I often get contacted by companies who are looking for in-house German training for their employees. This is what I tell them, why they should look for a better solution than in house language lessons.
To be bluntly direct, in my opinion, most in-house German lessons are a complete waste of money and lifetime. They demotivate learners in the long run and your employees might end up with broken German which is incredibly hard to fix.
This article names the reasons behind this and offers a cost-sensitive solution based on the materials and services developed by smarterGerman.
LONG VERSION (MAX 10 MINS)
In-house German training is often a complete waste of money and (even worse) of your employees’ lifetime and motivation
(German) language classes in a group simply do not work no matter what size. This is due to the following reasons:
The Turtle and the Hare: Language learners are rarely on the same level which means that one is usually faster than the other. The faster learner has to slow down, the slower learner knows that the faster one has to wait for him. Or the slower learner has to race after the faster one. Either way not an ideal situation.
Bad Input: In a German learning group of 5 participants there is only one who speaks proper German: the teacher. That means 5 out of 6 times when someone speaks you hear bad German. And what goes in comes out.
Inefficient Correction: We don’t really learn from the language mistakes of others. The teacher can’t correct everybody all the time and if she does, she most likely corrects a mistake that the other participants wouldn’t have made as mistakes are strongly dependent on a learner’s background and learning psychology.
Immersion: Complex matters like the German grammar require clear and concise instructions in a language that the learner clearly understands. If your German tutor only uses German to teach German, you might want to consider changing to another provider as this approach is outdated since the 70ies. Watch this video for more information.
Homework: Homework is the essential ingredient to successful and rewarding German learning, because you only learn from constant repetition and use. Usually course participants are not given sufficient homework if any at all. This homework is rarely checked or valuable course time is wasted on homework checking that the participants could have done themselves if properly instructed.
Nobody seems to care about learner’s progress: A friend of mine is the head of a department in a big concern and said that while the language school they hired for language training protocolled the learners’ progress, no one in his company ever looked at that. I’m not even sure the learners themselves were shown these reports nor whether they were actually interested.
Missing Intimacy: Learning the German language is actually a very personal matter. One often feels insecure, dumb or simply vulnerable when trying to speak the new language. Those are all feelings one doesn’t really like to share with coworkers but they are a natural part of the language learning process and can be easily dealt with in a protected environment.
Missing Opportunities to Speak: In most international companies English is the working language. But even if one could communicate in German, at work things have to go smoothly. So there’s often not enough time to speak slow German. Either one is already fluent or one has to use English.
After an 8-9 hour workday, one is happy to head home and not spend another 90 mins in the office even for such pleasant events like a German class. At home, most learners also speak English or another language than German. Short: There is very little opportunity to practice one’s German even in real life. In classes there are opportunities but the topics one talks about are often artificial and generic. As a language learner, I always found role-playing to practice dialogues embarrassing.
The Solution: How to help your employees learn German Efficiently
There are even more reasons that speak out loud against in-house language training in a group but in my opinion these are the key reasons. Now you might wonder what might be the solution to this quite delicate matter. Here is my suggestion in short:
Individualized Tuition in combination with blended learning
The key to many of the above issues is to provide employees with individual tuition combined with blended learning. While one on one lessons in German might seem more expensive at first glance, when looking at the desired outcome they are the only way to go. But you can still achieve good results with a lot less money than you might think.
Der Goldene Mittelweg
Most German learners do not need a German private tutor every day. All they need is some assistance and someone to practice their German with without having to be afraid of making mistakes.
Use smarter German Learning Materials and Learn to Learn
I suggest to use the smarterGerman Starter Kit (soon to become an online German course, ETA 08/2017) for your employees. This Starter Kit provides German learners with a solid and easy to adapt learning structure and easy to follow German learning materials.
The German grammar is explained in simple and concise words in English and the accompanying exercises are intelligent and not predictable. Key to our material is that the German learner learns how to learn more efficiently. The majority of language learners is still applying language learning techniques from middle school.
I have developed a learning technique based on intensive study of learning patterns of hundreds of students. The aim of the Starter Kit is to make the learner independent of any teaching as soon as possible. With our materials learners can study whenever and wherever they like.
Work with a German Conversation Trainer
Most of the learning process can be outsourced with help of our online German learning materials. But the speaking needs to be practiced with a (near) native speaker. Unfortunately not many native speakers make good conversation practice partners. There are a few things that need to be considered. A conversation trainer needs to have knowledge of the learning method and needs to be able to correct sensitively and intelligently. She also needs to establish a good connection to the learner as that will help with her motivation.
Learning German can be quite overwhelming especially when trying to approach this task on one’s own. That’s why we offer dedicated learners weekly live Q&A sessions in which they can ask me, Michael Schmitz, the creator of smarterGerman, any question they like. Those weekly sessions are not teaching lessons. They are there to make sure that our customers know how to make the most out of our materials and have someone to refer to when they encounter a motivation low or struggle with a certain topic. Often it is just a little nudge that makes the difference between failure and success.
Cheaper than your Current System
With the above approach you will most likely pay even less than you currently pay for your language training but at the same time you will get a lot more individualized training for your employees which will lead to better German, higher motivation and happier employees.
If you have further questions, simply contact me.