Germany locale best
for attaining fluency
(Harrisburg, PA USA)
I realize a huge array of regional dialects exist in Germany. I am also aware there are many areas in Germany populated with mostly bilingual Germans and depending on locale (and level of patience) will quickly switch to English whenever a native English-speaker is struggling to speak German, or even just not speaking perfectly fluent German.
I speak enough German to get by, and love the language and culture. I have been casually studying German off and on since I was 13, just out of personal interest. I listen to German music almost exclusively and make an effort to understand written and spoken German for fun but have had very little opportunity to speak German or immerse myself.
Finally in 2010 I visited Germany and realized I improve quickly with full immersion, but am quickly set back if returning to thinking and/or speaking in English. I found this out by being there on my own for a week, then my husband met up with me for the remainder of the trip, and my German comfort level did a nose dive once he arrived (though I was glad to see him, but... the progress stopped from then on; plus we ended up in Bavaria a large portion of the trip, which I didn't realize until later is NOT the place to learn German).
What is the best locale in Germany for a native English-speaking American woman, travelling solo, to attain full fluency in German quickly?
My best guess is I am looking for a locale where English is not widely spoken (perhaps a former-DDR area), ideally where residents have patience with those just learning, and where I'd be immersed in a somewhat "neutral" German dialect, if there is such a thing. I need a month or so, and must do this on a tight budget (hostels, volunteer work, host family etc). Ideally I would enroll in an inexpensive but decent language-immersion program.
Can you advise on best location to do this? Any additional insights on learning German in Germany quickly?