Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Do you ever feel like you have a lot to say, but your true personality doesn't shine through due to weaknesses in your English skills? I felt this way when I was living in Germany and trying to express myself in German.
My Personal Experience
If you know me, you know that I’m a talkative person, but you would NOT have known that if you had met me in Germany. I acted shy and reserved. That’s because I was too afraid to use the language that I had been studying for years. My solution was to hang out with Americans and Brits so that I could speak as little German as possible.
But there were consequences to that.
I felt disappointed in myself. I didn’t feel right speaking English all day. Nor did I feel right attempting to express my true self in German. I came back to America feeling like a failure. Fourteen years after my return (yes, 14 years!), I decided to remedy this. I hired a private German teacher, and we met each week for about a year to work on my German conversation skills. Guess what? I absolutely loved it.
Why Working with a Private Coach or Teacher Worked for Me
First of all, with a private teacher I had someone who fully supported me on my language journey. Because of her support, I felt comfortable making mistakes, asking questions, and receiving valuable feedback. I was allowed to be curious (instead of feeling like I needed to be perfect).
Next, she saw my "blind spots." Blind spots are those areas that you can't see yourself because you are too close to the situation. I had no idea that I was pronouncing the German letter "e" incorrectly! I'd been pronouncing it that way for two decades. It was definitely a blind spot for me, and she helped me to uncover many more.
In addition, I loved the challenge of expressing myself in a constant one-on-one conversation. No textbook or app can replicate the natural rhythm of real conversation. I had to "think on my feet" and speak spontaneously. That was fun and exciting for me.
Needless to say, having someone who was completely focused on me and my language learning for just an hour each week improved my speaking and my confidence immensely. After my time with a private language teacher, I was even able to land a position teaching German at a community college!
Can you relate to this?
If you can, I would love to hear more about your experience. Maybe you have worked one-on-one with an expert or have tried to master a skill on your own. There is not a right or wrong way. But I have learned that hiring someone to help you with a skill that you are struggling with is one of the best investments you can make in yourself.