German Tips

How to recognize good teachers for German as a foreign language?

Good teachers for German as a foreign language must have at least a training in the following fields:

  • Development of linguistic skills, i.e. first language acquisition (= mothertongue), second language acquisition (= foreign language), etc.
  • Teaching German (teaching methods for grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, literature…)
  • Monitoring and analysing classes
  • Planning classes
  • Teaching and learning aids, analysing teaching material
  • Teaching German speaking culture and societies considering a perspective from outside
  • German-language literature
  • German linguistics
  • Teaching special languages (e.g. Business German, German for Engineers,…)
  • Mistakes and their correction
  • Tests, exams, assessments

The best way to acquire such knowledge is a corresponding study course „German as a Foreign Language“. Some people are also good autodidacts. In any case you should find out your teacher’s educational background and whether this teacher really knows something about teaching German as a foreign language.

Interview possible future teachers and find out the following:

How and where were they educated? What were they trained in? Did they attend regular classes to learn teaching methods and if yes, for how long did this training last? (There are crash courses that last just a couple of weeks! Of course that kind of classes are no substitute for a thorough education that lasted years.) Or have they been meddling through giving classes for years without any training in teaching methods? This is often the case in private language schools. What schools will usually tell you if you ask is „All our teachers have years of experience.“
Does your teacher know which text book he / she will choose before they have even seen you? – Bad. The text books are all different and designed for various learner types. This is why a good teacher will choose the text book only after a try-out-lesson.
Does your teacher know how the various statal German exams are designed and what is really important?

Please make sure that your future teacher is really qualified for your needs. „German teacher“ is not a legally protected title. Everyone who feels like teaching German may do so and call her/himself „German teacher“.

Only really expensive schools, as e.g. the Goethe-Institute, employ exclusively qualified staff. Quality simply has its price.

People who had not so great German teachers usually have for example the following problems:

  • not enough vocabulary. Often only half of the vocabulary which should have been learned for instance after completing basic level classes can be really used by the student.
  • serious problems with declination – at the end of medium level students still do not know whether a Kontakt-n needs to be added to the adjective or not. Not to mention an automatisation, i.e. the correct endings are added automatically and the German student does not have to think about them.
  • students have little command of gender rules.  Usually they know only about five gender rules (e.g. -ung is femine, die Zeitung). However there are about 70 of these rules. Command of these rules of course considerably eases the declination problem.
  • often differences like e.g. between „erst“ and „nur“, between „sehr“ and „viel“ or between „hier“, her“ and „hin“ are not understood.
  • modal particles (e.g. ja, doch, schon, eben, …) are often not understood and cannot be used correctly.