At one point or another learning German is something every international living in Berlin needs to address... but if all the options to do so have seemed too straight, Mercedes von Kulessa‘s new school QUEER_gesprochen?! may be a fit for you
Let’s face it: learning German is daunting. But it’s exhilarating (or it can be!) and it certainly makes life an awful lot easier if you’re planning on staying around for the long haul. So what about finding a German tutor who’s specially attuned to LGBTIQ* identity? Look no further than the new QUEER_gesprochen?! language school, opened in April of this year, and its founder Mercedes von Kulessa, a qualified teacher whose mission statement is clear: to build a safe space for LGBTIQ* people to express themselves confidently in German; and to unlock a new, diversity-sensitive version of the language.
“I’m Queer, and my students are all LGBTIQ* people – at least, as far as I know,” says Mercedes with a chuckle. “Some are living in Berlin, but others are hundreds of miles away and curious about moving, or simply interested in the language.” They’re learning to describe their sexual and gender identities, learning about current affairs, the etymology of words like “Homosexuell” and the German vocabulary for “intersex”, “bi”, “aromantic”, “trans”. “Those textbook case-studies don’t reflect real life for many of us: always the white, nuclear family. Mum, dad, son, daughter, Labrador dog.” Mercedes, an adoptive Berliner, admits that new pronouns like “hen” and the German ‘gender star’ (an asterisk which renders a noun gender-neutral) cause much consternation. “But there’s no point getting defensive about this evolution in language: it’s happening anyway. Language changes all the time. And I would like to be on the right side of that change – with my students!”
When corona abates, Mercedes hopes to offer in-person lessons; for now, check out queergesprochen.de to book your online classes at all levels from A1, offered in both private or group sessions.