To everyone who took German classes...
Has anyone here any experience with "Berlitz Sprachschulen" for learning German? I'm thinking about applying for a job there as a German teacher, and I wanted to hear some opinions from students first. So if you happen to have some information to share about them, I'm happy to hear about it. If you took a class there, did you have a nice learning experience? Did you learn as much as you wanted? Did their method work for you? Does it hold up to Duolingo? ;) If you thought about taking a class but didn't, what put you off?
I'm sorry if this is a little off topic, but I can't let the chance slip to have a large audience of foreign German learners I can address. I know that many of you use several different sources and take different approaches to learning German, so maybe there's one or two of you who tried this school and can tell me about your experiences. You don't have to sing praises, I'm interested in some honest opinions here.
I have experience with Berlitz learning French (as a native German speaker). I was an absolute beginner, i.e. I only knew a couple of words and could not possibly string a sentence together. The course was offered to me through work before I had discovered Duolingo. Initially I could not imagine how the Berlitz method would work, i.e. learning French through French, when I didn't have any French to begin with. Also, it had been many years since I last studied languages in school. I had always perceived myself as a "visual" person, as someone, who absorbs information much better through reading than listening. And I like structures and formulas, hence never had a real problem with grammar. So I was hugely doubtful as regards the intuitive method of language learning for adults. But it actually worked! I'm amazed as to how much I learned and more importantly, how much of that I retained. I think Berlitz or a similar speaking focussed method complements Duolingo perfectly. Duolingo is very weak on training speech and listening comprehension and Berlitz can fill that gap. EDIT: This is not an ad for Berlitz and I am not affiliated to that company in any way. I'm relating my personal experience in response to the OP's question.
Thank you! I'm also a person who likes her tables and grammar references, so I'm a little wary about the "just talk" approach. Your experience really helps me a lot, I guess I should give it a try.
What kind of yourse did you take, was it every day for a few weeks?
We were initially a group of three students for Berlitz level 1 and 2. Two lessons per week of 90 mins. each took nearly a year. After a year break two of us recommenced at level 3 with a different teacher which again took nearly a year (with two lessons per week). Following this we had a three year break before embarking on level 4 (again different teacher) and which again took one year to complete albeit with only one lesson per week. We've now just started level 5. Sometime before starting level 4 I had discovered Duolingo.
Our first teacher at beginners' level stuck to the Berlitz method. This for example involved a picture book on her part including story boards and us posing and answering questions like "Où est le stylo bleu?" "Le stylo bleu est là". This would then be repeated over and over with different objects (just one example). The present teacher deviates somewhat from the Berlitz method and teaches grammar the "old fashioned way". Of couse we've also progressed considerably from "le stylo". The language classes would have been much more benefitial without the long gaps in between but this was due to the training budget of the company I work for. Languages are not top of the list. I would also recommend a minimum of two classes per week for effective learning.
I've studied Berlitz manuals 1, 3 and 4 in classes with about 6 other students. Classes were held twice a week and lasted about 2 hours each. At the end of manual 4 one is supposed to be at level A2. Having completed the material I don't think I could pass a level A2 exam. The Berlitz method provides lots of speaking practice but not much writing, reading or grammar. When I studied book 1, I was in a class with some absolute beginners and they were lost. The other students didn't do much homework so progress was very slow and the Berlitz method didn't really work. Afterwards I moved to a different class where the students were more motivated and we were able to have actual conversations and the Berlitz method worked well for us. Good luck if you apply for a job.
Thank you! It's a great help to have an idea if what I'm supposed to teach will actually work. So thank you for telling about your experiences.
I taught English at Berlitz for a year. I would recommend the company neither to potential students nor to potential teachers.
The effectiveness of the Berlitz "method" consists merely of constant oral repetition. This does benefit language acquisition, but modern technology offers a far better alternative.
Before I started to teach; we were sent on a two-week "training" course, which was a waste of time. Neither grammar acquisition nor lesson structure (eg test/teach/test) were taught.
I am neither saying that attending a course nor teaching there would be a waste of time, but keep in mind that their "method" is useless, and whatever effective language acquisition occurs, occurs only because of the prior skill of the particular teacher.
Thank you. Frankly, that's exactly what was bothering me about the description of their method. I'm not sure I could teach with a method that doesn't convince me be to be effective.
When you were teaching, could you additionally explain some grammar in between, or would you have to stick to their method all the time? How much freedom do you have in structuring your lessons?
Grammar explanation is part of the syllabus. So for example at Level 1 one covers the Simple Present, then the Present Continuous at the next level, and the Present Perfect is introduced at Level 4.
The problems were two-fold. First, one is allotted very little time to cover the topics, because the emphasis was on rushing people through to the higher levels. One is expected to spend the same amount of time, for example, explaining the Present Perfect as one spends on the any/some distinction. Second, no grammar exercises were provided, one simply had to create "scenarios" for students to use to practise the grammar orally, with little to no time for correction and consolidation.
One other problem with the Berlitz approach is that each class was split between three to four teachers. Invariably two of the teachers would be hopeless with grammar and would either not teach it or teach it incorrectly, which would result in very demoralised students.
The question of freedom of lesson structure was a very political one: officially one had to stick rigidly to the lesson plans and method, but because the material was utterly awful, every teacher ended up using material from other and better books. It was a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
I should add that all of the above applies to English, which constitutes the bulk of Berlitz's work. They may well be more lax with other languages which bring in less revenue. For example, we had one lone French teacher at our site, and because the site leader spoke no French, the French teacher had carte blanche to do as she pleased.