When Germans say their English is ‘not so good’…

They’re lying!!!!

OK, maybe they’re not lying, but they’re confused. I’ve been teaching English privately for a few months in Germany. I mostly teach kids and sometimes adults. It’s been amazing to see how enthusiastic Germans are in teaching their kids English or learning for themselves. I am a 1-1 tutor and offer your basic English lessons, with a heavy focus on speaking and reading comprehension.

Adults often want to meet with me to improve their English skills so they can have better conversations on holiday. Yes, you read that right. They are paying me to teach them language skills for vacation. How cool is that?! It would be like me taking language courses for a week trip to Spain. I love their enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge. While many adults learned English as a child, they have forgotten most. They often begin by telling me their English is not so good…followed by complete sentences in English. The reality of it is

For children, the lessons are a bit more intensive, based on grammar and school exercises. It’s also fun to see the difference in a kid’s engagement level. For example, my eight-year-old is always so excited to meet me and actively participates. While my 12 year old attempts to bargain her way out of reading aloud.

In a few weeks, I’ll start teaching bachelor students. I find this to be incredibly intimidating and am quite sure they’re going to eat me alive with their silent stares. I’m excited for the challenge, but know in the back of my head they will be better at English than they profess.

Some takeaways I’ve learned:

  • Teach the vocab they need to know. Kids don’t need to know about job words and adults don’t need to know all the animals.
  • Just like babysitting…it’s OK to be strict sometimes
  • German parents take tutoring really seriously. I’m often asked to make the lesson not all ‘fun and games.’
  • Read the articles before you give them to students to read. I once had a student pick an article from a food magazine. When he finished reading I asked him to tell me which words he didn’t understand. He had underlined – “pot-laced gummi bears” – oops! Because he was 17 and we’re in Germany, I explained… and then told him not to tell his dad 🙂
  • People will hire me anywhere…like the one time I went to the tax office and the receptionist asked if they could call me for lessons!


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