Should I take language classes or teach myself?
If you have the means, always opt for taking language classes BUT with a tutor. Taking group classes is only slightly better than trying to learn a language on your own.
Here’s why a tutor always beats self learning:
- Time is Money is Time
You will save a lot of time. A good tutor will provide you with suitable material and outline a learning structure that will spare you hours of searching and trial and error. Even if you think you’ve got plenty of time to spare, why would you want to waste it instead of making better use of it?
- You want to be Understood
It’s more efficient to start with right pronunciation than to try to fix it. When learning a language on your own you have very few possibilities to actually get feedback on your pronunciation. I have found and developed a few techniques which involve recording yourself but even then you better have someone professional keep an eye on it.
- Fixing Mistakes is Costly
A tutor will help you avoid elementary sentence structure and grammatical mistakes that are hard to fix once established. It might get clear slowly that fixing broken language takes a lot more effort than learning it correctly right from the beginning.
- Inefficient Learning Techniques
When on our own, you will most likely apply language learning techniques from your time at school. But those were most probably not efficient as they were aiming at a different aim than mastering a language for daily use and laid out for group learning. These techniques are usually not very refined and possibly might have just got you through school.
When learning any language, you will experience motivational lows and frustration. Left on your own, those are dangerous moments. You might decide that language learning is just not for you or you decide to “postpone” it for a while and start again after a few months. Stop and go costs a lot of energy and starting again gets harder and harder and finally you might simply give it up.
- You want it to last a Lifetime
When learning a language, you most likely want it to last until the end of your days. When you build a house with a weak base, it most likely won’t last long. The same is true for language learning. Make sure that the foundation of your language is strong. A good private tutor knows how to build such a foundation as she has years of experience and seen and analyzed hundreds of students. Unless you are an experienced self-learner already, you haven’t.
- Not Everyone is a Natural-born Self-Learner
there are difficulties with those who claim that everyone can learn a language on his or her own. That’s simply not the complete truth. Yes, it is relatively possible to learn a language to a basic level given enough time and basic learning skills. But I would estimate that the maximum level most of us would achieve without guidance is B which is a very basic and functional level. That means you will get by and possibly with some ease but you will never be able to fully express yourself on that level without further formal studies. Those among us, who reach A without any outside help are the absolute exception.
Don’t stress yourself, learning with a teacher is aided and easy to follow, structured that is easy on you. However, if you do not feel the pressure to do it all by yourself, by all means, go ahead!
Whatever you choose, I wish you all the very best!