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English in German Public Schools

I’ve had a request from a blog reader to write about how English is taught in the schools in Germany, so here goes:

My son is a student in the local public schools in Stuttgart, and in our state (Baden-Wuerttemberg) they begin learning English in first grade using a British system called Playway to English ( There is a weekly video, along with singing and art projects they do with their teacher, and the children work their way through the books. In addition to this, I, and a mother from India did projects such as playing games and hosting snack times where only English was spoken. By the end of elementary school (fourth grade) most of the kids could speak basic English, and many of them enjoyed practicing with me.

As I’ve just mentioned, it’s a British program used in the schools. Most of the time the only difference from American English is pronunciation or spelling, but sometimes the word is completely different, such as “chips” for French fries, or “crisps” for potato chips. This annoyed my son, but as I always reminded him, if he’s in England, he’ll be able to understand everyone (this reminder also annoyed him, though it amused me greatly).

Something that helped me explain the differences between British and American English was that I learned German in Austria, so when kids would ask, “do you understand both ‘Father Christmas’ and ‘Santa Claus,’” I could ask, “do you understand both Erdapfel [potato in Austrian German] and Kartoffel [potato in German German].” That way they could see the differences were not completely different words, they were just not the words I used regularly.

In September, my son will start Gymnasium, secondary school in Germany, and we’ve chosen an art and language school, so it has a focus on these subjects. In fifth grade he’ll start learning American English, in sixth grade they’ll add French, in eighth Latin, and in tenth Russian. Should be an interesting eight years for us!

If you have any questions about life in Germany you’d like me to talk about, please let me know, and if you have any questions about selling a self-published book, check out my site!

The Top 3 Things Self-Published Authors Should Avoid

You’ve worked hard to write your self-published book. But there are three, key things you should know about in order to sell the most books as quickly as possible:

1. Never be afraid to ask questions about the publisher you choose.
If you are going to pay someone to print your book for you, you need to understand exactly what you’re paying for. Ask important questions up front:

• Does the price include shipping the books to you?
• Is there an editor who will proofread your book?
• Will the publisher use your book in their advertising, and if so, will you be compensated for it, perhaps with a reduced rate?
• Will the publisher help you market your book?

This way, there won’t be any surprises, and you you’ll know what to expect.

2. Never be shy about promoting your book.
Once you write your book and are ready to reach as many readers as possible, then you need to shout it from the rooftops! Tell everyone you meet about your book, send out a press release and try to secure media interviews.

Also, encourage friends, family and associates to help spread the word about your book. And if you’re too nervous to talk about it, have bookmarks, handouts, t-shirts, and other marketing materials printed to help advertise your book.

3. Never give up.
There will be disappointing times when you’re trying to sell your book, but you need to keep looking ahead. If you don’t believe in your book, why should anyone else?

You need to surround yourself with positive people who can encourage you during difficult days. For help, find a writing group online, or check with your local community center and join a group where you can meet face-to-face.

Patience Pays!

You spent many days away from family, friends and fun to complete your book. Now, before jumping on the marketing bandwagon, take the time to ask your publisher questions, prepare a promotional plan and get support. You’ll save time, money and stress in the process. Plus, you’ll end up selling a lot more books!

Do you have questions about self-publishing your book? Feel free to write to me here or at I'd love to hear from you!


I posted this blog a few weeks ago at Pink Magazine Online, but I thought my audience here would also like to read it...

The school year here in Stuttgart is fast winding down. My son will graduate from elementary school on July 29, and next year he’ll start Gymnasium (which is the last 8 years of school here, sort of a combined middle- & high school). This past weekend we went to our last School Festival and it was bittersweet for me and my husband but not for our son who spent the time with his friends rolling his eyes at me when I told him “I had four great years here.” He said, “You didn’t even go here Mama.” But it feels like I did and I'm sure many parents feel the same way about their children's schools.

The school festival here is like most elementary school festivals I went to when I was at school in the US. There was a bake sale, tug-of-war game, speech by the principal (the kids were all running around having fun – just the parents listened to this), parade of first graders who sang and waved paper flowers, and an exhibit of all the art made by the children throughout the school year.

My husband was assigned to work at the grill (hotdogs for sale – 2.50E each), and I spent time talking with my son’s beloved first teacher here and we both marveled at how fast the past four years have gone. We met her on our first day in Stuttgart, when we stopped by the school to pick up the school supplies list, and here we are moving on to another school preparing to say goodbye to her.

Thinking about this makes my eyes fill with tears, so I’ll stop talking about it and move on to later that day. After the school festival we were invited to watch the Stuttgart Lichterfest (Light Festival) with friends who have a house bordering the park where the fireworks take place. There we had a lovely evening – barbecue on the balcony, kids running around, interesting company (these friends are Norwegian-German and had invited guests from Norway, South Africa, Germany and us – I’m American and my husband is Austrian). One particular guest was a designer who worked on the Ice Hotel in Sweden and we were excited to tell him we spent a weekend there this past April.

Then, near midnight, we walked home through the throngs of people leaving the Light Festival and my son said, “Isn’t midnight when scary things are supposed to happen?” and I thought no, all time is scary because it’s moving so fast.

Weekend in Austria

My husband Dietmar is Austrian, and even though we live in Germany, we spend many weekends in Austria so our son can see his cousins and grandparents there. Dietmar grew up in Linz, the third largest city in Austria (after Vienna and Graz), but when his parents retired a few years ago, they moved to the small village where my father-in-law grew up. His mother (Dietmar’s grandma) was the schoolteacher in the village, so everyone there knows my in-laws.

One weekend we were arriving near midnight and to our surprise, a police car followed us all the way through the village until we pulled into my in-law’s driveway and got out of our car. We thought that was a little odd, but it was made even more odd when the following weekend my father-in-law mailed us a copy of a story that had been in their local paper that week. Basically the story said, “The Exlers of Hochscharten Street were visited this past weekend by their oldest son and his family who live in Germany. Their arrival was monitored by the police who noted the German license plate on their black sedan.”

I’ve traveled all over Europe, and the only time I’ve made the news here is when I arrived late one night in a small village in Austria.

Do you have questions about being a self-published author or entrepreneur? Feel free to write to me here or at I'd love to hear from you!

3 Quick Tips for Selling Your Comic Book

If you have a self-published comic book to sell, here are three quick tips to help you get started:

1. Check all online listing options.

There are a number of sites that let you do this and you need to figure out which best suits your needs and budget. My site,, for instance, charges 10¢ per month to list your book and takes 5% of the sales.

2. Look in your local phone book for comic and record shops.

Find out if you can leave copies of your book there for sale. Also, see if they have bulletin boards where you can leave ads for your book so readers can contact you directly.

3. Use sites such as Facebook,, and Twitter,

Start spreading the word about your book on various social-media sites and provide valuable information. This can generate interest in your book, and it can direct readers to you.

These are just three quick ways to start selling your comic book. For more free tips and information, visit And if you have questions about marketing and selling your self-published books, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!