I teach a lot of German classes. I have been rather obsessed with learning German on my own for several years now.
I tend not to like having a teacher, but since I need German for my job I want to be perfect at it.
So two years ago I decided I had to take lessons myself.
My first teacher, a German lady who lived in Slovakia because her German husband was temporarily based in Slovakia and working for Volkswagen, was not a real German teacher.
However, so far she has turned out to be the best one.
She was natural, fun, open, told me a lot about herself and her experiences, but she also asked me lots of questions and was genuinely interested in what I had to say.
We had an informal arrangement. I agreed to pay for lunch every time we met. Because I was so satisfied with the value she so freely delivered I tried my best to pick the best restaurants to take her to and to make her feel as comfortable as possible. It’s her you see in the picture. One of the best teachers I have ever had, although she probably doesn’t realize that at all. She was warm, spontaneous, had a great sense of humor and really made me love German. Maybe it’s because she grew up in East Germany, but she was nothing like all the cliches concerning Germany would have you believe.
When she left Slovakia I went looking online.
My second teacher was a German young lady. When we started she lived in Italy, but eventually she moved to Switzerland. She was ok, but very dry, a bit formal and distant. She did try to ask me questions and encouraged me to talk. She was fairly professional. A big minus though was that she couldn’t hide the fact that talking to me was simply a job. This is of course a fact. She was just doing her job, but still, I do appreciate a warmer attitude. Eventually she got a job where her schedule constantly changed. I really need to have lessons at the same time every week. So I went looking for someone else.
I thought perhaps an older person would be more strict with me and push me more. At first I thought I had found the right person, but soon I noticed my new teacher kept repeating herself, talked to me as though I was a bit mentally retarded and kept being surprised every time I obviously remembered every thing she told me. Eventually I found out she was suffering from a mental issue. She was a fine teacher, but perhaps better suited to teach beginners, since her approach was very formal. Still, I can’t say she was a bad teacher. She was the only one who corrected me whenever I made a mistake. Her health issues made her cancel lessons and again, I want to have regular lessons every week, no exceptions. I also don’t like repetition and I want someone to push me to talk as much as possible.
With my next teacher I ended up paying to be someone’s psychologist. I swear she is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and that’s why I kept the lessons going for some time, but I could hardly get a word in. 95 percent of the time she was doing the talking. This is problematic since I can listen to German for free all day long online. I need to talk so I need less time to think before I say something in German. I feel like I could be friends with her and if I were 15 years younger I might even consider trying to be in a relationship with her, but these were not lessons. This was more me being a therapist and listening and footing the bill at the end. I want to be as fair as possible here: I have that effect on people. I don’t know why but people always end up telling me about their most personal stuff. I don’t mind, but to improve my German this is not the way to go.
I am looking for the next teacher of German.
This time I will choose a guy, just out of curiosity.
So far the experience has definitely made me even more careful about not doing most of the talking during my lessons with my own students. And I see the value of LISTENING to your students even more.
All the people I have mentioned were kind and had good intentions, but so far not a single one of them had the willingness or awareness to make me do most of the talking.
What’s also true is that I am so used to listening to people that I easily fall into that role when am dealing with a teacher who loves talking.
It’s also true that I did not tell them I wanted to talk more.
I am always deadly afraid of being abrasive or hurting someone’s feelings.
I must add though, when somebody pisses me off I become VERY abrasive.
People and their characteristics are always polarized.
Everyone can be as sweet as he or she can be rude and aggressive.
If the nicest you can be is a six out of ten then that is also how aggressive you can be, six out of ten.
You don’t have to believe me, but I can often be 10 out 10 nice.
That’s also why I earnestly hope people do not piss me off.