Great motivational news for the start of the new year is that I have finished my German classes and can happily put the German dictionaries and work books away on a shelf to gather dust. 50 hours of classes at B2 level and I feel almost equipped to deal with Germans in real life…
Ok, so I’m not exactly fluent but certainly feeling pleased with myself. I opted this time for private lessons, twice a week and although it still used up quite a few spare evenings and Saturday mornings, it was nothing like as stressful as trying to cope with 9 hours a week of semi-intensive evening classes at the Goethe Institut.
Until now I have mainly had only group German lessons with between 5 to 12 people. Only once did I sign up for private lessons years ago when I was about A1/A2 level and it wasn’t for me. The problem with private lessons is that you actually have to pay attention and keep up a dialogue for the whole lesson (90 mins at least). This might sound doable at first but after the first couple of lessons you will run into any number of issues that make the lessons go very slowly and tediously if your German isn’t good enough. At beginners level, my German simply wasn’t good enough to sustain the conversation and small talk that keeps the classes interesting and engaging in between the tedious grammar exercises. This meant that the lesson was a real drag for both the teacher and me. And even worse, there is no possibility of a sneaky yawn, day-dreaming, avoidance of homework etc. – all benefits available in a group lesson. Not to mention the ability to surreptiously throw a guilt-free sicky last minute when you simply have no energy for a class.
This time around though, at about B2 level, I survived. In fact, I am impressed that we not only kept going at a good pace but I even improved. Private classes only made sense for me once I was at a level good enough to maintain a serious conversation on a single subject for more than a few minutes.
Credit of course goes in a large part to the teacher. I specifically requested someone who had a similar work background to me so that we could focus on business german without me boring the socks off whoever had to listen to me. I went with a new language school this time, International Language School, which teaches across Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and the Taunus. In particular, I liked the fact that they provided so much in-company tuition, which meant that they had teachers used to teaching business German and willing to provide flexible class times.
Now, with new-found confidence in German, all I have to do is find a few locals to practice on… otherwise I may end up back in a classroom by the end of the year to give myself another push!