You may have asked yourself this question recently: Should I learn German from a native speaker? Does this matter? And that is a really good question. The answer is actually fairly simple, and it goes like this. It depends on whether you are a complete beginner or more intermediate to advanced.
Spoiler alert!!! We definitely feel that learning from another person, whether formally in a classroom, online through SKYPE or even with a local language group, is the best way to acquire another language… not just German.
But let’s get back to the original question. Does learning from a native speaker make a difference? At CORE, our recommendation is that if you are currently able to hold a basic conversation in German, then YES. Your teacher should be a native speaker or be at a native speaking proficiency level. Why? A lot of it has to do with nuances in the language. These nuances in slang, colloquialisms, idioms, etc. take years to master. This is especially important in German, where word choice becomes a larger part of what is correct and incorrect. If you learn some basic German from a native speaker, they will be able to explain these intricacies easier. If you are starting at zero knowledge of German, a non-native speaker for a teacher can suffice for the beginning stages, but once you are able to start holding basic conversations, you will need to seek out a native or near native speaker as you continue to build fluency.
Ok, so what if you are a beginner? Well, believe it or not, we might recommend that you learn from someone who has recently gone through what you are going through, but has mastered all of the basic concepts and can clearly explain it… A native speaker may know what is right and what is wrong, but will they know why?
Let’s look at an example in English.
I saw the Statue of Liberty. I have seen the Statue of Liberty.
So, what is the difference? If you are an English Instructor, this will be a regular question, especially if your student is a native German speaker! Let’s now look at a good German example.
Ich bin in dem Zimmer. Ich gehe in dem Zimmer herum. Ich gehe in das Zimmer.
Will a native speaker be able to explain the grammatical nuances from these examples? Some might! But that takes training and practice. If you are intermediate to advanced, yes. You want a native speaker as an instructor. If you are just starting out though, you should make sure that your instructor is good at explaining grammar!