If you are looking for a German tutor online or in the neighbourhood, you might want to take a step back first and think this through before you invest several hundreds if not thousands of Euro into such a venture.
Private German lessons are looked for like crazy it seems. Google just spit out 447.000.000 search results when I entered that search term. As a former private German tutor that charged up to 180 USD per lesson (that’s 45mins), I have a few things to say about the effectiveness of working with a German language tutor. Do I have your attention? Then off we go…
Why hire a private tutor
Over the years I’ve come across many students that had worked with private tutors. Here a few “good” reasons I found why they hired one.
A private tutor…
- is the best way to learn German and therefore enables one to learn German faster
- holds one accountable so that one does one’s homework
- structures and adjusts the lesson to my needs
- corrects my mistakes
- allows me to speak more and therefore I learn to speak German faster
There might be more reasons but they are very likely easily sorted under any of the five reasons to work with a German private tutor above. All of these reasons are “good” reasons of course but that doesn’t mean that taking 1:1 German lessons is the best approach to learning German fast.
Why not hire a private tutor
Before I’ll analyse the above reasons thoroughly, let’s take a look at the downsides of working with a private German teacher. People offering individual German lessons…
- are costly: They cost $10 – $80 per 45mins and you’ll need at least 200 lessons (if you are fast) to get from A1-B1.
- are not always professionals. There’s a reason why people study teaching (also known as “didactics”).
- are not always good, even though they might be professionals.
- are not always likeable. It takes time to find the one.
- rarely teach you HOW to learn so that you can become independent of their teaching.
- have limited availability and energy
- might not speak English well enough to explain complex matters in a clear manner
The downsides speak for themselves I hope, so allow me to focus on the five “good” reasons to work with a tutor which actually are questionable at best. Here’s why:
“Good” is not always good
1:1 lessons are the best and most efficient way to learn German
That definitely CAN be the case but that depends on many factors (see the list of downsides). It takes time to find the right one that you can trust and that’s competent enough for you to follow her lead and that’s affordable. Yes, German language courses at Volkshochschule (VHS) also cost you 1200 EUR for A1-B1 but that’s still a much lower house number than the minimum of 2000 EUR that a private tutor will likely cost you. Unfortunately you don’t really know beforehand whether you actually learn better with the German tutor of your choice than with other means like for example with my self learner courses. Hey, it’s my blog, of course I’ll promote my own work. 😉
2. A tutor holds you accountable
Many private language tutors actually work very hard for their money (which doesn’t automatically mean that they are doing a good job) but that means they depend on every lesson they can sell. Especially when they charge a low amount for their work. From 40 USD onwards I’d say a tutor can live an acceptably comfortable life for a few years. They have to pay taxes and insurances, illness, a family?, plan for retirement and the occasionally broken washing machine or car. Keep in mind that 90% of private language tutors out there are self employed. As sexy as that might sound, I can tell you plenty of reasons why it isn’t something everyone should aim for.
So what that means is that when you don’t do your homework and just try to wing yourself from lesson to lesson the tutor will feel that rather sooner or later and if she was a professional and independent, would tell you that taking lessons with her is a waste of your money and her time. But as she likely isn’t independent, she won’t tell you that and just go along with with your avoidance strategy. I know that because initially I did the same. Only when I became financially more independent, I told students to look for someone else and of course shared why I think they wasted their money and time with such an approach.
3. Structures and adjusts lessons to my needs
I’ve met and heard of very few private language tutors that actually prepared well. Also the cheaper their lessons were, the less creative and adaptive they were. And that makes perfect sense because if I have to work for 10 USD per hour, I’d have to work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week to get to 3045 USD per month, before tax and expenses that is. The average income in the US is roughly 5000 USD per month. Even in Bali they make 900 USD per month on average. That doesn’t allow for much wiggle space as you might easily imagine.
More expensive German tutors might be a better solution here as often more expensive can also mean more experienced and more skilled. But that might also tripple your expenses (6000 USD for A1-B1).
4. Corrects my mistakes
Well, correcting others is a delicate task. 99% of us have learned in school that corrections mean marking mistakes red and punishing us for it by giving us a bad grade. It can easily trigger our unresolved issues with authority and bring relationships to their edge. Here’s how corrections should be done. Unfortunately, far too many German tutors still correct the way they have experienced in school. If that’s the case with your tutor, please show her the video above. You’ll benefit greatly from it and so will she.
5. Allows me to speak more
Sure. You will have more opportunity to speak to your German teacher if you work one on one with her but that doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll learn faster. Speaking practice news to be well prepared especially when you are a beginner. An unprepared conversation will not only be inefficient but also bears the risk of overwhelming you. The tutor will have to correct you again and again until it becomes too frustrating for the both of you. It also requires a lot of patience from both of you and a high frustration tolerance from your side because you won’t be able to say much and that’s a strain.
If you are already on B2 level, that’s of course a lot easier but even then thorough preparation and a clearly structured approach are a must to save precious time and therefore a lot of money.
So how to study German then without having to sell my Kidneys?
If it isn’t obvious by now as you are on a blog called SmarterGerman which is a platform selling online German courses from level A1 to C1 and much more, here’s what I suggest:
Work with my courses. Try the first lesson. If that’s not enough, purchase the course of your choice and work through it for another 30 days. If that doesn’t convince you, ask for a refund (within those 30 days please. After that it isn’t possible to refund you anything anymore). No risk at all.
What’s the advantage of our courses?
Our courses eliminate all (!) of the downsides you have read about in this article and they cost a fraction of what you’d pay in even the cheapest language schools worldwide. Okay, if you are in a state subsidised course I can’t compete with that but those also cost money. An integration course in Germany costs the tax payers (that also includes you ironically as you pay taxes for every purchase you make) over 2000 EUR for A1-B1 in a group. Ask the BAMF if you don’t believe me. So even if you don’t pay for your course, someone else has to do that and they also work hard for their money.
If you get the Magnificent German Bundle you get access to all our 5 language courses leading from A1 to C1. Only pay as much as you can afford. If you want to know more about this pricing options visit our SmarterGerman page here. We want to make German available to all who want to learn German with a premium product but can’t afford a premium price. You get to choose what price you pay based on what you can afford without any limitations in time and you study German at your own speed and wherever and whenever you want. And you have Spitzensupport from me and my team. It feels like having a private tutor even though you don’t have one is what one student once wrote beautifully. What a compliment to my work.
But Duolingo and DW-Learn German are free. Why should I pay for your course. As I wrote above: you might not pay for those platforms, but others do. When do you want to take responsibility for your own life and start giving instead of taking? If you are not in the position to do so yet, that’s fine. That’s exactly why these platforms are there. But it’s a good mindset to consider all those that work for you when you don’t pay for things.
And while DL and DW are lovely products created and maintained by hard working and honest people, they don’t come near the quality, flexibility and precision of teaching that you’ll find in my course. And they also don’t come with even a trace of support.
There are many more reasons to work with my courses but the best way to actually find out whether my words are truthful or not is to give it a try. It takes about an hour to two hours to work through any trial and to feel the power of a throughly thought through and proven approach to learn the German language without a private tutor.
And if you want to burn your fingers yourself or prove me wrong, here you will find a wide range of affordable tutors (affiliate link of course). And don’t take me wrong: if you find a tutor that works for you and the money is not an issue for you, I’m more than happy to hear from you. My aim is to make you think and question what you think is true. If you set out to find your own truth and find it, I’m happy. And if you find out what I wrote is true, you know where to find my courses to continue your German lessons with a very powerful approach.
Viel Erfolg mit Deinem Deutsch and may you enjoy your journey