Former Team Members:
The challenge was pretty straight forwards; learn conversational German so that my Swiss wife and I could have our own secret language in mixed company. I had a brief stab at online courses and found out quickly that these were aimed at the generic tourist who wants to say ‘Guten Tag’ and ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ when she visits Germany!
Then I met Frau Dr Gerlind and within a week I knew more about learning German than any online course was going to teach me. Marion (I can call her that, now we are friends!) took a very structured and disciplined approach to what is a very difficult language to learn. Within six months of weekly classes, I was able to hold pidgin German conversation. A year later, I can hold my own with the plumber in describing what the problem was. In Switzerland NOT in Berkeley! That is progress. All credit goes to Marion.
If you need to learn German, you need Marion. Period.
- Hari Kumar
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I found Marion online, since I wanted to study German before starting my graduate studies, and have taken both private and small-group classes with her for the past year and a half. Marion has been an excellent teacher, always thoughtful and patient, and expects a high standard from her students. She has given me great preparation and confidence to travel to Berlin for an intensive German course at the Humboldt Universität, which I am about to undertake. She is also a very friendly person, and fun to talk to! I highly recommend the Gerlind Institute to anyone who wants to improve (or begin) their German.
Thank you so much, Marion!
Nathan Herschel Levine
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My daughter loved taking German lessons
with Marion Gerlind. Marion is a creative educator, in both the German
language and culture, and under her tutelage, my daughter achieved
a strong working knowledge of the language. The culture/history lessons
helped make the language more real and accessible. I highly recommend Marion as a
person of high integrity and a caring educator.
Roberta Kunkel, parent of student Caroline Kunkel
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“Marion Gerlind offers an excellent
language learning program at The Gerlind Institute. My son was here for the
summer after a year of college German and wanted to further his studies. The
class met weekly in a small group with very good accompanying text and workbooks. My son
said the teaching was top notch and he achieved his goal which was to progress with his
German and possibly test out of second year. The program is organized and well taught. Additionally
the cost is low for such excellent quality. Communication with Marion Gerlind via email
is flawless. I really recommend this Institute.”
This is a recent Yelp! review from Karen B. Please add your own reviews to Yelp! to boost
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Member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI@Berkeley)
Course taught: “The Zero Hour:
Post-World War II German Literature (in English Translation)”
- Eileen Kraskouskas, Ed.D., Member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
I was unable to attend [the farewell] lunch on Monday but wanted to let you
know that I thoroughly enjoyed your class. I hope that OLLI will be offering many more classes
with you as instructor. Could you let me know if there will be a learning circle
(I’m not sure if
that's the correct term) related to anything German. Also, could you please put me
on your email list for films presented through The Gerlind Institute. I’m pondering the possibility
of participating in your language classes to work on my long-neglected German, but
am not sure I want to make the commitment at this moment.
I have many years of college
credits under my belt and observed college instructors as part of one of professional
responsibilities; I can say that you are among the best I’ve seen. You bring great creativity,
sound expertise, good energy and well developed organizational skills to the classroom.
Thanks so much.
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I had the pleasure of
getting to know Marion over the last several months. She worked with
me to clean up my grammar for the German exam I need to pass in order
to obtain permanent residency in Switzerland. Marion is professional,
thorough, encouraging and kind. She is truly passionate about her
work and cares deeply about her students. Thanks, Marion, for being
such a dedicated and caring teacher.
- Kristin Jordeth, Communication Director, UBS AG, Switzerland
I had a wonderful experience
studying at the Gerlind Institute. Marion is a clear and thorough teacher,
and she was able to customize a program for me that included German grammar,
vocabulary, and culture. Working with Marion made me feel confident and
prepared for a trip to Berlin, and now that I'm here I can't believe
how much I was able to learn in a short time. I highly recommend the
Gerlind Institute for any German language needs.
Rebecca Krouner, www.rebeccakrouner.com
meinem langen Lebens als Student der Welt habe ich viele
Lehrer und Lehrerinnen gehabt, aber ohne Frage bist du
eine der besten wegen deiner Ermutigung, Sensibilität, und
Inspiration. Und dafür bin ich sehr dankbar. In der Tat können Worte nicht wirklich
meine Dankbarkeit ausdrücken.
UC Berkeley, www.lesrowntree.com
is a friendly and effective teacher. We signed up for classes with
her when we decided to move to Germany for work, but neither of
us spoke any German. From the beginning, Marion ran almost the entire
class in German, even though we were starting from square one, but
it never felt overwhelming thanks to her positive and encouraging
attitude. Classes were well organized and fun, and we learned so
much in the process. Now that we are in Germany, we are amazed by
how we are already able to communicate simple ideas and sentences,
and all that after only two months of classes! Her enthusiasm for
the language is infectious! Danke schön, Marion!
Rebecca and Cyrus Farivar. Rebecca is an English Teacher and Poet, and Cyrus a Freelance Technology Journalist.
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I’ve taken several German classes in groups
and decided that I wanted the attention and focus of private instruction.
I was delighted to find Marion and the Gerlind Institute. Marion is a very
talented, inspiring and patient teacher. She is genuinely interested in her
students’ lives and cares deeply about helping them improve their German
skills. She is great at figuring out how you in particular learn,
also good at pushing you that extra bit. I thoroughly enjoyed
the two years I spent learning with Marion.
Penny Dedel, Berkeley
Marion was a fantastic teacher of German and
our sessions were really enjoyable. I am an intermediate speaker of German
and wanted to get more familiar with some basic phrases and professional
vocabulary for my work. Prior to my trip to Berlin we met once a week for
six weeks. The lessons helped me immensely. Phrases and words that we studied
were reinforced with the audio-recording I made, and in everyday situations
while traveling. I felt more confident speaking in German and this was
ever so meaningful.
Marion is truly an excellent, patient, and engaged teacher.
She is well prepared for lessons, and discusses the goals with students
on the first session. Her teaching style is very directional, and also
collaborative and flexible. I recommend Marion highly!
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Marion is a responsive,
knowledgeable and confidence-building teacher, as well as a kind person.
She gives full attention, full patience, and an open mind.
Marion makes a point to be well-prepared with outside
materials and lesson plans, but she's also flexible with her curriculum.
It is genuinely important to her to teach towards a student's personal
German-learning goals, and she listened and adjusted her teaching to
meet my interests, questions, and needs, and she encouraged me through
every step of my learning.
I have found that there are advantages to learning
from a native German, and was able to ask her many questions about the
idiomatic usage of different words or phrases.
Additionally, as a college student I could not have
studied with Marion if not for her sliding-scale prices. She shows a
real commitment to working with students from a variety of backgrounds.
Cohen, musician and student at New England Conservatory
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a tremendous help to me in writing and editing my application materials
in German for the International Parliamentary Scholarships program
(which included an essay, my resume, and paragraph answers to several
questions). She was very helpful not just with the translation
of my materials and the proofreading of spelling and grammar,
but also in terms of editing my materials so that my application
conveyed how much I wanted to participate in the program,
and was tailored to the program's goals. Although I was not
selected for an interview for the program, in retrospect,
I am glad I completed the application because I learned a
lot from Marion and it was a good experience to have—it made me realize
how much I am still interested in the German language, culture
and the country, and has rekindled my desire to continue
with my German studies. It meant a lot that Marion was willing
to help out someone who she'd only met once before, at a
previous conversation group meeting; she truly exemplifies
the role and ideals of a teacher.
Noeline Arul, San Francisco
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ich Marion fand, war ich verzweifelt, und ich wusste nicht,
was ich tun sollte. Ich hatte einen Deutschkurs belegt, der es mir
erlaubte, die Prüfungen zu machen, ohne die Klassen zu besuchen.
Nachdem ich das Textbuch bekam, wusste ich sofort, dass ich das Material
nicht allein bewältigen konnte. Nachdem ich mehrere Wochen mit den Stoff
kämpfte, gab ich auf und suchte nach einem deutschen Tutoren. Ich fand
viele, aber etwas an Marions Beschreibung war sehr zugänglich und qualifiziert.
Sie war eine deutsche Muttersprachlerin, sie zeigte Enthusiasmus, und
sie war flexibel mit verschiedenen Niveaus. Meine Intuition war richtig.
Es gab Tage, an denen ich völlig überwältigt war, aber ich kam trotzdem
zu meinen Privatklassen, und Marion führte mich durch diese schwierigen
Zeiten bis zu dem Punkt, an dem ich den Kurs erfolgreich
absolvierte. Sie hat mich inspiriert, weiter zu machen, sogar
in Momenten, in denen ich scheinbar keine Energie mehr hatte.
Ich empfehle sie als eine ausgezeichnete Lehrerin.
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Marion is an exceptional teacher.
She makes learning German fun! She was always positive
and encouraging. I looked forward to and enjoyed each class.
Marion possesses the gift of teaching and gave me confidence
in my abilities, even when I struggled. It was refreshing to learn
with Marion. My only regret is that our time was so short. I hope to
be able to study with her again in the future.
Happy New Year, Marion!
This note is just to say how much I appreciate what you are doing for German cultural studies. Even though I am not studying German with you anymore, I love reading your website. It is so well done and informative; I hope you have many more successful years with GICS.
- Best regards from Margreta von Pein
so much for your excellent professional service. This [translation of
old German documents into English] is a
nice addition to my husband’s family tree.
- Nancy Drews, Minnesota
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with Marion the past several months has been very rewarding.
As a requirement of the Ph.D. program I'm in, I had to pass a German
translation exam, and this is what Marion and I worked on together.
the past semester, my translation abilities improved remarkably,
due in large measure to Marion's ability as a patient,
effective German tutor. She tailored our lessons to those
that would best suit my needs and encouraged me with consistent reinforcement
and helpful strategies. Cannot praise Marion enough.
Her teaching abilities are matched only by her own character, which
is honest, considerate, professional, and kind.
Last September, before I began taking lessons with her, I did not stand a
chance at passing this translation exam but I'm pleased to say, that after
a semester working weekly with Marion, I successfully passed this
challenging exam last month.
Ramie Gold, Ph.D. student, UC Berkeley
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Anne M. Klint, Artist
I cannot speak highly enough of Marion Gerlind
and her language training! I am the recipient
this year of a highly competitive Rotary
Ambassadorial Scholarship to study abroad in
Leipzig, Germany. Basic language competency is
naturally required to study in many foreign
countries, but having learned German in high
school and a bit in college (too many years ago
to mention!), I thought I would be able to pass
my preliminary language exam.
was I mistaken! In a panic, with my scholarship
hanging in the balance, I had the good fortune
to find Marion Gerlind. Not only was she able
to accommodate my frantic schedule, but also in
a handful of sessions she helped unlock my
latent German skills and thoroughly prepared me
to successfully retake my language exam. I refuse to consider
my fate had we not met! Vielen Dank Frau Gerlind—für
deine grossartige Hilfe und Freundinschaft!
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has been a great help to me in learning German over the last two
years. She had a multitude of training techniques and was very adept
at picking the ones that would improve my comprehension the fastest.
She could clearly explain German grammar, which is notoriously difficult,
in a manner I could follow. She could clarify not only the rules
of grammar, but often the sense behind the rules. Other tutors I
had tried couldn't provide this level of insight.
At the same time, she
kept the learning process fun by using casual conversation and role-playing
in German. She was patient when I needed help, but also knew when
to challenge me to find the right words myself. Over time, I found
our lessons a very comfortable place to speak and listen to German,
which is exactly the type of environment I needed to improve.
Marion made a real effort
to reveal the culture and cultural
perspectives of Germany. I believe
that, in her view, an essential
part of learning a language is
learning the cultural perspectives
of the language-speakers. These
are the things a textbook cannot
teach and prove very valuable
learning a language.
Ti-Fred Torres, Director of Xinet Technical Support
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Marion was an amazing
tutor, and I highly recommend her. Her teaching style is warm and
thoughtful, and she is personally committed to helping her students
meet their goals. In less than three months, she taught me how to
read very complicated scholarly German articles so that I could quickly
translate them into English. I was very impressed with her breadth
and depth of knowledge about German language and culture, and also
with her efficiency. Thank you Marion!
Ward Hightower, Ph.D.
student, UC Berkeley
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am privileged and honored to
provide this recommendation
for Dr. Marion Gerlind. Dr. Gerlind
has served as my private German
tutor for over two years. I find
her teaching methodologies age
and culturally appropriate, engaging
and refreshing. Dr. Gerlind draws
from her wealth of experience as a language teacher, native German
speaker and oral historian incorporating cultural aspects of German
literature, folk traditions and history to enhance instruction and
language acquisition. Her mannerisms are gentle, attentive and engaging.
Teaching plans are mutually negotiated with attainable set goals
to ensure the student progresses at a satisfactory pace.
I have progressed with
Dr. Gerlind from the point of a non-speaker to achieving the ability
and inner confidence to tour Germany alone, speak with local residents
in German, utilize basic German reading skills and be comfortable
in group social settings. Dr. Gerlind has assisted me to build a
bridge to my German roots and enriched my life.
Scott W. Miller, RN, MS, Ph.D. (abd)
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have studied with Marion for the past
3 years in order to resuscitate my high school
and some college German (from some 40 years ago)
for the purpose of genealogy. Marion has been
marvelously supportive and adaptable to my chosen
learning methods, which included free conversation
on every topic imaginable, writing letters and deciphering
old ones written in the old German script, and scant
outside preparation on my part. Through our once-a-week sessions Marion has
brought me from a “hopeless with languages” person truly afraid to volunteer any words “auf
Deutsch“ (in German) to a confident conversational participant always
eager to speak up at Klönschnack, the monthly German language group
founded by Marion. This last summer, I was able to engage with Germans
who spoke no English, and to navigate my way through the Niedersächsisches
Staatsarchiv in Stade, Germany.
it is apparent Marion has formidable
talents, her approach is the opposite of intimidating. She takes
careful notes during each session, and guides the conversation back
to familiar topics to repeat vocabulary. She alternates between letting
words flow freely, mistakes included, and going over finer points
of grammar and syntax in a clear, concise manner. She is amazingly
patient. Marion is truly the reason I have persevered to conquer
an area of learning that is difficult and frustrating for me. I recommend
her to anyone.
Madeline Kingsley, UC Berkeley UNIX computer,
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- Lu Stevenson, Oakland
have been a German language student
of Marion Gerlind’s for the past 10 years (the first three
years meeting regularly with her for private
and semi-private lessons, and since then
meeting with her for assistance on translation
projects and in group classes she has held.)
have the highest esteem for Marion as
an instructor. She is truly gifted—with
a natural talent for teaching, which she
has developed and enhanced through her
interacting with her many private students
as well as her university-level teaching and studies.
The one hundred percent full attention she gives to everything
she does she gives to her teaching as well, and it is evidenced in
my learning of German as well as the results I have seen in other
of her students.
I began studying German with Marion I
was an almost complete beginner. I have
never learned another foreign language
so quickly, easily and naturally.
Marion is able somehow (seemingly
magically) to impart knowledge,
support, and confidence to her
students that translates into
enlivening and enjoyable yet
solid core language learning
that is intellectually stimulating
and challenging. Her lessons
are always thoughtfully prepared:
they usually (at least in my
case) included “everyday” conversation
as we shared about the week “practical” situational
German (for example exercises in asking
or giving directions, or booking a hotel
room); and literature or other reading
with discussion of form and content.
I always leave an instruction hour with
Marion feeling more stimulated, enlivened,
and informed than before.
Marion's aliveness, effectiveness, ethics and joy-in-teaching are
a gift and great luck to anyone who studies
Attending Klönschnack provides
occasions to practice expressing ideas about current topics in German.
The opportunity exists as well to share the impressions of those
who have visited or lived in a German speaking country. Interesting
exchanges result in a group of different ages, profession, and origins. ~
Marions Persoenlichkeit spielt eine
sehr grosse Rolle in der Bedeutung der Gruppe. Als Vergleich
habe ich auch einmal im Monat mit dem anderen Stammtisch
ein Treffen. Da gibt's keine Leiterin/keinen Leiter,
die/der uns eine Richtung gibt und Ordnung hält.
Wir wissen alle, dass es wohl einen
Zweck hat, dass wir uns treffen, sonst kämen wir
nicht. Es ist wohl der Unterschied zwischen Plaudern
und Fleiss. AmerikanerInnen, vielleicht so viel wie Deutsche,
empfinden einen Drang zum zweckvollen Austauschen, das
beide Seiten erfüllt. Es ist wahrscheinlich auch
wahr, dass alle Unterhaltungen in sich einen Wert für
beide Seiten haben. Man stellt aber fest, dass wenn es
im Voraus zweckvoll bedacht ist, man die Erfahrung hat,
etwas als Ergebnis bekommen zu haben. Das ist zufriendenstellender.
Dies ist meiner Meinung nach auch für die Leute
wahr, die im Voraus nichts vorbereitet haben. Denn sie
wissen, dass es organisiert ist, zeitmäßig
und inhaltlich, sodass sie ein Ergebnis erwarten.
Ich danke Dir für deine Leitung,
Genauigkeit, und pünktliche Zeitgrenzen. Sowas gehört
zu der deutschen Kultur genau wie die Sprache selbst.
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was first exposed to German by studying music of German
composers as a young adult. He subsequently enrolled
in his first language class at a local junior college
and later continued his studies as an exchange student
in Leipzig. After earning his bachelor’s degree in German,
Aaron served at AYUSA Global Youth Exchange as Coordinator
for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program,
a cultural immersion program for high school students.
Aaron then served as Development Associate
at Berkeley Symphony, where he oversaw grant operations
and managed the application and reporting process. He
was a student at the Gerlind Institute from 2013 to
2015. In 2016, he completed his Master’s degree in Linguistics
and Literary Studies at Middlebury College. He now lives
and works in Berlin. Drawing on his extensive experience
in the nonprofit sector, Aaron was responsible for building
capacity for the Oral
History Series by expanding its
financial resources, establishing partnerships with
other entities and developing fundraising strategies.
My parents are Chamorros, natives of Guam, who moved to
the 1950s. I was born in San Jose and
attended primary and secondary
schools run by the Jesuit order. I graduated
from the University
of California, Berkeley in 1988. I entered
the realm of German language at university,
reading Kafka, Max Frisch and much later,
Thomas Mann and Hans Fallada.
To my ear, classic Standarddeutsch has
an elegant sound and
rhythmic phrasing; witness the acting
performances of Wolfgang
Why study German? A knowledge of German has opened up a
whole new world to me. German Unity Day 1992:
I attended an anti-fascist rock concert
in Brandenburg, outside Berlin. It was a politically tense
week. Right-wing and left-wing groups were
clashing. Foreigners were
being attacked, even killed, on the S-Bahn.
My friend Jens, other Stadtguerillas
and I braved the night,
traveling from the relative safety of
the dark suburbs of Brandenburg. That
evening at the concert
I met young Germans who had never spoken
to a foreigner. At the Gerlind Institute
I hope to build community and understanding
Brigitte Schulze Pilibosian
I love languages as a medium for communication. When we are able to express ourselves through the use of language we have a chance of mutual understanding. With this in mind, I like to teach students German even though my degree is in Russian. As a German native speaker, I taught students in the Ukraine both German language and journalism.
My work as a journalist, book author, and radio presenter made me realize my love for the German language as a bridge of communication. Since 2016, I’ve lived in the Bay Area, where I pursue my passion of educating people about Eastern Europe and teaching German.
I am happy to join the Gerlind Institute team.
I was born and raised in the southwest of Germany and recently graduated
from Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany. From January 2009 to
August 2010, I studied Linguistics/TESL and taught German at Indiana
State University (ISU) in Terre Haute, IN. At ISU, I received my first
master degree and then completed my second master degree (Erstes Staatsexamen) in German,
English, and Pedagogy at Johannes Gutenberg-University. I am especially interested
in teaching languages and Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies, and Feminist Linguistics.
During my time in the United States, I joined the Gerlind Institute for my internship in June
For me, learning and teaching languages and cultural
studies, or, in other words, everything that the Gerlind Institute stands
for, enables us to broaden our cultural and personal horizons. The
Gerlind Institute offers us all an opportunity to build a strong, visionary,
supportive, creative, caring, and diverse community.
Born in Dresden, I had to leave my native East Germany in 1975 as a young
child with my parents, due to their “political differences” with the regime. It took
me 32 years to emotionally return, realize, and rediscover my true roots to my homeland. In West
Germany, I lived in Braunschweig and Wunstorf, finishing high school. Immediately after graduating,
I attended high school for one year in Pennsylvania, USA, as part of an exchange program. Upon returning
to Germany, I studied at a 2-year business college in Hannover, and received a certificate of "Economics
Assistant of Foreign Languages and Correspondence." Subsequently, I worked in various corporate
In 1991, I immigrated to the United States, majoring in Music and fulfilling
general education requirements at Los Angeles City College. From 1998 to 2000 I attended the
University of California at Los Angeles, and received my Bachelor's Degree in Ethnomusicology.
At that point, I had achieved one of my biggest dreams: to study music! In 2005, I moved to
Northern California and settled in the East Bay. Since January 2007 I have been teaching German
on Saturdays at the German School of Fremont. I suddenly realized my love of my native tongue:
its delicacies and intricacies, its poetic intelligence and grammatical challenges. Now I even
spread “Germanisms” daily throughout my community and the internet, to make English
speakers aware of the fact that German and English once were the same language and have much
in common, while having developed such different structures over time. I also began to study
Old German/English/Norse, and am continuously amazed by their similarities and development.
Being born in the state of Sachsen (Saxony), and tracing my family line back for hundreds of
years there, where a strong accent presides, I began to buy books and research the internet
of this, my true native, local accent, with much amusement and passion. Because of my East German
background, I am especially interested in the history and culture of that area, and now spend
a few days in Dresden every time I return for family visits.
To me, the Gerlind Institute provides an engaging, personal, and family-like
atmosphere to study German on cultural and humanities levels, with much focus on current issues.
I am happy to be part of German studies in such a supportive and academic environment.
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