The Benefits of Learning German Online
There are a number of reasons why people want to learn to speak and read the German language.
1. It's the number-one spoken language in the European Union.
2. It's the second most common language used in scientific and technical applications.
3. Visas for skilled workers who speak German are relatively easy to obtain.
4. The German economy is in much better shape than those of most other European countries, creating many opportunities for those who can speak the language well.
For those who speak English or a Romance language, German is fairly easy to learn because many of the words are variations of those already in their own vocabulary. Now the critical question is: what is the best place for help that one can go in order to speak the language more fluently?
In the past, there were only three options—a classroom with a German-speaking teacher, an in-person tutoring session with someone who knew the language, or moving to a German-speaking country for language immersion. Today there are more convenient and cost-saving choices, for example, watching language-teaching DVDs or learning German online.
Watching TV or DVDs is certainly a pleasant task, but such is mere one-way teaching. In other words, you have no one to interact with and no teacher to turn to when you need help. From this aspect, online German tutoring, which is both interactive and interpersonal, is a much better choice. It saves your time as well as money, while still providing first-class instruction from native speakers plus the individualized assistance a student may need, like what a teacher does in a real classroom. There are even ways to learn German online for free.
Here is a look at all the traditional and modern ways in which you can learn the language as well as the pros and cons associated with each one.
Leaning German in a Real Classroom
The traditional method of learning any language is in a classroom. The rigor of required attendance, assignments and testing is certainly a plus when taking an in-person German course; it’s much more difficult to slack off when you need to be at your desk around scheduled times, hand in your work, and take supervised tests.
However, attending classes in a school is time consuming and can be difficult for many who have left school and been leading a career life. The extra time spent on commuting together with the unforgiving nature of required attendance often places a heavy burden on people who already have busy lives and jammed schedules.
These are the obvious drawbacks. Besides, there are also some subtle problems. The classroom study of a foreign language usually follows the same type of curriculum that has been used in schools for generations: vocabulary memorization and grammar drills. However, Dr. Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California, has studied the subject of second language acquisition extensively. He writes in the Washington Post, “We do not master languages by hard study and memorization…rather, we acquire language when we understand what people tell us. As we get ‘comprehensible input’ through listening and reading, we…‘absorb’…the grammar and vocabulary of the second language.” That is to say: the old methods don’t really work well.
Most in-person language classes are offered at places like high schools and community colleges. You'll often find that the teachers are not native German speakers, do not have an authentic accent, and may not even be completely fluent. That makes it much harder to pick up the language as it’s really spoken in Germany. Some specialty language schools use real native speakers to teach German – but these teachers can be extremely expensive.
Finally, it’s often difficult to get one-on-one help from the teacher in a crowded classroom. Those who fall behind usually have problems catching up with the rest of the students, and they don’t get the individual assistance they need.
Using an Personal German Tutor
Individual sessions with a tutor may be the quickest way to learn the language, particularly if you choose an instructor whose first language is German. Lessons can progress at your own speed and there’s obviously no problem with extra help when needed.
Scheduling may or may not be a bit more convenient with this option, depending on the tutor’s availability. It'll still take you considerable time travelling to and from the tutor (some tutors may agree to come to your house for teaching, but they will certainly ask for higher fees), however, and you’ll be charged for missed classes if a scheduled tutoring session conflicts with something else in your life. And this is by far the most expensive way to learn German—except, of course, that you travel overseas to find a German tutor, which would eat up countless months of your time and an inordinate amount of money.
Foreign Language DVD Courses
It would appear that buying a foreign language course DVD that can be shipped to your house and used at your convenience would be a simple way to learn German. It’s fairly inexpensive and very easy to do. Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone have made a lot of money selling these courses.
The problem is that most people never actually learn the language after the DVDs are bought. It’s far too easy to put the course aside for “when you have time.” Many just delay the next lesson indefinitely, skim through materials without understanding them, or skip lessons because things are getting too difficult. Others just go through the DVDs without actually practicing their German once the lesson is over. Such are the wrong way to master any language.
This “German in a box solution” takes a cookie-cutter approach with no nuance - and makes no allowances for your particular needs, learning speed or problem areas. And needless to say, there’s no way to get personalized help. In fact, many experts say the expectation that you’ll learn to speak a new language fluently from DVDs or tapes is just not grounded in reality.
“Learn Like a Child” Courses
It’s been well-established that children are usually able to pick up a new language more easily than adults are. And some DVDs or online courses now claim that they’ll teach you how to learn a language like German by getting you to remember the same learning techniques you once used as a child.
However, linguistic academic experts like Professor Robert deKeyser of the University of Maryland say that’s simply impossible. He tells Forbes, “You cannot expect to just absorb language the way that a child does.” DeKeyser says that children learn implicitly because they infer patterns in languages without understand the underlying rules. Adults, however, are already aware that languages have rules and can’t make the same inferences. In short, those purported “learn like a child” techniques just don’t work.
Learning German Online With Acadsoc – The Best Solution
There’s one way to combine all of the pros of the approaches considered above with very few drawbacks. Online German courses with Acadsoc tutors, who are completely fluent in the language, allow you the convenience of learning at home combined with the rigor of a classroom environment and the availability of personal help.
How You Choose Your Classes
Acadsoc has a wide range of choices for people learning German online. You can choose from one-on-one sessions with your own personal tutor, or small classes with between three and five students. You can choose the level or type of class: beginner, intermediate or advanced; conversational, grammar or vocabulary. You can pick your preferred tutor, some of whom have as much as 35 years experience in teaching the language. You can also look through previous students’ ratings and comments before you sign up for a particular class. You can choose whether you’d like your lessons conducted in English or native German. You can even pick times for your lessons that work best for you.
How the Lessons Work
When you’re ready for your lesson, there’s no travel time involved. You just sign in around 30 minutes before the class begins, when the tutor is supposed to open the Acadsoc self-developed teaching tool, known as the “E-classroom” (a very small and simple-to-use software like Skype). Once the E-Classroom is open, you simply click on a "join the class" button in your user center and then you'll be in the virtual classroom—no special software is needed. The only other hardware you will need is a headset so that you can hear the tutor speaking. A microphone is highly recommended so that you can communicate with the tutor, but if you don’t have one you can still communicate through chat boxes in the E-classroom.
Once you are in the E-Classroom, you'll see your tutor together with his computer screen, where course material will be presented. If the teacher desires, he or she can give you control over the screen with other functions such as annotation mark, whiteboard and recording, so you can answer questions by writing on the screen or present material to the class. Video, audio, grammar and spelling exercises and even games can easily be made part of the class, all displayed right in your E-classroom.
You’ll be able to ask or answer questions through the chat boxes or through your microphone, and can share documents with your tutor via the E-classroom’s file transfer function. You can even record the entire session so you can watch it again later, either to catch material you missed the first time or to review what you learned.
Learning German Online - Free
If you’re not sure whether an E-classroom approach would be right for you, you can try a free Acadsoc lesson with absolutely no obligation. You’ll see what the online tutoring experience is like, what you can expect from a complete course – and you can immediately start learning German online for free. What you’ll most likely discover is that learning German is with fun and far easier than you may have imagined. Just as importantly, your classes will fit into your schedule, you won’t waste precious time on the way back and forth, and you’ll get personalized instruction that you can record and re-watch as needed.