Many ex-pats live successfully in Berlin with no German. However, it pays to learn the language. How good your course will be depends on your teacher. Good and bad teachers exist everywhere. The best teachers are often in the universities. Cheap German courses with good teachers are available at the city community colleges (or Volkshochschule). For cheaper courses budget around €280 /month for daily half-day classes Monday to Friday (16 course hours / week).
Humboldt University: has a very good summer university and courses for Erasmus students before each university term. Top-notch teaching.
Goethe Institute located in Mitte is the most famous language school. My experience is that the Goethe Institute is very expensive (more than €1350 a month for an intensive compact course, including a cultural program) and my experience is that the teachers are no better than in many of the private language schools. They have the reputation for going very slowly… a tactic for you to take a huge number of classes. Also they teach very communicatively, with less grammar.
Fees at a private school like Kapitel Zwei are €280/month for four weeks of classes (16 teaching hours/week).
The Hartnackschule located in Schöneberg is also cheap, but the teachers are hit or miss. A lot of people do it anyway because even if the teacher is bad, one doesn’t feel like one has lost a lot of money! It is easy to change out of a bad class into a good one. I was lucky and had a very good instructress. You can usually sign up on the day and there’s usually room. Courses start on the first day of each month.
The Volkshochschule has locations throughout the city and is the government-run program, that is subsidized with generally good teachers. The problem is that one needs to sign up and take a placement test rather far in advance and introductory courses book out quickly. There are a lot of new immigrants /refugees who generally really want to learn German.
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(the author asserts his right to copyright, revised 07/2023)