Queer Life in Germany - Learn German from a German Teacher and Native Speaker

In the news recently were a series of articles about how an increasing number of Americans are traveling to Germany for their education, as German universities offer free education to both their citizens and foreign students alike.  That's just the cherry on top when it comes to LGBT visitors to Germany, who have been coming year after year to enjoy all that Germany has to offer the LGBT traveler.  With Germany's progressive acceptance of gay & lesbian life, ranging from its varied nightlife in Berlin to its same-sex domestic partnership laws, it's no wonder it ranks as one of the top European destinations gays & lesbians travel to year after year (source: Community Marketing & Insights, 20th LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Survey).

While someone speaking English in Germany can get by in most places, having at least a foundation in basic German will open up a whole host of life experiences and opportunities simply not available to those not understanding the nuances of the local language.  New York City is very fortunate in having a new recent resident straight from Germany, Nico Jacobi, both a German teacher and a native German speaker, here to assist LGBT New Yorkers in learning German, from basic grammar to full on conversational German.

Holding a Master's degree in teaching and education from the University of Cologne, he's had the opportunity to be taught under the famous Professor Kersten Reich, who developed the concept of Interactive Constructivism in Education.  Implementing those skills here in New York City, Nico offers professional and personal German tutoring and classes.

We caught up with Nico recently, and asked him a bit about his history and why he's chosen tutoring as both his profession and calling.

I understand from your website that you participated in and won the US Green Card lottery. What had initially made you decide that the US was where you wanted to be?  And why New York City?
Nico: Yes, I won the Green Card, after participating in the lottery for 11 years. It took some time, but it worked after all ;-) I decided that I wanted to move to the US when I was in 8th grade. The diversity of the US impressed me. In Germany, I always felt bored and rejected by the "unified" lifestyle. I can express more individualism now! Thats a huge relief. Almost everything is possible in New York City. Thats important for me. I want to get to know a lot of different, interesting people who have something to say. I need to live a dynamic life.

Gay life and the rights of LGBT people have come a long way in Germany… and in a considerable time before they were won here in the US.  What is gay life like in Germany, both from a tourist’s perspective and for someone who wants to consider living there?
In Germany, almost everybody is tolerated. I agree, that in some ways its easier to live as an LGBT person. But it depends a lot on where in Germany you live and you have to adapt more than in the US. Germany offers way more social security than the US. They expect you to live some kind of unified life, though. Its a little difficult to explain that in just a few phrases. If people want to learn more about that, they would probably have to learn German with me, I guess ;-) What I can say is, that Berlin is fantastic to live in as a queer person. Over the last 10 years it became very international and dynamic. I like that a lot. The queer scene is even better than in NYC.

How does that compare to gay life in New York City?
Germans have less issues with nudity. It's less religious, too. That makes it easier to live sexuality in general. Germans don't really like to try new things, though. They are not as creative as Americans. When it comes to creativity and entertainment, New York gay life is fantastic. Unfortunately, sexuality plays less of a role in the NYC night life. I feel like Carrie Bradshaw left New York and people don't care. I do care.

You seem to have a passion for teaching.  Was this something you’ve always wanted to do?
I graduated in teaching in Cologne and have been teaching German and Social science since 2007. When I finished high school I did not know what I wanted to do. It was kind of a coincident that I studied teaching / education. It turned out to be a very flexible and dynamic and probably the best job for me. Now I can work as a private teacher and meet a lot of interesting people. That's what I was talking about earlier. My job is probably one of the reasons why I can live individualism the way I need to. I love that.

For someone learning German for the first time, what can they expect after 6 months with you, on their first trip to Germany?  Will they feel confident they can order from the menu with ease?  Tell a taxi driver where it is they’d like to go?
That depends on the needs and goals of the student. If a student wants to learn to recite German phrases in the correct pronunciation, he is probably able to do that after 2 - 3 weeks. Most students want me to teach them an understanding of the language. To really understand the language, most students need around 2 - 3 months. After that its just practice and building vocabulary. How fast a student learns, depends a lot on how much time he/she spends on training his/her listening skill (for example, using TV). I provide a lot of media. If the student actually uses it, he/she is able to understand and speak after a few months already.

To learn more about Nico Jacobi's German language educational opportunities, be sure to check out his website at http://www.jacobiteacher.com/.


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