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Expat in Germany: Intensive German Course, Stuttgart: Part 4

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Intensive German Course, Stuttgart: Part 4

My Intensive German Course, Stuttgart continues to be interesting and our class is clearly irritating our teacher.  Today, she had an outright temper tantrum when someone asked her to explain the difference between "kennen" and "weissen" (both mean to know, but you have to know (pun intended) when to use each one), crumpled up the work sheet, threw it in the garbage and told us we had the option of not doing this verb, even though it is very important and  "very easy, but if we didn't think we were smart enough to do it then we didn't have to do it and would end up speaking poor German."   Note, she said all this in German so this is the gist of what she said, not word for word.  Now thoroughly embarrassed that we weren't getting something so "easy", we all meekly agreed to continue, and then each of us proceeded to get every question wrong.  Despite how apparent it was most of the class was struggling with this she simply moved on to a new exercise - no explanation provided and no one brave enough to admit they still didn't understand after her previous tongue lashing in our Intensive German Course.  

 One student in my Intensive German Course is going to call the school and complain.  This is not the first time he has complained but the last time he did this we were read the riot act for getting her in trouble with the school's administration and punished with two hours of homework with the thinly veiled excuse that we needed more homework since we were not "getting it".  I'm predicting a repeat episode tomorrow in our Intensive German Course.  

I haven't been in Germany for that long and am really trying to adjust to the German style of teaching in my Intensive German Course, but I must admit after working in adult education in Canada where we focused on creating a learning environment where everyone felt safe and there was no such thing as a stupid question, I'm struggling with her teaching style.  At worst it could be described as "temperamental, impatient and unresponsive." In fairness to her, she does make the class interactive and provides a variety of exercise which is a good thing.  We have some very well educated people in our class - a doctor, an engineer, a guy who is trilingual already....." and I have a hard time believing that we're all as "slow" as she keeps insisting we are.  Looking on the bright side, I can't say that I ever have to worry about falling asleep in my Intensive German Course :).
 See also:
Intensive German Course, Stuttgart:  Part 5
Intensive German Course, Stuttgart:  Part 3
Intensive German Course, Stuttgart:  Part 2
Intensive German Course, Stuttgart:  Part 1
German Vocab That Makes My Life Easier

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15 Comments:

At September 22, 2010 at 10:51 AM , OpenID wonkham said...

Hi, Stuttgartgirl! I'm following your adventures in Germany and I'm curious about the German course you're taking. What kind of school are you attending? Is it a Volkshochschule, a Goethe Institut, another private language school? I'm asking because I find it quite shocking that the teacher keeps calling you slow and not-smart-enough in a course you're probably paying for. I didn't experience such behaviour from my German teachers so far...

 
At September 22, 2010 at 11:24 AM , Blogger Stuttgartgirl said...

I'm attending a private school. I don't think the teacher means to insult us, I think she thinks she is just being direct, and doesn't realize that she is offending 9 other nationalities. Cultural differences at their best. My German fiance says she is just "being German" and doesn't find any of this insulting. Glad to hear that you haven't experienced anything like this so far. Hope your German is going well!

 
At September 22, 2010 at 3:27 PM , Anonymous Riayn said...

I can't believe her reaction to someone asking for further clarification. I would want my students to understand what situation requires the use of which word, not punish them for asking.
She sounds kinda unstable.

 
At September 22, 2010 at 4:59 PM , Blogger MissEmy said...

Oh my, she doesn't sound very nice. Teachers can play a huge part in liking a class or not. :P

 
At September 22, 2010 at 6:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you feel bad about your lack of proficiency in German, you might want to think about how some of us Germans feel when we speak English.

As an example, when I was an exchange student in the USA, I once told my teacher that I was upset that she was 'cheating on me'.

I intended to say that she 'cheated me' because I had made a minor mistake regarding something I don't recall which reduced my grade, but I guess you can imagine my embarrassment after the whole class started laughing and especially once people explained the difference.

 
At September 22, 2010 at 10:28 PM , Anonymous Michelle said...

Well, I have taken a lot of German classes - private tutors, Inlingua and Goethe Institut - I have never had a teacher respond that way to a difficult point that the class is struggling with. Usually if they can't make a connection on a topic after a significant effort, they will take a time out on the topic (for them and for us) and come back to it in the next class after some time to think about another way to approach it. That seems to do the trick. So I wouldn't say that is the typical German style of teaching based on anything I have seen so far.

 
At September 23, 2010 at 5:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that's typical German, more typical bad teaching style. To tell pupils they are slow and stupid is insulting and bad form, even in Germany.

 
At September 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As has been said, this kind of teaching style is far from typical. I personally know several people who teach German to foreigners, and I can't imagine any of them throwing a tantrum in class, especially if it's in response to a perfectly appropriate question.

 
At September 23, 2010 at 7:42 PM , Blogger Seh said...

Yikes! I can imagine teaching a language to people with all different native languages would be challenging, but her reaction sounds quite severe. I hope it gets better! How long do you have left in the course?

 
At September 27, 2010 at 2:24 AM , Blogger leah said...

reminds me of when i taught english in South Korea. Great blog post. taxi advertising

 
At September 27, 2010 at 4:29 AM , Blogger Frau Dietz said...

Ok seriously, "temperamental, impatient and unresponsive" is not a teaching style. What a cow. If you're not all understanding something it's because she's not explaining it properly. Good on your classmate for complaining, I vote you all do it: you shouldn't have to put up with being treated like that.

 
At September 27, 2010 at 8:06 AM , Blogger Kae Lani said...

Your blog is so helpful! I went to Germany for a study abroad and fell in love with an old friend of mine from high school (he was a german living in america at the time). Now, I am finishing up college and getting ready to, in the next few years, relocate myself. My main fear is the whole relocation part. But I am so happy to see that there are Americans like you who are able to do it!

 
At October 1, 2010 at 12:36 PM , Blogger Stuttgartgirl said...

Thanks so much for your comments everyone and I am very relieved to hear that this is not typical. This "teaching style" continues and so I, along with several other students have complained. To be continued next week in a new blog post.....

 
At October 4, 2010 at 8:41 AM , Anonymous An Asian said...

I certainly think it shouldn't be a typical German teaching style - not that I have attended many language classes in Germany (I think I had only managed two sessions while I was there, but the teacher is extremely kind and helpful), but some of my friends has been and they have never spoke of such terrible behaviour.

I have also had German classes in my current country of residence, and the teachers are all very kind and helpful, never seen them behave like this - mind you, I did feel quite intimidated by one of my more stern looking teachers, but it was really nothing that she did, it's just a pupil's natural reaction to stern teachers, I would say.

 
At October 4, 2010 at 8:56 AM , Blogger Stuttgartgirl said...

I'm glad that you've had good German teachers. Everyone learns better in an environment in which they feel comfortable in.

 

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