German Classes In Berlin – A Practitioner’s Guide To Finding High Quality Lessons
German classes in Berlin are in high demand. There are around 11 million expats residing in Germany, and if you are one of them, you know that the arena of international job positions is like the Collosseum in Ancient Rome: No one survives it in the long run.
Yes, most expats decide to learn German sooner or later. However, that’s where the trouble starts. As a beginner, you have no way of knowing what makes a good German course. All you have is promises everywhere.
But worry not, my friend! As a German teacher with seven years of experience and a master’s degree in pedagogy, I can confidently tell you what red flags you should look out for and which qualities make a good German course.
First, let’s get the red flags out of the way.
Red flag #1: They promise great quality at a low price
There is a flood of German classes in Berlin that promise you the world at lower and lower prices. A lot of the big name language schools “employ” freelance teachers who often do teaching as a side hustle to finance their lives as university students. Depending on the personality and natural gift your teacher has, you may get a great or a horrible deal. You never know in advance.
Worse still: Cheaper schools are highly interested in letting students progress to the next level as they don’t want to miss out on course fees. That’s why you’ll often encounter classmates that cannot keep up and force the teacher to go much slower than intended. This is not the students‘ fault at all, they simply followed the school’s guidance and were happy to pass.
Red flag #2: The course group is larger than 5 people
It may seem like a sensible thing to learn a language in a bigger group: You make new friends and have a lot of opportunities to talk to interesting strangers. However, the reality of big groups is that you will not have the spotlight on you most of the time. During conversational sections of the class, the teacher cannot listen in on most of what’s being said, so these conversations will not have a noticable learning effect. The exercise portions will be even less effective, as you’ll mostly listen to other people’s solutions to a task.
Red flag #3: They promise to get you fluent within weeks or just a few months
While it is possible for a teacher to help you understand the theory behind a language more quickly, there is a limit to the speed at which you can hone your practical skills. Speaking a language, just like any other skill, requires a lot of practical use to build muscle memory. The focus of a good German course should be to motivate you and make you curious. It should intrigue you to see the German language as a new lense through which you can see the world. And it should help you wear this new lense with more and more joy and confidence outside in the real world.
Red flag #4: Video courses that promise to replace actual German classes
Don’t get me wrong. There are many good on-demand language courses out there. Understanding the theory behind any language is very important. However, there is no way to get any practical skills using those courses, and therefore, they can only complement actual German classes with a competent teacher. Anyone trying to tell you otherwise is just interested in your money, not your progress.
Once you find a course that offers none of the red flags and looks interesting to you, you should inquire whether or not the following qualities are part of the curriculum.
Good teaching should be …
1. Honest and supportive: The school/teacher helps you set realistic goals and achieve them
2. Constructive: The teacher corrects your mistakes in a gentle and empathic way
3. Student-focused: There is enough time for you to be in the spotlight
4. Transparent: You always know where you’re at in terms of your progress