Have you ever felt like your classroom teacher was focusing on something unnecessary or uninteresting?
Are you sick of running around to have the class schedule fit into yours?
That can all be over now.
You are officially free. Welcome to the world of online German tutoring.
There is no question that we are living in the era of virtual classrooms. I have taken Cambridge English courses from the comfort of my home, while wearing my pajamas and drinking my morning coffee. My Dutch friend Anna learned Japanese on Facetime with a teacher from Tokyo. What with Skype lessons and distance learning programs, frankly, everyone is doing it.
It is not that the old-fashioned classrooms have gone out of style, but there are simply too many benefits to learning with an online tutor, especially in the case of languages.
But what, you may ask, makes tutoring so special?
The Benefits of Having a German Tutor
Working with a tutor is better for oral communication, as you can hear a native speaker, interact with them and have someone correct you when you make silly mistakes, eliminating the embarrassment factor of making mistakes in front of a crowded classroom.
In one-to-one lessons the focus is on nobody else but you. One hour of individual tutoring often equals many hours in a classroom full of people, in terms of the progress you can make.
Plus, with online German tutoring, it is you who decides what you want to learn. Tutors will develop lesson plans based on your needs and preferences, to help you achieve your learning goals within an established time frame.
Maybe you want to prioritize conversation, boost your German grammar, learn specific vocabulary for an upcoming trip or prepare for a presentation at work. Your online tutor can design a program to get you wherever you need to go.
Naturally, you will have a chance to learn at your own pace, and all the talking time will be devoted to you.
Another major advantage is that you will never be paying for a class you did not attend, as tutoring is usually paid on a pay-as-you-go basis. Still, you should check what your tutor’s cancellation policy is, and give them notice in advance.
There is a lot to gain from online German tutoring and, as many services offer a free trial session, often nothing to lose.
How to Make the Best of Learning with an Online German Tutor
Since you are paying by the hour, when you work with an online tutor, there are a few things you can do to make the best of your learning experience and derive the greatest benefits for your language skills.
- Be punctual and demand punctuality. Ask your tutor to value your time as you value theirs, or else your 60 minutes will end up being 45. If you want to chit chat and tell your tutor about your weekend, instead of wasting any precious time, just do it in German!
- Meet regularly. What you have learned may be lost after a couple of weeks if you do not keep up with your practice, so regular sessions are optimal for boosting your German skills.
- Take tests regularly. Assessment can help you and your tutor decide on the next step. If you are not tested, you may end up perpetuating certain mistakes in the future.
- Set realistic goals. It would be nice to go from intermediate to advanced in a month, especially when you are paying by the hour, but setting realistic goals is one of the keys to online tutoring success.
- Find a tutor that fits your personality and learning style. Imagine having to spend hours on end chatting to someone you don’t like. Choose a tutor you would like to hang out with and ask them to find texts and lessons on topics that interest you.
- Write more. Do not overlook written assignments in favor of oral communication. Take advantage of having a tutor around to correct your German writing.
- Seek variety. Try to switch tutors periodically to get used to different accents. Ask your tutors to teach you some of their local slang. Try to go beyond learning German from books and steer more towards real-life German.
To find the perfect German tutor for you, be sure to check out this more in-depth guide.
10 Virtually Perfect Places to Find an Online German Tutor
So, you want to find a great tutor and have no idea where to begin. Here are some great ideas for finding qualified, experienced and affordable German tutors online.
1. Language institute forums and connections
When looking for a tutor, you want to make sure you are hiring someone who is adequately qualified. Going through reputable organizations like Goethe Institut and other language training centers is a great way to ensure qualifications and experience.
Forums like the ones on GermanPod101 or Linguaholic can be a great starting point. There are even forums exclusively devoted to tutoring. For example, AboutGerman offers tutoring forums for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners.
And if you simply call your local German language institute or check their online forums, you can find many recommendations for suitable tutors in the area. Since you are looking for an online tutor, you can call or email any language center anywhere and still get suitable recommendations.
Verbling is a platform where qualified teachers who are also native speakers of German can offer their tutoring services on an hourly rate basis. Clients leave feedback for the tutors they have worked with, so that you can make your decision based on something other than the tutors’ sales pitches. The average cost per hour is about $15-25. Some tutors offer a free trial; this information appears listed on their profiles.
This site offers tutoring in many subjects, and boasts a dedicated German tutoring service. You have the option of paying $40 for a total of one hour of tutoring over the course of a calendar month or selecting a 2-hour or 3-hour package for $80 or $115 respectively. You can then access a tutor whenever you need one, 24/7.
This can be a great service if you are learning through self-study and want someone who can clarify doubts and provide useful tips whenever you need them, or if you are taking German lessons and you feel that you need a little bit of extra help and encouragement to make the best of your training.
4. Easy German
This Berlin-based company offers native German tutor services at €17.50 (EUR)—about $20 USD—per 60 minutes. Classes are 60 minutes each, and they can be scheduled on a 24/7 basis. Programs are tailored to your learning goals, and the platform of choice for sessions is Skype.
To determine your language level you have to take an entry test, and you can get one trial session free of charge.
The website italki is a comprehensive language learning platform that caters to all your German tutoring needs. You can browse through certified language trainer resumes and select a tutor, schedule Skype sessions and pay using the site’s virtual currency, called ITC ($1 = 10 ITC).
Alternatively, you can go for informal tutoring and browse through the profiles of German speakers with varying degrees of experience who are interested in tutoring. There is also an instant tutoring option, and you can also freely share your German language writing with the italki community for feedback.
You must purchase ITC with your hard earned dollars before you begin, but you will not be charged for sessions before they are completed and you have indicated that you are satisfied with them. Prices vary, but tutors charge $15-20 per hour on average.
The German Online Institute offers lessons seven days a week, between 7AM and 11PM, Germany time. The site’s qualified German teachers develop a course schedule to suit your needs and provide all the necessary learning materials.
You can get a free trial lesson to test the waters. If you wish to continue, a standard 60-minute lesson is priced at €16-18 (EUR).
Verbalplanet allows you to choose a qualified native speaker located anywhere in the world to suit your scheduling needs. You can take a free trial lesson to see if the tutor is a good fit. Rates are $22 per hour or less, and there are loyalty discounts of up to 15% when you purchase multiple sessions.
The platform uses online analytics to help learners track their progress and identify weaknesses. Interactive lessons have a primary focus on speaking and achieving fluency.
This is yet another platform where tutors advertise their services and expertise. There are many tutors offering very competitive rates, even under $10 per hour, hailing from many different countries.
One interesting feature of the site is that you can connect with other German learners and create a profile for yourself, describing your background and learning goals, so that both tutors and students can contact you.
9. Post an ad for freelancers
There are millions of freelancers looking for job opportunities there, and their profiles are complete with qualifications and feedback from previous clients. You can set your own budget, schedule and learning goals for a chance of finding the ideal German tutor for your specific needs.
10. Post a job on the American Association of Teachers of German website
Posting your tutoring needs in the shape of a job opening on the AATG website gives you instant access to hundreds of reputable, certified German teachers, many of whom are both experienced and available for online tutoring sessions.
There is no real secret to it. Reaping the benefits of tutoring is simple!
Use the above resources to find a great tutor online, explain your goals clearly, meet regularly and do your homework.
You will be surprised by the amount progress you can make in only a few weeks.
And One More Thing…
Supplement your German tutoring with fun and authentic material through FluentU!
You’ll get to learn German with content that native German speakers actually watch on the regular. We’ve got everything from Volkswagen commercials to funny YouTube videos, scenes from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the hit song “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”
Just a quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content available:
Love the idea of watching fun, authentic videos, but worried about understanding them well enough? FluentU brings native videos within reach with its interactive subtitles.
While watching your chosen videos, you can tap on any subtitled word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used by modern natives. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can simply tap “add” to save it to your vocab list.
As you can see, FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a unique language learning program designed to get you to total German mastery, complete with active learning tools like vocabulary lists, multimedia flashcards and more.
Even the flashcards have something special to offer learners—they integrate video clips, imagery and audio to create rich, memorable learning experiences and help you retain German vocabulary better than ever.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of your progress and recommends relevant content based on what you’ve already learned.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.