I started Juliane’s A1 course as a complete beginner. I must admit that my expectations for learning German through a video course were low. German is my third foreign language, so I know how much effort and time it takes to get through the beginners’ stage and reach a relative fluency. In addition, I had doubts about the effectiveness of a video course, because obviously one cannot ask questions in real-time. But I decided to give it a try, mainly because I have to fit my language studies around a very busy work and family schedule and cannot commit to a real class.
Having completed Juliane’s A1 course, I want to say upfront that doing her course is better than having a real teacher!! I think she has created a totally unique language course. On the one hand, the video format of the course allowed me to watch it at any time of the day (usually 5-7am for me) and to watch any video and listen to the explanations as many times as needed, not just once or twice as in a real class. On the other hand, Juliane has found the way to fully counter the disadvantages of the video format by creating an interactive course, whereby she plays a dialogue or shows a sentence with gaps and then she makes a pause requesting a listener to make up an answer, say it aloud, and then check it versus her version a few seconds later. This means that one has to be an active participant, rather than a passive listener, in every lesson she teaches, like in a one-to-one session.
The fact that one cannot ask questions in real-time is actually an advantage, as I have discovered, because it prevents you from wandering off during the lesson. (When I learned my second foreign language, I took some one-to-one lessons, and I remember this happened very often and resulted in much time-wasting.) Of course, I had questions after watching some of Juliane’s videos, sometimes a lot of questions, so I emailed Juliane all of my questions. And I have to say that her commitment as a teacher is truly exemplary! She replied to every single question very promptly, and every time with a thorough explanation, whether on a difficult grammar point or some vocabulary question. And again, because her answer was in writing, I could read it over and over again, as well as write it down in my notebook. Another big advantage versus a real-time class!
With regard to the contents of Juliane’s A1 course, it is utterly amazing how much I learned with her in just a few weeks… First of all, I want to mention that after I had completed Juliane’s course, I watched another German video language course for beginners, branded as a “complete course for serious learners.” It was a joke… The author has simply put together a few standard paragraphs, with very patchy and incomplete explanations of the basic grammar and yet with quite an advanced vocabulary. A really surprising part was that the author finished each video by saying “… and now you are fully equipped to order food at a restaurant, hunt for an apartment in Germany” and so on.
Juliane’s approach is completely different. She builds the learner’s understanding gradually, step-by-step by teaching not only an extensive vocabulary, but also the grammar right from the very start, from Lesson 1. Moreover, she returns and reviews each grammar point through interactive exercises and additional explanations in later videos, introducing further subtleties of the language or expanding on her initial explanation. This regular repetition is really important, as it allows to do more exercises, clarify any misunderstanding, and simply practice creating grammatically correct sentences. Juliane makes a very good use of creative diagrams and colourful, catchy images in order to draw on the visual memory. For example, in Part 3/Video 44, there is a great diagram on two-way prepositions, which really helped me to understand and retain this difficult point of the German grammar. It is also very helpful to see all of the sentences on the screen. Even though Juliane speaks very clearly and slowly, taking special care to articulate some difficult words, seeing helps to memorise a new vocabulary much more quickly.
Another great feature of Juliane’s course is that all of the videos are short and digestible, so there is a sense of accomplishment after each lesson. And because her videos are so interesting, touching on various real-life topics, I was always curious about the next lesson and would often take a quick peek. I really doubt I would be able to motivate myself to get up at 5am to do my studies had this course not been so engaging!
One final point, really essential for me, was Juliane’s cheerful and reassuring attitude. It really helped me not to despair over some difficult points and carry on. I strongly recommend taking detailed notes when doing the course and choosing time when you can concentrate and do interactive exercises. It is NOT possible to watch Juliane’s videos and do something else at the same time. When I started, I watched the first few videos without taking notes but quickly realised that it was a wrong approach, because as mentioned, Juliane reviews each grammar point in subsequent videos, sometimes in several videos, so taking notes helps to keep track of the entire trail of her very detailed explanations.
To sum up, Juliane’s course is for those who are really committed to reaching a good level of proficiency in German and are willing to work hard on her intense course. I am very happy that she plans to continue making A2 and B1 videos. Having done the A1 course, I am fully confident that Juliane’s guidance and commitment to her students will help me reach my objectives. Thanks so much, Juliane! You are a very special teacher, and you have created a very special language course!!