ auf Deutsch? - What’s the word for ‘dog’ in German again? 

Work on your pronunciation

As Germans like to switch when they think that communicating with you might not go too smoothly, how about you make your language skills less of a problem? 

If Germans think that you’re comfortable speaking in German, they are less likely to switch.
 
One way of making your German sound better than it is, is to be amazing at pronouncing things. Just practice the proper pronunciation and know how the intonation pattern of a sentence works.

Use phrases and conversation fillers

You could also use phrases and conversation fillers to make your responses sound more natural. 

The idea is again that we want to make our German sound better than it is. It’s like saying, “Keep going, nothing to see here”.
 
To keep up the flow when speaking, it’s a great idea to have handy the vocabulary you will need. But also don’t forget that natives use clichés and filler words, and they say ‘uhmm’ a lot. 
 
Here are some examples:

  • Ach wirklich/Echt? - Ah really?
  • Cool!
  • Macht nichts!/Kein Problem. - That’s alright!/No problem.
  • Hört sich gut an. - Sounds good.
  • Ach so. - Ah yea.
  • Stimmt!/Genau - I agree./Yeah, that’s right.
  • Na ja, vielleicht. - Yeah, maybe.

Compromise

Let’s face it, sometimes there’s no way that subtle hints will get them back on track. 

Please don’t take it personally, they might not even notice. The only thing that will help here is to be very clear about your goals, about genuinely wanting to learn proper German.
 
Apart from saying “Bitte nur in Deutsch”, you can decide to blitzkrieg and offer a language tandem. Your compromise could be
 
One hour speaking in German, another hour speaking in English.
 If you see them every day, you could agree to speak English from Monday to Wednesday and German from Thursday to Sunday.
 
If the two of you agree to correct each other properly and also provide alternatives for certain sentences and phrases, you could both benefit from the language tandem quite a bit.

Make (new) German friends

As your language skills progress, you’ll be able to chat away on more and more topics. You will be developing your ‘German You.’ It may be the same as — or completely different from — the English-speaking you.
 
With your ever-improving skills, making new German friends will become a lot easier.
 
If you have moved to a German-speaking country, you’ll hit the jackpot by joining a club (der Verein) in the German countryside, but clubs can be found anywhere across Germany, even in the big cities. Similarly, you want to get involved and lend a hand at the local Tatort night, the German-speaking weekly handcraft meeting or the local climbing hall.
 
Try to maintain a healthy ratio of English-speaking and only-German-speaking friends. You have a choice among about 100 million German native speakers in the European Union alone.
 
Don’t forget, the more you get to speak German, the easier it gets. Just let Germans know you’re up for a challenge. They will be up for it as well. 

Summary

In summary, please don’t get turned off by responses in English, keep learning German and remember these two fundamental rules: 

  1. Don’t speak English to Germans.
  2. Make your German sound better than it is.

On a concrete note, you could:

  • Always reply in German.
  • Ask for missing words and explanations in German.
  • Improve your pronunciation.
  • Use conversation fillers and ‘uhm’ a lot.
  • Compromise by offering language tandems.
  • Move to the German country.
  • Make (new) German speaking friends.

You’ll find more nifty tricks on learning and speaking German on my German language blog. 

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments about your favourite strategy in dealing with English speaking Germans. 

This article was written by Anja. Anja lives in Melbourne, Australia, is originally from Germany and writes about the German language and culture on her blog when she is not busy teaching German language classes. Hang out and have a chat with her on Google+ or Twitter.

The Hottest German Lesson in Town: Deutschland 83 and Major Tom (PLUS Free Lyric & Vocab Sheet)

One of the most wonderful things about learning a foreign language is to get to know the country behind that language. What is beyond the flashcards? What makes that place? It's awesome to dive into history and geography, cook a few recipes (like Shannon from Eurolinguiste) and of course discover what they watch and listen to.

If you're a regular listener of the Creative Language Learning Podcast, you may have already noticed that there is a new German language TV show on the block. Deutschland 83 is a spy drama set in one of my favourite periods of German history: the 1980s, right in the cold war. You can catch it on iTunes, on Amazon, or currently on Channel 4 in the UK.

german lesson deutschland 83

German History: Spies, Terror and Economic Miracles

So here's the world at the time of Deutschland 83: Germany lost a world war and then the Eastern part of the country was made into a Socialist republic. The West started a kick-ass economy that went so well it became known for its Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle of the 1950s. In the 1960s, youth rebellion and peace movement shook our society, and Western Germany even struggled with its own terrorist group, the Red Army Faction. All the while, the Eastern part of Germany was locked away behind a wall and involved in the hottest army race of the 20th century: the Cold War.

Plenty going on at the time of Deutschland 83 then! The show's premise places a young Eastern German soldier into the West, where he's given a new identity and a bunch of adventurous spy tasks. It shows society in the West and East, the big fear of atom bombs laying waste to all of Europe, and a few hilarious scenes where a confused bunch of high-level spies stare at a floppy disc, wondering what it does.

Discover Germany's Answer to David Bowie

One of the unmissable things about Deutschland 83 is its awesome soundtrack. Let me introduce you to its theme song "Major Tom", Germany's synth driven response to the wonderful David Bowie. I've prepared a lyric sheet for German learners which you can download below.

Major Tom, written by Peter Schilling, was inspired by Bowie's song "Space Oddity", which tells the story of an astronaut abandoning his mission, decoupling from base and going off to live in space.  In Germany, the song became a huge hit and one of the flagship sounds of Neue Deutsche Welle, the biggest 1980s pop music trend which also included Nena and her famous song "99 Luftballons". In fact, if you pay attention in episode one of Deutschland 83, you'll hear the song playing in the background at a party in East Germany (where playing Western music would have been an offence!).

Germans have never stopped loving Major Tom, and today there is no good beerfest without everyone shouting völlig schwerelos (completely weightless) and waving their hands about.

Bonus: Major Tom in French

Major Tom's fame was all over Europe in the 80s, so if you're a French learner you can use the same song for study. Here's the cover by Belgian synthmeister Plastic Bertrand (of Ça plane pour moi fame) will make sure that you don't miss out.

If you're listening to this song and can't shake the feeling that you know it from somewhere, it might be because Deutschland 83 is not the first show to feature Major Tom. If you're a fan of AMC's "Breaking Bad", you might remember the Gale Boetticher version - are those Thai subtitles?

Share Your Playlist

I'd love to hear from you about your own favourite 1980s tunes. Do you love pop music like Major Tom? Tell me about your playlist in the comments.

If you love the sound of Major Tom, don't forget to download your free Vocab & Lyric Sheet. 

You can also check out this article to get a step-by-step guide to using music for language learning.

 

Slower Travel: How to Buy Cheap European Train Tickets (Plus: Travel Itinerary from Germany to Sweden)

train-germany-sweden

Back in January I showed you how Christian and I travel Europe in my article on train travel from the UK to Germany via Belgium. This time, let me share a trip I am taking as a solo traveller!

Vineyards and Scandi Forests

As I am writing this, I am sitting on a train to Stockholm Central, typing on my laptop. I am on day 2 of travelling by train and have come a long way from the South! My summer trip started out with a flight from Manchester to Cologne (best flight option currently by Germanwings) for a family event. But as I was preparing to book my normal return flight, a Facebook post caught my eye:

“Need someone to look after our cat while we travel. Would any of our friends be interested?"

This came from a friend who lives in Stockholm! A new cat to hang out with and accommodation in an apartment in Stockholm? I was excited, and after some planning we matched up the dates and I decided to make my summer trip home to Germany into a big train adventure.

Here’s how the trip breaks down:

Day 1: Travel by plane from Manchester to Cologne, then by train to Wittlich Hbf

Img © Christian

Img ©Christian

The first destination in Germany is always the Mosel valley to me. I was there to visit my family, but don’t think that this wouldn’t be a beautiful place for you. The Mittelmosel can be reached by train to Wittlich Hbf with a bus connection to any of the small villages. It’s focused on winemaking, with lush green vineyards on the hills and a stunning river winding its way through the valley.

Language Tip: Hbf stands for Hauptbahnhof, the central station of any city.

The Mosel region is world famous for its wines and amazing scenery. Visit a local wine estate and enjoy a wine tasting with the original producers - guys who know what a vineyard, wine cellar and tractor look like. There are over 15 wineries in my home village alone, and of course I recommend Weingut Hammes (tell them I sent you!). The biggest wine festival of the region is called the Weinfest der Mittelmosel and takes place in Bernkastel/Kues in early September. If you are in town, don’t miss out on the parades, funfair, fireworks and the wine street.

The temperatures during my visit regularly reached 35 degrees, with nighttime temperatures around 20. Some of my favourite things to do include getting amazing gelato at Venezia, swimming outdoors and camping by the river.

Day 7: Travel from Wittlich to Hamburg, via Koblenz.

This is a 7 hour journey including one change and features the lovely rivers Mosel and Rhine as its backdrop up until Cologne. On the trip you will get to see German landscapes changing to the flat and the nautical. Hamburg makes a very beautiful overnight destination, as everything is close by and the city’s sights are within easy reach. It also allowed me time to catch up with a long-time-no-see school friend, Verena who is chief blogger at Hamburg von Innen. She has kindly put a few tips together for you so you can get the most out of Hamburg:

Start at the Landungsbrücken and get set for your day with a Fischbrötchen, the classic Northern German snack. While you're there, take the lift to the old Elbtunnel and cross the river to admire the new Elbphilarmonie building (set to complete in 2017). The views in this part of town are fabulous.
Walk through the Portugiesenviertel to the MichelHamburg's iconic church which offers the best views in town from its tower. On the way there, stop at Milch for an excellent coffee break. You shouldn't miss Jungfernstieg and Binnenalster, with a visit to Warnecke for some ice cream.
Take a stroll around the Speicherstadt and admire this UNESCO-listed cultural treasure. The best Hamburg-style food is Labskaus or Hamburger Pannfisch with an Alsterwasser (shandy).

My accommodation in Hamburg was a friendly little Airbnb apartment in Altona.

Day 8: Travel from Hamburg to Stockholm, via Copenhagen

There’s currently no direct train running between Hamburg and Stockholm, but the trip via Copenhagen is fun and adds little time in total. For this journey, I was on the tracks for 12 hours in total, with a 2 hour changeover. Hamburg to Denmark offers views of picturesque Friesland and a crossing of the Baltic Sea to get to the island of Fehmarn.

Evernote Camera Roll 20150720 155633.jpg

The journey features a truly exciting extra: Your train drives ONTO A BOAT. I was absolutely amazed by this. The ScandLines crossing between Fehmarn, a German island in the Baltic Sea, and Roedby in Denmark takes 45 minutes and gives everyone a chance to stretch their legs. 

The Swedish part of the train journey is all trees and meadows and water, a wealth of things to look at. The SJ train was comfortable and fast, offered free wi-fi, plugs and a little bistro so that you couldn’t be more comfortable.

Here in Stockholm, I’m getting around using the T-Bana (the city metro). My city guide book recommends Skansen, the open air museum to take visitors back to Viking times. I’m also planning to give a little bit of time to a nice walk around Södermalm, the beautiful old town and the open air baths. Being self-employed and staying here as a house sitter has made it possible for me to combine working and discovering this new city and I am very much looking forward to my stay (and to hanging out with Moppet, the cat I’m looking after).

How to Purchase your Tickets

Although navigating the Deutsche Bahn website can take a little getting used to, its wealth of connection and saver fare data means it remains a must when you are planning Euro train travel. Journeys abroad are open for booking as long as they’re offered by or in partnership with Deutsche Bahn. Alternatively, try The Trainline Europe.

I decided to opt for a mobile ticket, meaning I had to download the DB Navigator app and log in. I was amazed at how well this worked, conveniently allowing me to access my tickets and timetables on my phone, research alternative routes and get platform information. Even on the trip from Copenhagen to Stockholm, the conductor accepted my foreign e-tickets without question. Deutsche Bahn offers the option of posting the train ticket to you in hard copy. Be aware that lost tickets will not be replaced if you take that option, and there’s a small extra charge for it.

I bougnt a BahnCard too, a special offer from Deutsche Bahn which gives you 25% off each journey you take. Since the full trip from Wittlich to Stockholm was booked and paid through the Deutsche Bahn website, I was able to make this journey for just €110. That’s an outstanding deal, especially since I realised that it includes a ferry!

Notes on Learning German, Swedish and Danish

Learning German? My native language? Oh yes! This trip took place so recently after I developed my new German pronunciation course that my ears were more attentive than ever. My parents and I watched the news and listened closely to make sure the pronunciation is real Hochdeutsch. And we spoke more Moselfränkisch to each other than ever. On the train trip to Koblenz, I got to listen to some Trier boys drink beer and speak dialect. Do any of these expressions make sense to you German learners? I love and understand them all:

  • Hal dau mol de Schniss weile!
  • Du komen am Sunndisch die Frimmen vorbéi.
  • Dau Flappes!
  • Eisch hann die Freck, haut kann eisch néist.

The prize for most languages during a train announcement goes to the Danes this time, who racked up Danish, Swedish, German and English on their leg of my journey. I didn’t really stop in Copenhagen for very long, skimming over the Danish language on my trip to Sweden.

Everyone I have spoken to in Stockholm so far speaks English at an incredibly high level. But once again, you can tell that the “they all speak English anyway” excuse just doesn’t fly. They may be able to speak English to me, but they don’t choose to. I am happily wandering around at the moment armed with this little beauty, a dictionary from 1975:

The way I use my dictionary to help me learn the language is so much fun to me. I carry it around everywhere and take time to look up words that I see come around again and again (på, och, uttlev) and translate written texts. The dictionary also contains a pronunciation guide, and once I feel like I’m ready to do it I’ll try out my new word on a Swedish person just to check I’m getting it right. Spoken Swedish is not making a lot of sense to me yet, which is to be expected on day 2 a 10 day visit. But every day, I'll be adding words and making memories.

And here’s a little closing note on the languages of this trip (no Norwegian included): 

If it’s got an ø (pronounced “gulp” or something like that), it must be Danish. If it’s got an å (pronounced “oh”), it must be Swedish.

I would love to hear from you! Have you ever been to Sweden? Have you travelled a long distance by train? Share your best train travel experiences with me in the comments. 

Authentic German Words We Learnt on Our Holidays

Happy new year, everyone! I hope that you have been able to enjoy a Christmas break that was restful and you're feeling ready to tackle the challenges that 2015 will bring.

Stuttgart and German Regions

Personally, I have had the luxury of taking two weeks off and travelling around in Germany. It was great to visit Stuttgart as a tourist for the first time, and to walk the snowy streets imagining that this country is where we could live one day. And of course my fiancé made great progress as a German learner!

If you have never been to Germany before, you may not be familiar with the idea of Lokalkolorit, the local flavour of each region. With a country as diverse as ours, this extends to the languages and dialects spoken in particular. For example, Stuttgart is the capital of Schwaben, a region known for its frugal mentality and delicious Spätzle (OM NOM NOM). It is also the home of Mercedes, Porsche, and Äffle und Pferdle. This the cutest German cartoon classic, complete in Schwabian dialect.

Are you a Bananen or a Hafer person?

Words You Just Don't Learn in German Class

For your enjoyment, here are a few local words and observations from Stuttgart and the Mosel Valley. You can read more about these here.

  1. In Schwabia, anything that is a -chen (a little thing) in other German regions is now a -le. For example, Häuschen is Häusle.
  2. The German word for weak coffee? Or even worse, barley cup? Muckefuck (masculine). No really.
  3. When you've put on a few pounds because you have been very indulgent, Germans call this Hüftengold (neuter). The closest English equivalent we could find was "love handles".
  4. I have no idea why my father would have possibly taught the next word to my fiancé, but just in case you're ever in the Moselle and want to call a woman a nagger, call her en Geij (pronounced "ern Guy"). This means "a violin" (eine Geige) in our local dialect.
img ©christian cable

img ©christian cable

I wish you all a great start into 2015, and here on Fluent I want you to look out for two awesome things coming up soon: The Italki Challenge and the Language Book Club!

Deutschland im Herbst - German autumn vocabulary

Ah, the days are getting colder again. I'm sat here in my little office in a sweater and a denim shirt on top and soon I'll start wearing gloves at the keyboard. Many German learners might be curious about what the country is like in the autumn, so I decided to share my top 5 things that I will miss about Germany this September and October along with a useful vocabulary list and exercises if you sign up for my new mailing list.

Deutschland im Herbst is a special place, and the listed items are my own personal priorities, but of course I know that you may want to add others (something about Munich and beer?), feel free to post your comments!

Traubenlese (grape harvest)

Deutschland im Herbst

Deutschland im Herbst

I come from the Mosel valley and my parents make wine and our whole autumn is a time of vineyard work and harvesting. The hills are completely covered in vines and at this time of the year you'll see tractors everywhere, people working away in the vineyards all day long, but the most significant thing is the scent: The whole place smells of harvest, of fresh grapes and freshly pressed grape juice. Many harvest teams don't even come home at lunchtime but have their lunch brought to them to save time, and enjoy good food with one of Germany's best views..and then back to work!

Apfelkuchen

True to the harvest theme, the second thing autumn means to me is using all the orchard fruit in many new baked goodies. Der Apfelkuchen (apple cake) is one of the most popular recipes, it's easy to make and popular throughout the country. To recreate a true German atmosphere, cover the table in a good tablecloth, bring out the posh china and enjoy a big jug of coffee with the cakes - that's our Kaffee und Kuchen. 

Herbstlaub (autumn leaves)

Germany has 30% arable land (that's land for crops) according to the CIA itself, and we can also show a wealth of forest. As a result, the country offers some great autumn colours throughout the country, from city park trees to fields and vineyards, and of course at their best when you're enjoying them over a glass of wine at sunset. Or is that just me?

Hint: For visitors, the Nationalpark Hainich offers a beautiful view of golden October.

Bundestagswahlen

Okay, these are not around every autumn but they made it into the 2013 autumn list because this year is an election year. Der Bundestag is the German parliament, which is elected every four years. Our election days usually fall on a Sunday and they obviously shape the mood and debate of the whole country. Will you be watching on 22 September when Germany decides who might be the next Bundeskanzler or Bundeskanzlerin? Learn more about this important event through Logo or start off in English with help from the BBC in the fun video above. Advanced German speakers should read more about the parties at the Wahl-o-Mat website.

Tag der deutschen Einheit

Germany's national holiday is on 3 October and celebrates our recent and modern history. As a country that was defeated in a war, divided in the middle of a cold war and then reunited, everyone in Germany warmly remembers  den Mauerfall, the end of the Berlin wall. Even though our national holiday date wasn't chosen as the most significant date around, this day in autumn is still perfect for taking a step back and remembering how we got here (a good piece of advice for life, not just Germany). Have a look at the deutsch-deutsche Geschichte pages on Goethe.de for more information, and check out this cool pin on Pinterest with chocolate company Ritter Sport's unique take on German Einheit.

Don't forget to sign up for my mailing list to get your free vocabulary on Germany in autumn, including five exercises. To get feedback on your German, simply post your answers to these exercises in the comments for this article during the next week (deadline 25 September) and I will respond to your comment!