Come to Germany!

Reading Institute provides an integrated course schedule of learning through exploration, scrutiny, and self-reflection. Our classes combine hands-on experience with knowledge-based teaching. Take a look at our offerings and contact Reading Institute to learn more, or download and submit your completed Application for Germany.


German Language Course

Discover language, culture and life in Germany

Are you a student? Come to Germany and earn 12 credit hours by learning the language, culture and history within a 3-month trip. Depending on your previous experience, you can choose either an introduction or an advanced language course. Both courses will go together to visit several hotspots in and around Germany on English guided tours. If you and your friends are on different language levels, you can still come and enjoy Germany together!

Be aware: You will never sit in an impersonal lecture hall by yourself. We’ll take care of you and your individual needs. Our goal is that you have a great time with your studies in Germany!

 Semester of 12 credit hours includes the following courses:

  • Introduction to the German Language with Practicum OR Advanced German Language with Practicum, earning 6 credit hours
  • Culture and History of the Central States of Germany with Practicum, earning 6 credit hours

Cost of € 11,900 includes:

  • Tuition for the above courses in Altenberg, Germany
  • Airfare to and from Germany
  • Transportation to and from the Newark and Dresden airports
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Guided educational trips to the historical and cultural cities of Dresden, Leipzig, Eisenach, Weimar, Wittenberg, Berlin, Prague, and Vienna

What about time schedule?

  • We offer two semesters per year (non-overlapping)
  • A semester lasts 12 weeks
  • The exact starting time can be arranged with you and the other students, depending on your semester schedule
  • Application closing date is 6 months before the start of the semester


What will be waiting for me? 

We’re going to Altenberg!

Altenberg is a town in eastern Germany, famous for its winter sports and tourism (A typical saying in the region: We live where others go on holiday). It’s located in the Erzgebirge, a nice low mountain range up to 4000 ft, well-known around the world for its special popular art. You will live in an apartment with other students taking the language course.

From there we will go on local trips around the area, to Dresden, and other places in Saxony. We will also stay overnight in Berlin, Leipzig, Prague and Vienna.

The college courses will take place in the classroom of the modern church of Altenberg. Your teacher is a local bilingual native German speaker.

What will I experience?

Our Tour Offerings

Listed below are all the tours we offer. Please keep in mind that not all the tours can be done in every semester – for example the typical German Christmas markets are only available in December. Furthermore some tours are dependent on the weather.

Tours in the region of Altenberg

in alphabetical order

Christmas Markets

The second name of the Erzgebirge is Land of Christmas. Celebrating the Christmas season with Christmas markets and parades is an important tradition in this region. As early as the Middle Ages, Christmas markets were held to supply the people with food and stores for the cold winter period. Very soon afterwards toy manufacturers, basket-makers and confectioners sold their products as presents for children and adults. In December you can find these Christmas markets in nearly every town.

Availability: End of November – December 23rd (dependent on the weather)

Website Striezelmarkt Dresden
(in German; for example, there are many Christmas markets in the area)

© Kaufleute Aktiv, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Holy Trinity Church, Schmiedeberg & George Bähr

The Frauenkirche in Dresden is a world renown church. Generally unknown is that George Bähr, the architect of the Frauenkirche, was born in a village near Altenberg. He designed a church in Schmiedeberg to test his unique architectural concept.

In this tour we will visit the “mini” Frauenkirche designed by George Bähr and learn more about his contributions to the region, to Dresden and to the world.

Availability: all year round

© Studio S Sven Hönicke. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Erzgebirgian Folk Art

There were long periods of time when the miners could not work underground. Discover how many miners became toy makers!

Additionally, they created and manufactured wooden figures and symbols by combining mining, Christianity and candlelight. Today these carvings and figurines are decorations for all seasons, including the beloved Christmas decorations of smoker men (Räuchermännchen), Christmas pyramids and candle arches.

Availability: all year round, recommended in wintertime

Click here for example or here

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Forestry Tour

The history of the Erzgebirge is centered around mining. In the mines, wood was used not only in construction and support of the tunnels, but also burned to heat the rock to help remove the ore. As forests were being cleared and wood became less easily available, the industry of mining was threatened. The practice of forestry, one of the first in the world, was developed to manage this sustainable resource.

In this tour we will be guided by a forester who will show and describe current forestry practices that impact the woodland environment and help us understand the forest.

Availability: May – October (dependent on the weather)

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Geising Tour

Geising is one of the most beautiful towns in the Erzgebirge. Since it was not damaged by fire, the architecture and residental settlement remain unchanged since of the 16th century – giving Geising an old-world feel adding to the charm and appeal of this cozy town. Johann Schelle and Johann Kuhnau, two choirmasters of the famous St. Thomas Boys Choir in Leipzig were born in Geising.

Availability: all year round (dependent on the weather), recommended May – October

Website of Geising (in German)

© Matthias. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Glashütte Watch Museum

Have you seen those elegant watches with tiny mechanisms, five-digit price tags, and only available in luxury stores? For 175 years fine watches were handmade in Glashütte, a small town nestled in a valley near Altenberg.

We will visit the Glashütte Watch Museum, taking in an overview of the history of watchmaking along with the present and future of local manufacturers producing high quality watches belonging to the most exclusive collections all over the world.

Availability: all year round

Website Watch Museum Glashütte

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Herb Tour

The people living in the Erzgebirge were mostly poor miners. It was the women who learned the effectiveness of herbs for cooking and against ailments such as headaches, colds, and circulation problems, and either grew them in their gardens or collected them in the fields and forests.

Although the knowlegde of medicinal herbs is mostly lost, some people can be seen collecting herbs for good health. We will go on tour through the fields and forests learning about useful herbs and those to avoid from a local knowledgeable tour guide.

Availability: all year round (dependent on the weather), recommended May – October

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Lauenstein Tour (Castle and Church)

Lauenstein, founded in the 12th century, is another beautiful old town which lies within the region of Altenberg. It was the administrative center of the mining industry. In 1594 a fire destroyed the whole city, castle and church. The Prince at the time had a deep faith in God and enough resources to rebuild the castle and church creating unique art out of sandstone in the Renaissance and Mannerism style.  

Availability: all year round

Website Schloss Lauenstein
Lauenstein Church (in German)

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Mining Museum Altenberg

“Here there is no mountain without a tunnel in it!” The Erzgebirge, literally “ore mountains”, were settled for the purpose of mining. Depending on the conditions of the rock and on the element to be extracted there are widely different methods of mining within a relatively small area. In this Museum you can discover the 600 year history of mining and processing tin in Altenberg, both underground and above ground.

Availability: all year round

Website Mining Museum Altenberg (will be renewed soon)

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Mushroom Tour

Collecting mushrooms has been a longstanding tradition in the Erzgebirge and continues today with people and families going into the woods searching for Chanterelle, Champignon, Steinpilz and Honey Agaric. The mushrooms become a delicious dinner or a nice gift.

The knowledge to distinguish edible and harmful mushrooms passes from generation to generation. We will take a tour through the forest with an experienced guide, participating in the tradition of mushroom picking. 

Availability: August – October

© H. Krisp, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Pinge Tour Altenberg

Literally translated, the name of the city of Altenberg is “the old mountain”For many years the mountain was mined without responsible management. In 1620 the mountain collapsed, leaving a large crater. Although the mining has stopped, the Pinge is closely monitored because it continues to grow gradually each year.

A guided tour will explain the history and details of the Pinge, offering a unique view of the platform at the edge of the crater.

Availability: May – October

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Paul Haucke, Max Nacke & Anton Günther

Paul Haucke and Anton Günther were popular local poets, songwriters and folksingers from the Erzgebirge. As tourism expanded into the Erzgebirge they became famous. Their feelings for homeland, nature and everyday life were shared through poetry and song in the Erzgebirge dialect. Günther was the inventor of the song postcard, popularized in the late 1800’s.

Availability: all year round

Hear a song by Anton Günther from 1899: De Uf‘nbank (The bench around the stove; Erzgebirge dialect)

© Collection René Röder, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Saw Mill Museum, Herklotzmühle

Wood was always a necessary raw material for the people in the Erzgebirge as heating fuel and building material. Last but not least mining was unimaginable without wood. Many saw mills existed for long time periods, driven by water power.

At the Herklotzmühle you can experience how semi-automatic engineering worked in times past.

Availability: May – October

Website Herklotzmühle (in German)

© Urlaubsregion Altenberg, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Schellerhau Botanical Garden

This garden has more than 1,400 different plant species of the Erzgebirge and the middle and high mountains of Europe, North America and Asia. A local guide will accompany us in this idyllic area.

Availability: May – October (dependent on the weather)

Website Botanical Garden Schellerhau (in German)

© Urlaubsregion Altenberg, Botanischer Garten. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Wildpark Osterzgebirge

Situated near Altenberg is a small wildlife park, a favorite local attraction. There are deer, wild boar, and a petting zoo among other things. It is a pleasant walk while learning about fauna in the region.

Availability: all year round (dependent on the weather), recommended May – October

Website Wildpark Osterzgebirge (in German)

© Studio S. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Zinnwald Tour

Each mine is different. This is also true of Zinnwald, literally „tin forest“, a mining village located atop a ridge on the eastern border of Germany and the Czech Republic.

Underground is a network of mining tunnels more than 125 miles long. On a 1.6 mile tour we will be guided through small tunnels and large caves. A few caves are larger than some churches in the region.

Aboveground Zinnwald is a place of historical significance where conflicts not only between Catholics and Protestants took place, but also between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

Availability: all year round

Website Besucherbergwerk Zinnwald (in German; will be renewed soon)

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

City Tours national and international

in alphabetical order

Berlin Tour

Berlin – symbol of a people, symbol of politics and capital of the German Imperial Empire, the Nazis, the German Democratic Republic and the reunified Germany.

What do German people fear the most? – That other people say they act German. But why is this true? What has this to do with Berlin, a city of paradoxes? We will stay overnight.

Availability: all year long

Website Wall Museum (Checkpoint Charlie)
Brandenburg Gate

Concentration Camps

This is a very important part of Germany and its history. How were people able to do this? What was the attitude of the Germans about the Concentration Camps? What can people learn from the darkest chapter of German history?

Concentration Camps could be part of other city tours like Weimar.

Availability: all year long

Website Auschwitz
Website Buchenwald
Website Terezin

© US gov, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign. © Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-78612-0003, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Dresden Tour

With all its trees and meadows Dresden is one of the greenest cities in Germany. Not only in the past was it a wonderful place. Despite being destroyed in the second world war and sacrificed by idealistic architecture plans of the communists, the Saxons held Dresden close to their hearts. They kept and revived the vibe, architecture and beauty of their beloved capital city. Significant are many buildings like the Dresden Frauenkirche, the Dresden Zwinger, the Fürstenzug, all of which are evidences of the baroque wealth under August dem Starken.

Availability: all year long

Website Dresden Zwinger
Website Frauenkirche

Eisenach Tour

The most impressive sight in Eisenach is the Wartburg, a castle build in 1067. In this castle the reformer Martin Luther translated the Bible from Latin to the German language. Quite nearby we can walk in the traces of another leading person, the composer and choirmaster of St. Thomas Boys Choir Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born in Eisenach.

Availability: all year long

Website Wartburg Castle
Bachhaus Eisenach

Leipzig Tour

St. Thomas Boys Choir, Johann Sebastian Bach, Auerbachs Keller, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Leipzig is full of internationally famous people, places and institutions. The good thing is: All these must-sees are close together. Nevertheless we will stay overnight while visiting this special city – the “second capital” of Saxony.

Availability: all year long

Website Bach Museum
Website Auerbachs Keller
Website Thomaskirche (in German)
Website Nikolaikirche

© LeipzigTravel, public domain.

Prague Tour

Get out of Germany, go to a unique city formed by art nouveau, including the famous old city, a Jewish quarter, the Jan Huss memorial, author Franz Kafka … and giving us many possibilities to enjoy the local cuisine. Above them all, sitting enthroned, is the Prague Castle – the world’s biggest castle area. We will stay overnight in Prague.

Availability: all year long

Website Prague Castle

© Moyan Brenn, public domain.

Sorbs, Bautzen & Spreewald

The Sorbs are a Slavic minority living in east Saxony and Brandenburg. They are Germans, but only on passport: They have their own language, culture and different dealings with each other. For them, the community and the integration of people in this community is much more important than common.

Bautzen as an old city, founded in the year 1002, is famous for its binationality and its special silhouette with numerous steeples in it.

In the north east of Bautzen is the Spreewald. Like in Venice, there is a large network of small natural water canals which were the main infrastructure in the region. Now with the use of canoes the canals are used by the postal service and for transportation of agricultural products (as the special Spreewald cucumber).

If you are interested a kayak tour and overnight stay in this unique environment can be arranged.

Availability: all year long (kayak tours recommended April – October)

Website City of Bautzen (tourism)
Website Spreewald and Sorbs

© Johann Carl August Richter, public domain. © Peter Becker.

Vienna Tour

Vienna: Imperial elegance of a former monarchy with all its wealth, magnificence, duty and responsibility. In the Vienna Hofburg, a buildung complex with 18 wings and 19 courts all the splendor comes alive again.

Not royal but also imperial are the Cafés of Vienna, for example the famous Café Sacher. The 16 year-old Franz Sacher invented the Sachertorte in 1816 – a rich chocolate gateau, a culinary peak of chocolate indulgence of Vienna which we can enjoy in our tour.

Availability: all year long

Website Vienna Hofburg
Website Café Sacher

© Bwag, public domain.

Weimar Tour

The reformer Martin Luther, the influential German thinkers Goethe and Schiller, the Buchenwald concentration camp, Bauhaus architecture style – all these converge in the Thüringian city of Weimar. Discover this middle-sized city of 65,000 inhabitants as well as its cultural assets mostly from the time of Weimar Classicism.

Availability: all year long

Website City of Weimar

© NoRud, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Wittenberg Tour

Luther City, Wittenberg: Martin Luther delivered his 95 theses and here the painter Lucas Cranach the Elder as well as reformer Philipp Melanchthon were paid princely salaries to stay in Wittenberg. Despite being small and insignificant, with enough money and the German saying Where there is a will, there is a way, the town managed to get and keep their artists – and became famous, in spite of remaining a small town.

Availability: all year long

Website Lutherstadt Wittenberg

© M-H.DE, public domain. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Further Activities

In alphabetical order. These activities are not part of the courses and will have additional costs.

Bike Tours

Do you like biking? We do, too! At least some of us at the Reading Institute :). There are locals looking forward to having a great mountain bike ride with you, enjoying the region on easy or technical trails. If you want to combine biking with local cuisine, go and try the Knoblauchkuppe (Garlic Mountain Hut) for example.

Availability: May – October (dependent on the weather)

Bikezeit Altenberg (in German, for renting bikes)

© Frischluft Sachsen. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Bobsled Run Tour / Ice Tubing

Have you ever seen the world championships for bobsled or other sports in the ice track? Altenberg is not only famous for its biathletes but also for having one of the most demanding ice channels in the world. It’s not only for competitive sportsmen! It’s for anyone who wants to experiencing the formula one of the winter sports in a 4-men bobsled. Or do you like ice tubing? Check out the video in the link below.

Availability: all year round (yes, there’s a summer bob with wheels)

Further Information (in German)

© Thomas Eisenhuth, dpa. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.

Horse Riding Tour

“We have small horses for small people. We have strong horses for strong people. We have slim horses for slim people. And for those who have never ridden before, we have horses that no one has ever ridden.” 🙂

Let yourself be carried through a peaceful, beautiful environment with a local experienced guide. The tours are especially suitable for inexperienced riders.

Website Die Kammreiter (in German)

Availability: April – November (dependent on the weather)

© by FÜRSTdesign Sebastian Kaulfürst

Monster Cart / Monster Roller Run

Ride down a ski run on a (non-motorized) trike or by a fat tire roller. The lift brings you to the top of the mountain in 4 – 5 minutes, but you decide how long the downhill takes!

It is close to your apartment and absolutely worth the fun!

Availability: May – October (dependent on the weather)

Website Monstercarts Altenberg (in German)

Skiing, Snowboarding & Sledding

Altenberg is the sledding-capital of Germany. Right across the street from where you will be living is a ski slope and sledding area. There are also nightrides!

Furthermore you can go cross-country skiing and enjoy the beautiful, silent nature in wintertime. The ski area around Altenberg is well signposted so you can go by yourself, or if you want, a local will accompany you.

As we are located in a low mountain range we are not in an alpine downhill environment. However, it is a good place to learn downhill skiing.

Availability: December – March (dependent on the weather)

Website Ski Lift Altenberg / Geising (in German)

Summer Sled Run

Have you ever ridden a summer toboggan? The possibility is only 600 ft away from your apartment. An inexpensive fun way to enjoy on a hot day or after finishing the language lessons.

Availability: May – October (dependent on the weather)

Website Sommer Tobbogan Run Altenberg (in German)

© Ski- & Rodelarena Altenberg/Geising. Edited by FÜRSTdesign.


In the region of Altenberg are two nice natural lakes and a health facility that is open to the public, which has an indoor bathing area with heated outdoor pool.

Availability: all year long (inside); May – October (outside, dependent on the weather)

Website Natural Pool Galgenteich (in German)
Website Natural Pool Hüttenteich Geising (in German)
Website Health Center Raupennest (in German)
Website Water Park Paulsdorf (in German)

© Geising.