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 spea