You've learned German and (after our first tips) you are ready to roll? Here's how to do it: talk more professionally and talk less privately. Confusing? Wait till' we are finished.
Debates in rich German language: German Academia loves it, luuuuuves it! In fact, to most professors, discussions might easily be one of the most important barometers to measure the success of their seminar. As a consequence, teachers give students plenty of space to comment. Those who take advantage of this opportunity seldom cut it short. Advice to foreign students: do not be intimidated by the length of your fellow students’ statements, and do not try to emulate their linguistic complexity. Many have tried, many more have failed. Train yourselves to express comments longer than you are used to. Write down your thoughts and those of others in order to communicate your message more concisely. Give it all you got. The Humanities in particular respect and expect that. Advices for locals and German students: say what you have to say, but use less and simpler words for it. German is already a hard enough language to learn and understand. Cut the length of your statements. Cut their linguistic complexity. Cut to the chase. Just a little.
Tip 3: Talk less!
Conversations outside the classroom are quite different from the ones inside. Statements in the personal sphere are generally quite sober and short. Exception: humorous and ironic narratives, which are hyperbolic in nature. Advice to foreign students: talk less and do not expect to be talked to a lot. Period. Also, you should avoid using anecdotal, metaphoric language. Suggestion: talk journalistically. Go to the facts quicker and more directly then you are used to. Since the answers you are going to receive are shorter, be prepared to ask more questions. Learn to live with silences in the conversation. These are not necessarily an indication that the conversation is not going well - it is just the way it is done in Bremen. Try not to feel awkward. If you do, you can always use meaningless statements to bridge the silences. “Das ist schon unglaublich” is a good one. “Mal gucken” is not bad either.
Locals should step up their talkativeness a notch or two. Or three. Take initiative to communicate spontaneously about yourselves. Put polemically: yes/no answers will not be very stimulating for the conversation and will raise suspicion about your willingness to interact. It probably will make your partner feel uncomfortable, unwanted, uninteresting, or all three combined. Warm up quicker for a conversation. Say more and do it without taking long pauses.