You’ve decided to really get focused about your German language learning – but now what? A popular choice are German evening classes. But how do you choose where to go? And at the moment, attending classes in person is not really an option.
Why should you choose German evening classes?
Evening classes have the benefit of fitting into your schedule, if you work a 9-5 office job. Grab a sandwich after work, and head over for two hours of German practice. However, if your job doesn’t have a set schedule, or you work shift work, those 7-9pm classes may not work for you. If you have kids, that means missing dinner and bedtime twice a week, for instance, and that’s not very practical. That’s the reason that kept me out of the evening classes offered around the corner from my flat. For some people, though, in-person classroom learning is the gold standard. I admit it, I thought so too. But with the current issues around COVID, everyone has to approach work and learning in different ways, so let’s look at some alternatives.
Everyone who has ever attempted to learn a language in the last five years knows the green owl. While apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone can help you review vocabulary and basic grammar, it’s not going to get you very far in terms of conversation. I had three months’ notice before moving to Germany – I went all-out on Duolingo before the big move. In the end, I was able to read menus a bit and find the toilet reliably. It didn’t help at all with speaking.
As a supplement to actual classes, I do find some apps helpful, but they aren’t those ones. The Deutsche Welle DW Learn German app is great. Not only do you learn from listening to stories and answering questions, often the subject matter is directly applicable – things like opening bank accounts and dealing with roommates. I also like using a quiz app for learning articles – there are several, search ‘Der Die Das’ on the app store. I know this is a weak spot for me, so additional practise is worth it.
Meet-ups and tandem – virtual or not
In any given German town, there will be others like you, looking to improve their German. Or, looking to improve another language, and you can trade your skills. Tandem sessions are conversation practise, where you each spend an allotted time speaking in one language, with the native speaker helping to correct errors, and guide the flow of the conversation. After a few minutes, you switch languages.
These sessions can be really helpful, because it’s hard to replace actual live conversation, even in a class environment. I find it easiest to agree on a subject for your session ahead of time, so each of you can look up a bit of vocab and think of a few things to say. Of course, it’s not scripted, and honestly even with some preparation, after two minutes of chatting, you will have to come up with conversation on the fly! Choosing a topic beforehand also means you’re not wasting time together casting around for something to talk about. There are websites dedicated to matching up tandem partners, like Tandem.net and the Volkschule system runs tandem matching service too. In the “beforetimes”, I would meet up with tandem partners in coffee shops, or we would go for a walk. But now, people meet online in a video chat, which is easy. Tandem sessions should be free, as you’re both getting benefit from it, so don’t let anyone talk you into paying money for it!T
Take a German evening class – online
When I was struggling to find a way to continue my German learning in a way that fit into my schedule as a freelancing parent, I found Lingoda, the online language school. What a relief. I can book a Lingoda class when it works for me – sometimes that’s right after school drop-off, sometimes it’s after bedtime. The class sizes are small, so I don’t get lost in the back row, and the teachers are friendly and very patient. It’s online, so I don’t have to interrupt my learning during the pandemic, and I don’t have to commute to class. You can try a 7-day trial for free, too.
So don’t despair, things are different these days, but you can keep up your German learning, with evening classes or any time classes.