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  #21  
Old 03.02.2011, 17:33
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

Ab Fab - oh yes I was (as I am born and bred Suisse Romande). Grammar, verbs, tenses - no oral, listening at all. Those were the days.
I did very well in English and German Bac (Abitur) but couldn't string 2 words together when I arrived in London. Indeed I met my OH by accident because I could not understand English (ie got into wrong part of train and ended up in the wrong place, Twickenham instead of Isleworth!).
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Old 03.02.2011, 17:35
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

Hi!

I started my German lessons three weeks ago, and yes we are only allowed to speak german in the class. We were actually told off during break time for speaking english to one another. Good luck!!
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  #23  
Old 03.02.2011, 18:42
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

Hi, I was sitting next to your husband in the class last night. The two of us were the only native English speakers there so the teacher had no choice but to communicate in German unless she spoke Portuguese, Bosnian, Spanish, Indian as well.... it was a very mixed class! Regardless, the total emersion technique is a much used one for the reasons the others mention in this thread. I did beginners French and Spanish in the same way and it works even if at first it is a bit of a shock especially if it's the first time you've tried to learn a language. Tell your husband not to give up and that I expect to see him at next weeks class - we can muddle through it together!
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Old 03.02.2011, 18:54
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

Years back in London; I got a TESOL qualification (in case it was ever useful to have), and that's exactly how English is taught to non-English speakers.
It is obviously a tried and tested method that is used to impart the basics in a relatively short time. But it is best used with a lot of visual aids, gestures and miming. This methods imparts the meaning of language usage and not word for word comparative translation.

In my TESOL class, one of the teachers had for many years, previously worked in Japan and could speak the language. As an example, one afternoons lesson was conducted only in Japanese, with the basics being picked up by us students relatively quickly.
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Old 04.02.2011, 11:46
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

wow - that opened up a bit of discussion. Good to know it is normal here - it isn't the normal way for both french and italian classes I took in Canada where they actually did help explain things in English so we knew what we were supposed to do THEN they made us do it in the language. I think he was just overwhelmed - but I will tell him his classmate expects him there too funny!
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Old 04.02.2011, 12:14
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

Yes! It is normal. I had the same challenge at the beginning. If you would like to have a teacher that explains everything in your mother tongue, you should then choose for private german lessons! It is more expensive, but you learn faster, and you can ask the teacher to explain what you do not understand in your mother tongue!
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Old 04.02.2011, 12:44
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

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just wondering if we should look at a different school - my hubby went to his first class last night and the teacher did not speak any english or provide any instructions in english - everything is only german. As he is brand new to German, it's a bit tough to follow so just wondering if that is the norm or maybe we look at other places? The school was recommended by our gemeinde but after one class he is already frustrated which isn't the best outcome
It is the best way to learn, just get him to hang in there. I know it is frustrating because I've been there, but he will make much better progress this way believe me.
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  #28  
Old 04.02.2011, 13:16
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

It was the same with me in Migro School.

During the first days, I didn't understand nothing. But after a few classes, things start to make sense, because is everything a repetition of a repetition.

Just to give an example, the teacher wrote the homework in the board, and I didn't understand. Then, in the next class, me (and some others) didn't have the homework made.

That was only 1 time, because in the next, everybody know.

So, I'm not completely in favour of only german, but I have to say that it really helps. Sometimes I don't understand something and then I take note and ask my boss and he explain to me. (which is also good, because I repeat the word, and etc).

Tell him to not give up. Give a time, 2, 3, 4 classes. He will see that suddenly words will start to make sense.
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  #29  
Old 04.02.2011, 13:18
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

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just wondering if we should look at a different school - my hubby went to his first class last night and the teacher did not speak any english or provide any instructions in english - everything is only german. As he is brand new to German, it's a bit tough to follow so just wondering if that is the norm or maybe we look at other places? The school was recommended by our gemeinde but after one class he is already frustrated which isn't the best outcome
Unfortunately, it is the norm at most language schools, which in my opinion are always a bit of a waste of time and money, as for reasons mentioned by previous posters...

In your case, I would invest in a private tutor whose mother tongue is English, and has mastered proficiency in German - he will be the most capable to explain German grammatical structures from the perspective of an English speaker.
(E.g. I was struggling for months to understand the meaning of the perfect tense in English, until a native German speaker, who is fluent in English, was able to explain me that the perfect tense in English is not a proper past tense, unlike in German. A native English speaking teacher, without any knowledge of German, would never had been able to compare and contrast such)

Anyway...best of luck and patience in your endeavors.
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  #30  
Old 04.02.2011, 13:28
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

Quite normal for me as well:
when I started from the scratch (level A1) in Migros Klubschule in Basel the teacher spent the first few weeks speaking ONLY basic German and helping himself with gesture, hands and designs on the white board.
As time went by, we understood that he was also English and Italian speaking (which would have made it easier for us).
But afterwards, I realized that all the effort at the beginning was worth it.
You have to make the effort to try to understand what they say and why they say it in that way.
Besides, forget about translating from English or your native language !

Anyway, I still see the big efforts a British schoolmate of mine makes still now (after 2ys, level B1) to try to get such a difficult grammar, especially if compared with an easy one as the English.

Good luck with it
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  #31  
Old 04.02.2011, 13:49
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

What I found helpful was I went and bought a 'Learn German' book in English. After class, when I didn't understand everything the teacher was trying to explain, I would refer to my book with English explanations. Eventually it worked and German class was no longer my nemisis!
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  #32  
Old 04.02.2011, 17:54
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

It is normal for english to be spoken in German classes outside of German speaking countries. It is normal only to speak German in German speaking countries. It is, afterall, the main language. It is tough, but better for you in the long run.
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  #33  
Old 04.02.2011, 18:25
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

m_dalloway - as a language's teacher, I really think that learning as part of a group, in the target language, is often much better and more fun than private lessons. However, I agree that as German grammar is totally alien to English speakers, that from time to time - an explanation of the basic concepts in the student's language is really useful to allow them to go beyond the 'intermediate plateau'. If anybody ever wants a few hours to help with this, pm me. (I am a native French speaker, but taught French and German in UK, with a UK Degree). Quite happy to help by pm. or organise a resident course (during working days or week-end).

Last edited by Odile; 04.02.2011 at 18:45.
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  #34  
Old 04.02.2011, 18:56
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

I took a beginner's German class at the University of Zurich language centre, and I had two classes per week. The first was devoted to grammar and was taught only in German; the second dealt with vocabulary and was English-based (it was established that pretty much everyone was English-speaking). We were universally annoyed that the grammar class was taught only in German, and the professor claimed to be part of the Berlitz school, where the emphasis was on complete submersion. Well, we were submerged to the point of drowning: without even a little English for a reference point, we were completely lost!! In the end, we would ask the vocabulary professor to go over the grammar rules with us as well as the vocab, which was a big help! I think if you're a very beginner, you can't expect your students to magically know German...
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  #35  
Old 04.02.2011, 19:06
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

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just wondering if we should look at a different school - my hubby went to his first class last night and the teacher did not speak any english or provide any instructions in english - everything is only german. As he is brand new to German, it's a bit tough to follow so just wondering if that is the norm or maybe we look at other places? The school was recommended by our gemeinde but after one class he is already frustrated which isn't the best outcome
The problem is that a newbie has no 'bricks' to build with.
I did it like this: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I took ten nouns from the evening newspaper, looked them up and made a list with two columns: German on one side, English on the other. I memorized them and kept going back to read them. If he does this, he'll have enough of a basis so that he can pick out words when people speak. Also, a very important thing in German is to get a good grasp of verb conjugation. Fortunately this is very consistent and therefore not too difficult to apply. There are some irregularities but don't worry about it; they will come with time.

Also, watch the evening news in high German. They will almost always show clips to accompany the newcaster's storyline, so it's easy to understand some things from a contextual point. It isn't easy and can be quite tiring, but the news makes it easier.

A co-worker also uses Youtube to watch film clips that were dubbed into German but originally English. The courses are tough if there is no previous knowledge but the most important thing is to build the basis asap.

Using these techniques (except Youtube which didn't exist back then), it took me about 18 months to speak passable conversational German, but I understood nearly everything in a year.
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  #36  
Old 05.02.2011, 23:02
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?
I guess it is quite normal, especially if it's for learning:
  • With high goals, such as being fluent within 1-2 years, able to follow university courses, or able to work in German.
  • "Full" time (ideally: 24 hours a day; meaning that one is supposed to be quite obsessed with learning German, working a lot and on his/her own out of the classes)
  • For cheap in a German-speaking country/canton. Typically, other students will be low educated immigrants from former Yugoslavia, Portugal or China, etc. so they would definitely be upset of German classes in English, as it would be 2 unknown languages at once.
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after one class he is already frustrated which isn't the best outcome
Motivation and time are the keys (see points 1 and 2 above). Both are needed.

Or you can choose some tailored courses (see point 3 above), which would be, of course, expensive.

And good luck for your hubby. I have suffered classes of Finnish in Finnish (I have lived 8 years in Finland), and it was not fun. And I have not learned Finnish after all, because I had already a full time work in Finland in an English-speaking company, and because an incredible proportion of Finnish people do speak good English in Helsinki, so not much motivation and not much time on my side.

/Paul
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  #37  
Old 06.02.2011, 01:02
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

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just wondering if we should look at a different school - my hubby went to his first class last night and the teacher did not speak any english or provide any instructions in english - everything is only german. As he is brand new to German, it's a bit tough to follow so just wondering if that is the norm or maybe we look at other places? The school was recommended by our gemeinde but after one class he is already frustrated which isn't the best outcome
Funny, people say that it's easier to learn when you are younger.
But at school when you learn a foriegn language you are taught it in a class where everyone speaks the same mother tongue.
But when you're older and you have to learn a language in the new country that you are living in, you normally have to learn alongside people from many countries many of whom don't speak English.
I think it's fair and equitable that English speakers are not favoured above non-English speakers.
However as English is by default THE international common non indigenous language, it would be nice if there were German classes in English to go back to the easiness of learning while you were at school.
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Old 06.02.2011, 01:09
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

We have our German classes taught by teachers who can speak English so that it makes it easier to learn the new words and expressions faster on the go than checking in dictionary. However at certain level of proficiency I found it more beneficial for us students to be addressed only in the language that we intend to learn. Just my two cents.
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  #39  
Old 06.02.2011, 01:49
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

I have heard that in Japan, English-language classes are required as part of the curriculum, but many of the English teachers aren't fluent at all. If you really want to learn German, it's better to hear real German from a native speaker than an English speaking teacher whose German is only slightly better than the students.
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Old 06.02.2011, 02:49
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Re: is it normal for beginner German class to ONLY be in German?

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English tenses are extremely complicated - with 7 ways of expressing the past alone. And yet I'll wager you were never officially taught any of these...
Abfab and Adrian are both correct. I have taught English as a total immersion subject for complete beginners and am now struggling with learning German.

Some of the differences between learning a language from birth include the fact that there is an optimum period for learning language - which is not as an adult, that more allowances are made for toddlers who use single words and short phrases with incorrect tenses and that they are not trying to juggle language aquisition with other time restraints, such as earning a living.

From a commercial point of view, people learning a language are often grouped together despite having different levels of exposure to the target language and coming into class with different levels of understanding of that language. Then, it depends on the teacher - is the lesson going to be pitched at the absolute beginner ( who enrolled because it was advertised as a "Beginners" course, or at a higher level in the class?

Then there are the different learning styles and speed of learning for individuals in a class.....

For the original poster: is the class using a text book? If so, it could be useful to ask the teacher what is going to be covered in the next lesson. That then gives a little prep time to go through the lesson with a dictionary to get the general gist of what may be required - even knowing the words for read, write, listen, page, answer, etc will help a bit.

My personal biggest frustration (there are two others) comes when I think I have understood the instruction, spend time doing an exercise in class, then find that I got the instruction wrong, so that what I have just worked on is actually no use for what is about to happen next.
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