True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross.”

This quote from the Greek writer Nikos Kazantsakis should give you some food for thought.

Have you decided to become a private German tutor and pass on your knowledge of how to speak German? If so, you now need to think about how you’ll find students for your German lessons.

Then you need to start thinking about your educational concerns like organising your German tutorials, teaching methods, and your student’s long-term goals, etc.

Every teacher has their own methods and you’ll need to find your own way to teach German as a second language.

However, there’s a lot of advice you should consider to help your students learn German better.

Just like the bridge metaphor, you’ll need to be reliable and work on strong foundations.

Don’t forget that your foundations aren’t just your language abilities, they’re also your teaching methodology.

While you’ll obviously need to have a passion for teaching, you also need to understand how to learn a new language.

Establish a List of Goals for Each Student

So you’ve decided to provide in-home tutorials. Whether you’re a full-time or doing part-time tutor jobs, student, or retired teacher, you need to find your own methodology that works for each of your German language tutorials.

Before you find students for your German tutorials, remind yourself that each student is different, has their own needs, and learns in their own way. This means that every German tutorial needs to be tailored to the student.

How do you tailor lessons to students?
The better you know your students, the better you can prepare your lessons. (Source: Tran Mau Tri Tam)

This is why you really need to get to know your student and be capable of deciding what their objectives will be.

  • Why did they decide to have German tutorials?
  • Are they studying a German degree or a proficient learner?
  • Are they catching up at school and need help with basic German grammar and vocabulary?
  • Do they have an upcoming German test on everyday German phrases?
  • Do they want to learn how to speak German like a native speaker and work towards German fluency?
  • What do they find difficult? Is it German vocabulary and learning new words?

Before they start, you’ll need to ask them all these questions since they’ll influence how you’ll teach. Each tutorial has to be customised. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to teaching.

After you’ve worked out their expectations and their objectives for their German tutorials, summarise them (in a table, for example) while taking their language level into account.

Make a note of each goal on this table and organise them in terms of priority in order to progress effectively.

Show your student this summary and agree on your joint objectives before you start teaching.

Prepare Each German Tutorial from the Ground Up

A teacher can’t show up to their student’s house without having prepared anything. While improv skills are useful when it comes to language learning, when it comes to providing private tutorials, you’ll need to plan something and have a long-term plan for your German course.

Establish each lesson’s outline: think about which language skills you’re going to work on with your student and what aspects of German they need to learn, etc.

How do you set your long-term goals for German tutorials?
How do you outline your tutorial goals? (Source: Shopify)

Don’t forget about German books, your old lessons, resources in German online, or even asking for help from bilinguals. This can help you to better organise your tutorials and even serve as inspiration for ideas that'll help your student learn to speak the language of Goethe.

Prepare the German exercises for your tutorials at home.

Create summary sheets for each German lesson and use them as a framework for constructing an entire German language course.

Don't forget that the German language has a number of grammatical rules that are followed very strictly. This can be hugely beneficial as you don't need to go back to square one every time you create a new resource!

While it may seem like an insurmountable challenge at the beginning, you’ll quickly see there’s nothing to worry about once your students starts to learn to speak German.

While each student is different, the rules of German are always the same. This means you can keep summary sheets for other lessons if you know they'll work with a student.

Don't forget to check out out for advice on how best to set your rates.

Explain What’s Going to Happen in Each Tutorial

Before each German tutorial, explain to your student what you’re going to cover in the tutorial.

You have to be able to explicitly explain each tutorial’s objectives and the activities you’re going to do.

This will help them understand what they need to be working on and help them to progress. Involving the student in their own learning process can be very beneficial.

Sometimes a student won’t be taking German tutorials of their own accord. Their parents, for example, may have taken the decision for them despite their reluctance. If this is the case, you should take it as a challenge!

How do I motivate my German students?
Using interesting German resources to motivate your students isn't the wurst idea in the world. (Source: Dave Meier)

Show the students the benefits that learning German will bring them in their future academic and professional lives. Pique their interest and get them involved!

To do so, the first 5 minutes of their tutorials should be dedicated to the running order. It’s fundamental to get the student involved in their tutorials before starting their first activity.

Distance Yourself from the School

A tutor providing academic support isn’t the same as a teacher working as part of the national education system.

Keep that in mind when deciding upon the educational approach you’re going to adopt with your student.

Bring an element of fun (and culture) to every lesson you teach them.

School can sometimes be a bit of a bore, especially for students who are failing. Make sure your German tutorials don’t fall into the same category.

Your tutorials will be more engaging if you head off the beaten path.

Where can I find German language resources?
Varying your resources can make your tutorials more interesting. (Source: Markus Spiske)

Think of ideas that will captivate your students and make learning German more fun! Show them German films to watch and German songs to listen to.

Why not show them German YouTube videos on other subjects that they’re interested in and bring them German newspaper articles?

Once you’ve established a teaching method that works, almost anything goes when it comes to learning German.

Encourage Your Student to Push Themselves

To get the most out of your students, you need to make sure they’re involved in their own learning once their tutorial's finished.

Make sure they realise that learning German is an ongoing progress that doesn’t stop when their tutorial does.

Give them advice on how to brush up on what they learnt during their tutorials at the end of each session.

Above all, give them activities to do for the next tutorial. These activities have to be related to what they were studying, of course.

This means they can study on their own and assimilate everything covered during their tutorials.

Make sure they bring German culture into their everyday lives. A foreign language can become an integral part of your life. You’ll have learnt this when you studied to become a German tutor.

That’s why you also need to be supplementing your learning with grammar practice when you’re not speaking the language.

When you learn a language, you also learn about its speakers, the history of the countries where its spoken, etc. This can make you want to travel to these places on holiday, study there, or take part in a language stay.

To learn German quickly, these might be some of the best options.

In any case, once you’ve adopted a less “academic” approach to learning, you’ll quickly see some progress, especially when it comes to listening and speaking.

Provide a Summary After Each Session

When teaching a student a language, you need to show them their progress.

As their teacher, you’re in the best position to evaluate their progress. After each course, you can give them a summary.

This summary, which you can send by email, needs to mention a few things:

Firstly, you need to mention the skills learnt during the lesson.

How can you teach German students about culture?
Discover German countries and their cultures through German courses. (Source: Olivier Miche)

For example, if you were working on declension, you need to mention that first and whether they understood this point or need to return to it next lesson.

You should make a note of the activities used and the results of them. You can also mention what the student can be working on outside of class.

Finally, don’t hesitate to mention all the progress they’ve made and the positives that came out of each German tutorial. You have to provide positive feedback if you want to encourage them to learn.

Now that you’re providing quality German tutorials, you just need to let word of mouth do the rest. A student that's happy with their German tutor is very quick to recommend you to other people.

Learn about the qualifications you need to start German tutor jobs.

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.