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The German Education System

At this time of year, schools and universities in many countries around the world are in their first weeks of the school year. German schools actually started again several weeks ago, whereas the fall semester for colleges and universities doesn't begin until mid-October. There are many videos on Yabla German that reference the school system in Germany, which can seem a bit complex at first. The system may also differ slightly depending on which Bundesland you are in.

 

In Germany, der Kindergarten is attended by children generally between ages three and six, much like a pre-school in the United States. Prior to that, babies and toddlers may spend time at a nursery, which is called die Kinderkrippe. Day care centers are generally referred to as die Kita, which is short for die Kindertagesstätte.

 

Die sechsjährige Tochter ist im Kindergarten aktuell noch.

The six-year-old daughter is currently still in kindergarten.

Caption 33, Cettina erklärt: Auswirkungen des Coronavirus

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Ihre Kinder können nicht zur Schule oder in die Kita.

Your children can't go to school or to daycare.

Caption 7, Coronavirus: Fernsehansprache von Angela Merkel

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Children usually enter primary or elementary school (die Grundschule) at age 6 in Germany. 

 

Das Singen in der Grundschule ist besonders wichtig.

Singing in elementary school is particularly important.

Caption 27, Freude am Singen: mit Primacanta

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At age ten (and at age twelve in Berlin and Brandenburg), there are then three types of secondary schools students can choose from depending on aptitude and their educational goals. Students who will likely later do an apprenticeship or technical training would most likely attend die Hauptschule. Die Realschule prepares students for a variety of possible careers, whereas das Gymnasium is an academic high school that prepares them for university. The resulting degree after Gymnasium, a high school diploma called das Abitur, more or less guarantees entrance to a German university. In some cities, you may also find a comprehensive high school, more like in the United States, which is called die Gesamtschule.

 

Zum ersten Mal findet der Projekttag in einer Haupt- und Realschule statt.

For the first time, the project day is taking place at a trade-oriented high school and a career-oriented high school.

Caption 21, Gewaltprävention: Gewalt an Schulen

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Wart ihr in Deutschland auf einem Gymnasium oder einer Realschule?

In Germany, did you go to an academically-oriented high school or a career-oriented high school?

Captions 8-9, Nicos Weg: Bewerbung

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Ohne Abitur kann ich doch aber gar nicht studieren.

But without a high school diploma I can't go to university at all.

Caption 33, Die Klasse: Berlin '61

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There are different types of institutions for higher education in Germany. One can attend die Berufsschule, which is a vocational school where students may simultaneously do an apprenticeship, or die Fachhochschule, which is a university of applied sciences. Generally, die Hochschule is a university or college, though larger institutions will be called die Universität. You'll note below that both die Hochschule and die Universität are used to refer to the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.

 

Die Idee dazu hatte Professor Meyer von der Evangelischen Fachhochschule Darmstadt.

Professor Meyer had the idea for it; he's from the Evangelical Technical College of Darmstadt.

Captions 10-11, Bespielbare Stadt: Griesheim

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Ich war jetzt grad zuletzt an der Hochschule in Karlsruhe.

I was just recently at the university in Karlsruhe.

Caption 39, Anja Polzer: Interview

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Was studierst du hier an der universität in Karlsruhe?

What do you study here at the university in Karlsruhe?

Caption 8, Geoökologie: Cettina interviewt Sarah

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Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and watch this video in its entirety to see if you can follow the use of these terms in the conversation. This website also provides a good overview of the education system in Germany. 

Verbs with laufen

There are many German verbs that consist of a rather common or basic verb combined with a prefix. Their meaning may then be somewhat or completely different from the verb they contain. You may have read our lessons about verbs related to gehen and verbs with holen. We also have overviews for sprechen and kaufenToday, let's have a look at some verbs that stem from the verb laufen

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By itself, the verb laufen is sometimes synonymous with the translation of gehen as "to walk." However, it also means "to run," and can be used to describe a human or animal running, but also a machine that is "running." It is often used to describe something that is in progress, happening, in operation, or proceeding. Take a look at how the following sentences are translated:

 

Wir laufen durch die Straßen.

We walk through the streets.

Caption 39, Christina Stürmer: Wir leben den Moment

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Ja, und wie läuft's bei dir so in der Wache? Nein, sag bloß!

Yes, and how is it going with you at the station? No way!

Caption 46, Großstadtrevier: Von Monstern und Mördern

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Und das sind die drei Kriterien, wenn die gut laufen, dann läuft auch der Blindenfußball gut.

And these are the three criteria, if they go well, then blind football also goes well.

Caption 22, Blindenfußball Treffen nach Ton

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Die meisten kennen mich wahrscheinlich aus der Sendung „Der Bachelor“, die sehr erfolgreich auf RTL läuft.

Most of you probably know me from the series "Der Bachelor," which is having a very successful run on RTL.

Captions 11-12, Anja Polzer: Interview

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Sorry, das läuft auf meinem alten Laptop nicht. Da müssen wir zu dir.

Sorry, this won't run on my old laptop. We'll have to go to your place.

Caption 35, Die Pfefferkörner: Gerüchteküche

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And now for some related verbs. Let's begin with ablaufen, which can mean "to go," "to proceed," "to lapse," or "to expire." 

 

Bei manchen Leuten läuft's sogar komplett ohne Symptome ab.

For some people, it even runs its course completely without symptoms.

Caption 23, Coronavirus: Schutzmasken zum Selbermachen

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Jetzt werde ich euch erzählen, wie ein Tag in meinem Leben abläuft.

Now I will tell you how a day in my life goes.

Caption 16, Jenny erklärt: Zeitintervalle

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Deine Zeit ist gleich abgelaufen.

Your time will be up soon.

Caption 21, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Among its many meanings, verb auslaufen can mean "to spill" or "to leak," but also "to run out" or "to peter out."

 

Die Ostalgie-Welle ist auch langsam ausgelaufen.

The wave of "Ostalgie" has also slowly petered out.

Caption 2, Der Trabi: Das Kultauto aus dem Osten

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Then there are the verbs verlaufen and sich verlaufen. As you can see, these have very different meanings!

 

Bis jetzt ist alles wirklich gut verlaufen.

Up until now, everything has really gone well.

Caption 7, Berufsleben: Probleme mit Mitarbeitern

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Du sagst, wir haben uns nie verlaufen.

You say we've never gotten lost.

Caption 21, Philipp Dittberner: Das ist dein Leben

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Further Learning
You can find many other verbs in this list, some of which are more common than others. You will find many of these on Yabla German as well. Try to make your own examples with the following verbs: davonlaufen, fortlaufen, entlaufen, and herumlaufen.

The Preposition "to" in German: Part 2 — in

In last week's newsletter on the preposition nach, we also looked at a few instances in which in is used to express going to a place, specifically for certain countries. In is also used to talk about going into town (in die Stadt), and actually also to talk about going into the mountains (in die Berge) and into the forest (in den Wald).

 

Ich als Hamburger bin hier eigentlich als Flachlandtiroler bekannt

As a resident of Hamburg, I am actually known as a "flatland Tyrolean"

und dennoch zieht es mich immer wieder in die Berge.

and yet I am still repeatedly drawn to the mountains.

Captions 3-4, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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In is a two-way preposition. With the accusative case, it is used to express movement towards a place — i.e. the English preposition "to." You wouldn't know it from the examples above, but one pattern you can note is that it is actually often used when the goal is an indoor location that you will spend time in. It is perhaps somewhat similar to how we sometimes use the preposition "into" in English.

 

Wir gehen total gerne ins Kino.

We really like going to the cinema.

Caption 50, Anja Polzer - Interview

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Ich erinner' mich, wie wir nach der Schule immer in den Laden gekommen sind.

I remember how we used to always come into the shop after school.

Caption 29, Malerei - Benno Treiber

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Wir sind jeden Morgen in die Schule gefahren nach West-Berlin.

We rode to West Berlin to school every morning.

Caption 44, Die Klasse - Berlin '61

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Note how in das is shortened to ins in the first example above. This is a common contraction.

When speaking about getting into a car or boarding a bus or train, you can also use the preposition in, as the implication is that you will spend time inside. 

 

Und ich würd jetzt sagen, wir steigen jetzt ins Auto.

And I would now say, we'll get in the car now.

Caption 27, Sallys Tortenwelt und Kochwelt - Backen mit Kindern & Auftritt bei Radio Rumms

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Other phrases with the preposition in to memorize include ins Bett gehen:

 

Ich lese gleich noch ein Buch für die Schule und dann geh ich ins Bett.

I'm going to read a book for school now and then I'll go to bed.

Caption 21, Nicos Weg - A1 Folge 31: Am Sonntag koche ich

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Neuter Relative Pronouns: das or was?

Putting it in the simplest possible terms, a relative pronoun is a specific word in a sentence that has a relative clause. It's much easier to understand when you see an example: 

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The book that I read is quite old.

 

This sentence is dependent upon "that I read" because without these words, it would not be clear which book is meant. The word "that" is the relative pronoun in the sentence. 

 

In the German language, the relative pronoun is dependent upon the gender of the subject noun: 

 

Das Buch, das ich gelesen habe, ist ganz alt. 
Der Mann, den ich gesehen habe, war ganz alt. 
Die Frau, die ich gesehen habe, war ganz alt.

 

As you can see, the definite articles in the nominative case must take on the accusative case as relative pronouns: das/das, der/den, die/die.

 

But in the case of neuter nominatives, the German word was (usually translated as "what") is also used as a relative pronoun. The use of was as a relative pronoun is generally restricted to two usages, one of which is for neuter substantivized superlatives (nouns based upon adjectives), such as das Beste or das Schönste:

 

Das Schönste, was ich gelesen habe, war ein Buch von Goethe.

 

The German word was is also used as a relative pronoun with neuter demonstrative and indefinite pronouns, such as das, dasjenige, dasselbe; alles, einiges, nichts, vieles, manches, weniges, etwas, and so forth.

 

Das, was Sie hören, ist Musik von Mozart.
Es gibt einiges, was ich noch lernen sollte.

 

It is incorrect to use the relative pronoun das in the three examples above. 

 

Further Learning
Here are some examples featuring relative pronouns on Yabla German. See if you can fill in the missing relative pronoun with either das or was:

 

Gab's etwas,          nicht so gut war?

Was there something that wasn't so good?

Caption 30, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Weil oder obwohl? - Part 2

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Das Mädchen,            am Spielfeldrand niedlich zu den Jungs hinsah...

The girl who, on the edge of the playing field, looked sweetly at the boys

Captions 2-3, Olli Schulz - Spielerfrau

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Als wäre das Leben,           hier einmal war, verbraucht.

As if the life that once was here were used up

Caption 8, Christina Stürmer - Millionen Lichter

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Er ärgert sich auch über manches,           über ihn geschrieben wird.

he also gets angry about some of what is written about him.

Caption 19, Thomas D - Ärgernisse

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Aspirin ist ein Medikament,           ich nehme, wenn ich Kopfschmerzen habe.

Aspirin is a medication that I take if I have a headache.

Captions 13-14, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Der Relativsatz - Part 16

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Das ist das Beste,           es gibt auf der Welt.

That's the best thing that there is in the world

Caption 36, Monsters of Liedermaching - Ein Pferd

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Milch ist ein Getränk,           ich nicht mag.

Milk is a drink that I do not like.

Caption 29, Deutschkurs in Blaubeuren - Der Relativsatz - Part 16

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Alles,           mit Kommunikation und Sprache zu tun hat.

Everything that has to do with communication and language.

Caption 26, Anja Polzer - Interview - Part 1

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Deinen Namen zu nennen ist wohl das Schönste,           ich sage.

Naming your name is absolutely the most beautiful thing that I say

Caption 35, Xavier Naidoo - Ich kenne nichts (das so schön ist wie du)

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Es gibt am Flughafen wohl nichts,           es nicht gibt.

Indeed, there's nothing that you won't find at the airport.

Caption 42, Flugreisen - Was mache ich, wenn...

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Click on the video links to see if your choices were correct!

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Don't feel bad if this seems hard—even native speakers sometimes get it wrong by accident or as slang usage. The full title of the song above by Xavier Naidoo is "Ich kenne nichts (das so schön ist wie du)." According to grammar rules, the das should have been was. It's also a common mistake among native speakers to say or write things like Das Buch, was ich gelesen habe and Das Buch, dass ich gelesen habe. Luckily, we now know the correct way to write it!

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