If you want to improve your spoken German and/or your comprehension, there is nothing better than practicing in an informal setting like a Stammtisch.
It’s not uncommon for Americans to study a language while in high school or a couple years of college and only recall a few key phrases and terms later in life. Even if you once considered yourself fluent or proficient in the past, regular use of another language can help your brain retain grammar and vocabulary that can come in handy later in life.
A “Stammtisch” is a great way to maintain and improve your ability to communicate in German. Stammtisch originally referred to a table at a local restaurant or tavern that was reserved for the local dignitaries. It allowed for political discussions, socializing, and card playing. In the United States the term has come to mean a table where German speakers could gather and practice/stay fresh in spoken German. They rarely involve formal presentations or debates. Conversations evolve naturally and could cover a wide range of topics. Many American Stammtisch are frequently hosted by German-themed restaurants and beer gardens. A little beer can help first-time attendees loosen up and join the conversation.
Attendees can vary from someone with a basic understanding of the language who wants to improve their pronunciation to a native speaker looking forward to hearing and speaking their native tongue. A participant may be planning a business trip to the Frankfurt Messe and wants to brush up on some basic business terms and practices. Another participant may want to talk about German politics. A Stammtisch might even offer the chance to discuss the films of Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Attendees are not expected to be experts on every topic. The open format of a Stammtisch allows everyone to contribute, speak up, and ask questions.
Because Milwaukee is home to so many people of German ancestry and a sizable number of German-owned firms, multiple locations around the metropolitan area host a Stammtisch. Additional ones may be coordinated by college language clubs. They all operate independently.
Here is a list of Stammtisch groups. If we missed your group, alert the Hessen-Wisconsin Society, and we’ll be sure to include you.
Stammtisch Milwaukee Eastside Winter (November - May) First Tuesday of the month, 7:00 pm Hosts: Lisa Honey, Sabine Schwark, Petra Teurich Von Trier 2235 N. Farwell Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53203 www.vontriers.com Stammtisch Milwaukee Eastside Summer (June - October, weather permitting) First Tuesday of the month, 6:00-8:00 pm Hosts: Lisa Honey, Sabine Schwark, Petra Teurich Estabrook Park Biergarten, Milwaukee County Park 4610 Estabrook Parkway Milwaukee, WI. 53217 www.oldgermanbeerhall.com or www.estabrookbeergarten.com
Stammtisch Kenosha/Racine Summer (May - September, weather permitting) Every Wednesday, 5:00-7:00 pm Host: Anita Banulis Petrifying Springs Biergarten 7th St. Kenosha, WI 53144 www.petsbiergarten.com
Stammtisch West Allis Third Saturday of the month, 6:00 - 9:00 pm Host: Patrick Matthews Kegel’s Inn 5901 W. National Ave. West Allis, WI 53214 www.kegelsinn.com
Stammtisch Germantown Second Wednesday of the month 5:00 pm - flexible Host Eveline Kehlert Von Rothenburg Bierstube N116 W15863 Main St. Germantown, WI 532022
Stammtisch Milwaukee Lake Country Fourth Monday of the month, 5:30 - 7:30 pm Seeking hosts
German Club at UW-Madison
German Club is open to University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduates, graduate students, faculty members, community members, and alumni interested in German, Swiss or Austrian culture. No membership fees or minimum participation required.
In the past, weekly or bi-monthly German Stammtisch meetings were held at Der Stiftskeller in Memorial Union. To learn about future events, contact Melissa Sheedy (608) 558-0940 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Madison German Language Meetup Group is flexible with its meeting dates and locations. Info on upcoming events can be found at: