FAQ about our German lessons
Frequently asked questions about the German language
1. What makes German a difficult language to learn?
The answer is twofold. First, there are many grammar rules to learn. From word order in German sentences, its cases (nominative, accusative, dative and genitive), numerous prepositions, adjective endings to the subjunctive - there are lots challenges that any student faces. However, most of it's rules are logical and consistent, so once you understand them in theory it just takes practice. Second, German vocabulary is far from straightforward, either. It's words are nuanced and context-specific and can rarely be translated literally from English into German and vice versa. On the other hand, many German nouns are compounds of two or more individual words, which is why our nouns tend to be so long. So when putting them together, the compound noun normally receives a very clear new meaning.
One of the most important lessons that students need to learn is how to send their ideas through a 'grammar filter' to check what they can actually say in German. While the process entails a simplification as far as the choice of words is concerned, it increases the likelihood of grammatical accuracy. Find out more about my method called 'simple but correct' here. Having said all that, many people before you managed to learn German, so why wouldn't you?
2. What advice do you have for anyone who needs to learn German quickly?
1) Get a good understanding of German syntax. If you understand where to place a word in a German sentence, you'll know how to compose a sentence properly. This is absolutely crucial to learning German fast because whether or not people understand you is in large part determined by word order .
2) Learn to conjugate verbs (i.e. regular, irregular, separable verbs and reflexive verbs) by looking at logical patterns that apply to them and make sure that subject and verb always agree. Otherwise, your interlocutors might get confused as you communicate conflicting information.
3) As soon as you understand the four cases and their function in a sentence, you'll master the difference between subject, direct and indirect object. This is crucial when dealing with German nouns. Even though nominative and accusative are the most common cases, don't underestimate the importance of dative and genitive; for they make your German sound sophisticated, provided of course you learnt how to use them correctly.
4) Once you have a good understanding of the cases, you need to turn to pronouns, prepositions and adjective endings and learn how they change the normal usage of the cases. However, it's important that you learn each of these topics steps by step and that you get enough practice with each before you move on to the next grammar topic.
5) Build your vocabulary range by using flash or index cards. These cards are highly effective and cater to visual, cognitive, haptic learners alike. As popular as apps, such as duolingo and memrise, might be at the moment, they will never be as effective as flash cards that you write yourself. Besides the meaning of each word, I also tell my students to add other information to the cards to make them even more effective. And my students usually know between 80% and 90% of all words they have learnt from me.
7) Watch, read, and listen to as much German as possible, in order to be immersed in the language.
8) Travel to a German-speaking country to practice your German.
3. How long does it normally take to become fluent in German?
This might be the toughest question to answer, as it depends on a number of factors, such as frequency and duration of lessons, talent for learning languages (it just doesn't come easy for everyone), the amount of time people are able to invest in homework and revision outside of lessons, and so on. I'm trying to give a more detailed response to this question in my blog post "how long does it take to learn German?". However, the average time it takes my students to learn German from scratch is between 12 and 18 months - with private one-to-one German lessons, once or twice a week for two hours each. You will find more information on the time frame here and on my private German lessons page. If you're keen to learn German fast but you prefer being part of a small group of fellow students, then check my new intensive German courses. The average time to advanced level (C1) with our small German classes is about 24 months, to C2 level around 32 months.
4. Are there any online resources that you would recommend?
Of course. I have put together a list of links and resources for beginner, intermediate and advanced German students which you find here.
5. Why do people learn German?
German has the reputation of being a difficult language. So when people decide to embark on this journey, they usually have a very good reason to do so. Their partner might be from a German-speaking country and they don't want to feel left out when conversations switch to German. Their child might sit an exam in German and might need some professional preparation and guidance to get top marks. Or, they need to learn German for work. According to leading UK employers, German is the most important foreign language that they want their employees to speak, so learning German can be a smart investment in your career. Business experts suggest that German language skills will be particularly important in post-Brexit Britain. Whatever the reason, a clear objective will keep you going when the language gets touch and the initial excitement wears off.
Frequently asked questions about our German lessons
1. Do I need to commit to a certain number of lessons when learning German with you?
No, when booking private one-to-one German tuition with us, the only policy I have is a 24-hour cancellation policy. Other than that, you can stop taking lessons with us whenever you want or you have achieved your goal. For the cancellation policy in our group lessons, please check our German classes page.
2. Would I be able to get a regular weekly slot or do we need to rearrange after each lesson?
Most of our students have a regular weekly slot, unless they prefer to keep their lessons more flexible or my availability is so limited that I'm not able to offer a regular slot. The latter is usually just a matter of weeks.
3. Do you teach in the evenings and on weekends? And where do you normally teach?
Yes, we offer tuition every day of the week from early in the morning to late in the evening: that is, Monday to Friday 7am to 11pm; Saturday and Sunday 9am to 10pm. The location of our lessons depends on whether they are private German lessons, small group classes, exam preparation tutorials, corporate German language training or online German lessons. Generally, our lessons are held at our students' premises, in their office or ours, in a quiet cafe in Central London or remotely by Skype or Facetime.
4. Do you offer German lessons near me or are any of your German tutors near me?
Yes, we teach all over London, though most of our clients are in zones 1 & 2. However, we also offer online German lessons so there are many options.
5. Should I opt for private or group lessons? What is the biggest difference between them?
The biggest difference between one-on-one German lessons and learning in a small group is the intensity of the teaching you receive. We all know that it's relatively easy to stay quiet in a class room setting if you don't want to contribute to the lesson. This is not possible in private lessons where the focus is on you. While this might sound scary, this is how you learn most effectively. That's why students progress more quickly through private lessons than group classes. On average, you can cut down the time it takes to become fluent in German by more than half in one-to-one tutorials when compared to a class of 10 or more students, and by more than a third compared to my smaller group classes with a maximum number of 5 participants. The ideal compromise for many of my students are my intensive German courses that allow you to learn German fast, while being less expensive than private tuition. You'll find more information on my intensive German courses here.
6. Do you work with a book or any specific material?
We usually work with a combination of our own material, tailored to our students' individual requirements, and texts and exercises from various sources. There is no such thing as the perfect text book and there is no material that suits everyone, so this strategy is usually in the best interest of our students and makes learning German challenging but also rewarding.
7. How does payment work, and what payment methods do you accept?
Our private German lessons run on a -pay-as-you-go basis where the first lesson needs to be paid in advance. From then on, we invoice you on a monthly basis. For our group classes, the first class needs to be paid in advance. After that we ask for an advance payment of five classes. We accept payments by bank transfer, PayPal, or in cash.
Frequently asked questions about our German classes
1. How many lessons does each class involve?
We don't run our classes on a term basis or for a specific number of weeks. Instead our German classes run for as long as our students like, and groups progress with us from one level to another. So join one of our classes until you have reached your goal.
2. Do I need to commit to a certain number of classes? And how much are they?
Try the first class at our normal rate of £40 for 90 minutes. If you enjoy the class and decide to continue, we ask students to firmly commit to 5 class dates at a time. Failure to attend such classes means that the full classes fee will be charged. However, one of the classes can be rescheduled free of charge within one calendar month if attendance is cancelled with more than 24 hours' notice. Otherwise, the full fee for that class will be deducted from the advance payment. You will find more information in our Terms and Conditions above.
3. What happens if I miss a class?
Unlike larger language institutes where you might no longer be able to follow the course if you miss a class or two, we are happy to see you for 'catch-up' lessons, where you revise what was covered in the lessons you missed. These revision sessions are usually one-on-one lessons with us at £70 per hour, but of course it's possible to split the cost with other students if they also missed the class. After the revision session, you should be able to follow the next group lesson with ease. Normally, two group lessons equal one private lesson.
4. Do you assign homework, and how much time to I need to spend outside of your classes on German?
Yes, we are firm believers in homework. This might sound old-school, but without regular revision of what we covered in class, your German won't improve as quickly as you might like. So you should spend another 90 minutes a week doing your homework and revising vocabulary.
5. How long does it take to progress from one level to another?
Due to the small size of our German classes, our students progress quickly. On average, they move up one level every three months, e.g. from A1.1 to A1.2. With most classes being held just once a week, that's very fast. However, if students join two or more classes a week even faster progress can be made. Check out our new super intensive German courses for more information.
6. Do I need to buy a book for my course?
It depends on the level. We usually work with a combination of our own material and texts and exercises from various sources. There is no such thing as the perfect text book and there is no material that suits everyone, so this strategy is usually best for students.
7. Is it possible to switch classes?
Your timetable might have changed and you're hoping to join a class at the same level just on a different day. No problem. Provided there is enough space in the other class, it's possible to switch. Unlike larger language schools where you automatically move from one level to another, irrespective of your actual progress, we carefully monitor our students' progress and recommend a change of class whenever that's in the interest of our students- either because they picked up the language more quickly than their classmates or because they need more time to digest what they learnt. Everyone learns in their own pace and that's how it should be.
8. Would I be able to join a class and work with you privately to accelerate my progress?
Yes, it is possible to combine group classes and one-to-one lessons. However, as you would progress more quickly than the other students in your group class, you might need to move to a higher level course when you have reached that level. Email us and we are happy to advise.
9. Do you offer any German classes near me?
Yes! Prior to the pandemic, we ran German evening classes and weekend German courses in Holborn, South Kensington, Camden, Barbican. After the pandemic, we plan to expand and add other locations all over London to our list, while continuing our online group classes for those clients who prefer to learn German online.
10. Do students get enough out of your evening German classes after a long day at work?
Our teachers are quite engaging and do their best to make our classes as fun and interactive as possible, so the feedback we usually get from clients is that they find it easier than they expected to switch off after work and concentrate on our classes. My advice would be: try one class and see for yourself.
11. Would I be able to get a certificate at the end of my German course?
While we don't produce certificates, our students perform very well when they sit exams at the Goethe-Institut and other test centres. Email us and we are happy to advise. Of course, we are happy to produce letters confirming your attendance in class and progress reports.
12. What payment methods do you accept?
You can pay us by bank transfer, PayPal, or in cash. The payment for the first class needs to be made in advance. If you're then happy to continue, we require an advance payment of five classes as deposit.
13. My company pays for my German classes. Do you produce invoices?
Yes, of course. Just let us know that you need an invoice and we are happy to email it to you.
14. Should I wait for in-person classes or are your online German classes just as effective?
In response to COVID-19, we moved all our German classes to Zoom in mid-March to protect the safety of our clients. While some clients may have initially had their doubts about the effectiveness of remote language classes, student feedback has been almost unanimously positive, so much so that most of our clients say they prefer to have the classes from the comfort of their own home. However, of course we plan to offer in-person lessons again when it is safe to do so.