Here I answer these frequently asked questions:
- Do I need a Tutor?
- Wouldn’t it be better to attend normal language courses?
- Is the German Tutor actually German?
- How long will it take to learn German?
- How much will it cost me?
- Where and how will we meet?
1. Do I need a Tutor?
Is a Tutor the wiser choice for everybody? My answer is: No.
For some people a standard language course could still be the best choice. Let’s find out if this is the case.
A tutor is the right option for you if at least three of the following points are true:
- you already live in a German speaking country;
- you already took some classes, but you found them boring, slow, superficial or inefficient;
- you already speak another foreign language;
- you don’t have time to waste and want to learn efficiently in your spare time;
- you already learned some German, but you got stuck at some point;
- you would like to learn more autonomously;
- you already speak German but you want to develop specific registers and skills (for example for work or study purposes).
If you are in doubt: Just give it a try! The first hour is free of charge.
2. What about language classes?
In my humble experience, language classes are mostly inefficient (with some lucky exceptions). They usually have a standardized approach to learning and therefore neglect the specificity of the individual student. They have a “schoolish” point of view and forget about the learning experience outside the classroom. They usually don’t focus on motivation and their main goal is to prepare for the “next exam”.
There are exceptions, but the smarter and more motivated you are, the more boring, dispersive, slow and inefficient a normal language class will be for you, which means: a waste of time and money.
If you are already attending a class or will do it in anyway, just know that you can always meet a tutor on a weekly or monthly basis to improve the quality of your learning.
3. Is the German Tutor German?
No, I am not 🙂
I was born in Italy and learned German as a foreign language (my fourth one), exactly as you are also going to do.
Wouldn’t a native speaker be a better tutor? I actually think that the opposite is true.
Have you already tried to explain the grammar of your mother tongue to a foreigner? If you did, you discovered that being a native speaker doesn’t qualify you as a teacher. At all.
Now go a step further: Do you even remember learning your mother tongue? No, of course you don’t. Actually, a native speaker lacks the most simple requisite for being a good tutor: He never learned the language as an adult. In our case: A German has absolutely no experience in what you are going through – namely, learning German as an adult.
A native speaker is an expert in speaking it, but neither in learning, nor in teaching or counseling it.
Of course, at a certain point you will profit from training with native speakers and that’s why I collaborate with German native speakers specialized in language learning. You, too, will start training with them when the time comes (usually after some months of basic training).
4. How long will it take to learn German?
This question is hard to answer for at least two reasons: 1) Every learning path is different due to personal and environmental factors; 2) There is no “point of arrival” in learning a language: If you start learning a language as an adult you will continue the progress throughout your entire life, as long as you keep practicing it.
On the other hand, we can forecast how long it will take for an average student to reach certain goals like, for example, listening skills, vocabulary, speaking skills, etc.
Frameworks of reference for foreign languages try to set standards for the evaluation of linguistic goals. You probably already know the CEFR, working with the levels A1/2, B1/2, C1/2.
I personally don’t like those kind of frameworks because they are based on the assumption that language skills develop at the same pace. And this is not the case.
It is normal and physiological for a student, if not forced to progress otherwise, to develop comprehension skills first and to strengthen them during months before he begins to speak himself.
To force students to talk and write before they are familiar with the foreign language is a common mistake most teachers make. But it can be an expensive one.
If you don’t force yourself to talk and write, then it will come to you spontaneously to express yourself in German once you “digested” what you have learned. Your speech will then be of better quality and will cost you much less effort (both cognitive and emotional). In practice this means that average students learning at a medium pace will start having simple conversations within 3 to 6 months. (With “conversation” I mean a real exchange of information, not some typical textbook play like: “Nice to meet you, what’s your name?”.)
Before that point, there is a lot of progress to be made in listening and reading. Your goal for the first months will be to become capable of deciphering German written language and to recognize sounds, words and sentences when you hear spoken German. This is why we will start training your ear from the very beginning.
From a “grammatical” point of view, my method gives you the tools you need to orientate yourself in the jungle of German language from the very beginning . I don’t want you to “study” grammar rules. Rather you should understand and learn how to use them in order to decipher the functioning of German language. Your mind will learn those rules through practice, not by studying.
If you are planning a “language exam” though, then you can expect a B2 level in 6 months and a C2 in 12/18 months (if you are an average learner and invest some 20 hours a week).
5. How much will it cost me?
A language tutor is the most economic option, in my opinion. (And that’s why I started doing it!)
Three main reasons:
1) It’s time-efficient. I help you plan your training for the week, answer your questions and assist you in finding new learning material. Two hours with me will give you enough to practice a whole week. This means that even if the price per hour is higher than a class course, the number of hours per week will be way lower!
2) It’s personalized. The tutor walks at your speed and doesn’t have a class or a program to follow. This means: no waste! In class courses you waste a lot of time because the teacher is going either too slow, or too fast. I will focus only and exclusively on your learning experience and will adapt to your learning pace.
3) It’s an investment. My main goal isn’t to explain German grammar to you. Otherwise I wouldn’t be any better than a book or youtube video. My main goal is to make you capable of learning German. You will be taught approaches and methods to language learning, you will become familiar with the German language, which will make you capable in the future of both: improving your German without my help and eventually learning further foreign languages on your own.
You can find more information about the costs here.
6. Where and how will we meet?
I am based in Berlin and occasionally move around Europe, but… don’t worry, we can can meet everywhere! i.e.: online!
I give most of my lessons and meet most of my students online, on Skype, Hangout or Viber.
Never met a tutor online? Why don’t you try it? The first hour is for free.
I teach in English, Italian, Spanish, French and, of course, German.