Here are some valuable talking tips that will get you through the German academic everyday. Although this was generally written for international students, locals will also benefit greatly from it. Because, if we may, talking to and with each other is not just a matter of foreign students adjusting to Germany, but a mutual process of critical self-awareness and adaption. Consider it a service in reciprocal integration. Anyway, here's tip 1: Talk!
The bad news: non-verbal communication will not work very well or be particularly effective. Less of it is better. If something has to be said, it will actually have to be done out loud. In a very clear and very accurate manner. Tip to newcomers: various body signals – such as lifting your eyebrows, dropping you shoulders, lively hand gestures, sighing, looking desperate – will not help you.
On the contrary, they might suggest a lack of verbal control and subtlety. Direct statements, however, will do the trick plenty. Locals: move your bodies if you talk to foreign students! If you are excited, do not only move your mouths, but show it. Professors: monitor the non-verbal reactions of your foreign students. If nothing is said, this does not mean that all is understood and agreed with. If misunderstandings occur, it should not be a given that newcomers “should have said something”.
The good news: the range of “vocal elements” used – speed of speech, intonation, pauses, livelihood, those kind of things – is reasonable and limited. Verbal communication thus becomes quite straightforward, doable and readable. Rule of thumb: less intonation, less variation in speed, and less highs and lows in the pitch of your voice are all good.
In the same vein: try not to be disturbed by others’ tones. Tones might sound arrogant and rude at first sight, but are not meant in such a way. Do not take tone personally! Tip for foreign students: try out your own German vocal voice as soon as possible, but do not exaggerate and do not test it on your own family.
Tip for locals: use the full range of your vocal possibilities. Go up and down with your voice. Newcomers will find it easier to read and listen to you if you do these things. But do not exaggerate your willingness to adjust to non-locals. You should neither speak louder if you are talking to a foreign student, nor pronunciate excessively.