Learning German with Lingoda
When I first started learning German, I used Duolingo. It gave me a good kick-start with the language, but it wasn’t enough to learn the grammar or to be conversational. After moving to Switzerland, I had to up my game, so I joined a local in-person conversation class. This class was very helpful, but one lesson per week wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be. And conversation practice “in the wild” was also not going as well as I hoped. In the Zürich area, so many people know English that whenever I tried speaking German (slowly), they quickly got frustrated with me and switched to English. (The other reason conversations didn’t go well is that I’m learning High German and not Swiss German, but that will have to be a future blog post). If I was going to learn German, I needed a way to practice German conversation, and ideally a way to do so more often than once a week. To solve this problem, I started taking lessons with Lingoda.
Lingoda provides on-line language classes with live teachers using Zoom video conferencing. Unlike Duolingo, Lingoda is not free. It is, however, price-competitive with in-person classes (prices are on-line). So, what are the classes like and did they work?
With Lingoda you can take one-on-one private lessons or small group lessons. Either way, the format for each lesson is the same – a Zoom videoconference with a power-point style presentation led by an instructor where you are given an opportunity to speak, read, and interact. The curriculum follows the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and all classes are led by a native speaker.
I have done both private one-on-one lessons and group lessons. The group lessons cost less, but I vastly prefer the private lessons.
My goal was to get practice speaking and in a one hour lesson with 6 other people I was not getting much opportunity to do so. The private one-on-one lessons, though, were perfect. I got plenty of speaking time, including time to just have off-the-cuff conversations. (I have found it incredibly interesting to hear so many first-hand accounts of how Coronavirus has been affecting people in different countries and cities all over the world.)
The other reason I prefer private lessons is that scheduling them is much more convenient than scheduling group classes. With the group classes, you need to choose from the times available. Some lessons have a lot of available group classes while others have very very few. And the classes never seemed to be at a time I wanted. Private lessons, on the other hand, can be scheduled at any time 24/7. You just tell the system when you want a lesson and they pair you up with an available teacher. With teachers all over the world (meaning teachers in every time-zone), no matter what time of day you request, you are likely to find an available teacher. Only rarely have I had a class canceled because a teacher could not be found.
One of the things I thought would be an advantage of the group classes that turned out not to be such a big deal was teacher selection. With group classes you can often, although not always, see who the class teacher is before signing up. With private lessons there is no way to know who the teacher will be when you schedule a lesson. I worried about getting bad teachers and I worried that without the continuity of a single teacher, the classes might not be effective. But, almost all of the teachers I have had have been good. And surprisingly, I found the lack of continuity to be an advantage. With a different teacher every lesson, I was able to practice listening to and understanding a wide variety of voices and accents which has really helped sharpen my listening comprehension skills.
So, bottom line: Did it work? I would says yes, it really worked for me. Earlier this year, after completing the German B1 course with Lingoda, I passed the B1 TELC exam. And now when I speak German, people aren’t so quick to switch to English. One of my neighbors even said that from now on, she will only speak to me in German. Success!
Note: This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.
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