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The Most Effective Tips for Taking German Lessons Online

Here are the tips that help you get the most out of taking German online lessons.

German classes are available in many forms, we can choose from offline classes, offline one-on-one classes, or online live and recorded classes. If you are wondering how you can make the best strategy of taking German lessons online, you have found the right place.


A Short Overview
Benefits of Online Recorded Lessons
Time for One-On-One Lessons
A Summary

A Short Overview

the most effective tips for German lessons online

As someone who has personally experienced all of them, I believe that we should choose online recorded classes for the acquisition of German language knowledge and one-on-one online lessons for the output stage.

I know that when it comes to German lessons online, many recommend online one-on-one courses like italki. But I don’t think it’s particularly necessary for German learners to buy live online courses, either one-on-one or one-on-many, at the stage of knowledge acquisition.

The knowledge acquisition stage here refers to the learning of pronunciation, grammar rules, explanation of new vocabulary and cultural phenomena, etc.

Why choose online recorded German lessons at this stage?

The reasons are simple.

Recorded classes are:

  1. flexible in terms of time and location
  2. can be adjusted according to our own learning pace
  3. relatively inexpensive, and can be watched repeatedly

In addition, one of the biggest significance of interacting with the teacher is to get feedback from him/her, but at the stage of passive knowledge learning, we don’t receive much meaningful feedback most of the time, so the advantages of participating in live and offline classes don’t come through very well.

What we need one-on-one instruction for is more in the output stage.
For example, practice of German pronunciation, speaking and writing output, etc. In this case, one-on-one coaching can help us to recognize our shortcomings and correct them in order to improve more quickly.

What Are the Benefits of Online Recorded Lessons?

taking German lessons online

1. Flexible Time and Place

If, like me, you have to work and are not able to learn German full time, online recorded lessons are the most flexible way learn.

For people who cannot learn German full time and have to work during the week, the study time is not as fixed as for students, because I might have to travel tonight, I might work late tomorrow, and so on.

If you are enrolled in an offline class, you will be familiar with the scenario where you are tired after a long day of work and you come home and have dinner and other chores to do.
At this point, the thought of going out to a German class makes you want to give up and just stay at home, but with that comes the guilt of “signing up and not going to class” ……

This is where the flexibility of a video class comes in handy. We can schedule classes flexibly according to my different agenda each day.
Because it is an online German course, we do not need to go out and spend time on the way to and from class. We can start learning as soon as we arrive home, or as soon as we finish eating, if we want. In a way, it helps me save a lot of time and energy and somehow needs less motivation to maintain.

2. Relatively Cheap

Generally speaking, the price of recorded online classes is much cheaper than live and face-to-face classes.

Because the lessons are already recorded and do not require the teacher to spend extra time on the lessons, therefore, we do not need to pay too much tuition for such lessons.

If we spend less money when we are learning fixes language knowledges, then it means that we can use the money we save as this point for the more meaningful purpose: Getting feedback in the latter stage.

3. Repeatable and Adjustable Progress

When we have offline classes, we go after the class, and if there are points we do not understand, we can only read the notes or search the answers again online by ourselves. If we did not understand the teacher’s explanation, we had to wait until the next class to ask the teacher.

As for the online live lessons, some courses will provide a recordings for students who are able to attend the sessions, but some will not.

If you are watching the recorded video, the outcome is often not as good as the recorded class.

Because during the live session, the teacher will often insert some small talk, while the recorded class would only be issued after editing, the content is relatively concise and targeted. This actually helps us save a lot of time.

In addition, the recorded classes are available for us to watch repeatedly, and if there is something we do not understand, we can directly find the corresponding chapter to review.

Likewise, whether it is a live German course or a face-to-face lesson, if you are attending a class, the pace of the teacher’s explanation must take into account the level of the whole class. It will not be a surprise that the teacher is speaking too fast or too slow for you. In this case, you have no choice but to follow the teacher’s pace.

However, if you buy a recorded class, then the pace is much more flexible for you. If you feel that the content is too much to digest, then it is perfectly fine to pause it, or replay it.
If you feel the pace is too slow, then you can adjust the speed of the video, or choose to skip a specific point of explanation.

Therefore, I prefer to watch live classes when I am passively learning about language points. If I come across something that I think I understand well, I usually adjust the video to about 1.5x speed, go through the content quickly, and then pause when I need to take notes.

4. Not much Interaction Needed When Absorbing German Knowledges

The role of the teacher in language learning is twofold, one is to impart knowledge and the other is to give feedback.

Let’s start with imparting knowledge.

Knowledge itself is fixed. In German, the basics of grammar, pronunciation rules, word meanings, these are the basics of knowledge itself.

Regardless of the teacher, the content is fixed, but the method of teaching may vary from teacher to teacher. Even if it is a live class or a face-to-face class, it is not very different from a recorded class, because most of the time, the teacher is just doing repetitive work.

For students, when they are learning about the language, they are actually sitting in front of a classroom or computer for the most part to listen and take notes, which means they are passively receiving. Therefore, there is not much advantage to attend online live or face-to-face classes.

In addition, when buying a recorded class, we are able to choose a teacher who we think teaches the best. If you sign up for offline classes or some certain online live lessons, you generally have to rely on luck to get a teacher, and if you are unfortunate enough to meet a teacher you don’t like, then there is a good chance that you will also be discouraged from learning.

Now we come to feedback.

Feedback, in my opinion, is the most and most important aspect of teaching, and the most valuable aspect of face-to-face and live classes.

Feedback means that the teacher gives you a task, or you choose a task yourself, such as writing, oral expression, etc. After you complete the task, the teacher makes an evaluation tailored to your individual case, pointing out what you have done wrong so you can pay attention and correct the errors later in your learning.

For example, you could give a relatively short speech on a topic, and after you finish, the teacher points out what mistakes you made in it, such as pronunciation, grammar, word choice, etc., based on your speech.

In this way, you will realize some points that you usually overlook, and then practice and improve them in a targeted manner.

However, for beginners, most of the time we are passive receivers of language knowledge. For example, grammar rules, key vocabulary and expressions, etc.

Since we have limited knowledge and not enough input at this point, we are not able to produce much meaningful output.

Even at the intermediate and advanced levels, there are times when we need to passively learn the knowledge itself and to listen, read, as well as do exercises. For all these activities, we do not need a teacher around all the time.

Therefore, the interaction with the teacher is not particularly necessary in the stage of absorbing knowledge.

When Do We Need One-On-One Online Lessons?

In the early learning stage, you can take one-on-one lessons to correct your pronunciation.

If you are not very sensitive to pronunciation and cannot tell very well whether your pronunciation is accurate or not, it is essential to find a teacher to help you with one-on-one corrections. Pronunciation rules are very important for learning German because in the future we will repeat and eventually internalize these pronunciation rules. If you pronounce something wrong at the beginning, it will be harder to change it afterwards if you develop a habit.

Once we get to the intermediate level, we can find our learning gaps in the output stage with online one-on-one lessons.

As mentioned above, when we enter the intermediate stage (I think the intermediate stage is at least from B1 onwards), we gradually have built something up and can slowly produce some meaningful output on a topic. At this point, we can use a platform like italki to find a teacher who can provide us with one-on-one guidance.

A summary

In my opinion, the best way to take online lessons is to use recorded online lessons at the stage of acquiring knowledge.

At the early stage, if we are not too confident in our pronunciation, we can get a teacher to help us correct our pronunciation errors.

After that, when we have accumulated a certain amount of language knowledge and are able to make meaningful output, then we can find a teacher for one-on-one tutoring.

Of course, taking online lessons is not the only way to learn German. It really depends on what type of learning mode suits you the best and you have to figure it out by yourself. This article aims only to make suggestions for people who decide to start learning German online.

Do you have any experience on taking German lessons online? Feel free to leave a comment. I am excited to hear from you!

Recommended Reading

  • Just a German beginner? Check out here to get a smooth start!
  • If you prefer to learn German with a textbook, check out my recommendations for German learning materials.
  • What makes a German teacher good? Find it out here.

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