June 2005 issue

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One-to-one in Germany

Many language teaching institutions in Germany can cater for the very specific demands of executives requiring specialised one-to-one tuition. We profile a range of courses available and find out more about what schools offer.

High-powered business people may not like to make mistakes in front of their colleagues or contemporaries and for this reason, private individualised one-to-one tuition is preferred by many. In Germany, Anke Guter at S&W Training in Meersburg am Bodensee relates, "Top executives like to keep their 'weak moments' to themselves", and she also explains that another reason one-to-one tuition is preferred is that time "is always a precious resource [among clients], and people do not want to spend their time listening to other people's mistakes and weaknesses".

Other business language training providers observe a different trend among their clientele. Some schools relate that a combination of one-to-one lessons and small group classes is sometimes preferred, particularly by beginners, but Doris van de Sand at ISK Muenchen points out that the two types of training can be quite different. "A different approach and methodology is needed for one-to-one training," she says. "However, in many countries, one-to-one is commonly regarded as a group course with one participant, and the teachers are often supply teachers."

Margit Michel, a teacher who offers individual lessons under the Deutsch Individuell umbrella, agrees with this point. "Requirements of executives are more particular," she says. "The teaching method should be more interactive, the trainer should be more a moderator than a 'teacher'."

One-to-one tuition has become a far more convenient way of learning a language - as well as a more effective method - since workloads and busy timetables mean lessons can be slotted in around other commitments. Sabine Steinacher at Augsburger Deutschkurse in Augsburg relates that the school offers tuition to new employees in a local company in the evenings, very early in the mornings or on Saturdays. Dorothee Robrecht at GLS Sprachenzentrum in Berlin adds that she has noticed more demand for tuition "at weekends for those who can only spare a couple of days and want to get ready for a presentation or a meeting".

Having the focus of a teacher on an individual level, or even in a small specialised group, means that language acquisition can occur at a faster rate than in a normal class. At Aktiv Sprachschulungen in Rastatt near the Black Forest, Beate Günter observes that, depending on the client's learning experience, linguistic capabilities, age and mother tongue, language acquisition can be up to three times faster than average.

Hans-Georg Albers at Carl Duisberg Centren makes the point that many clients do not want to learn the language per se but to train in specific skills, such as telephoning or negotiating. All schools personalise a course to fit the client's wishes. Eva Göbl at International House Freiburg says, "We receive information beforehand so that we can prepare specific topics, grammar, vocabulary, etc."

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