1. What is your teaching style?
I favour a pragmatic approach of immersion: I speak German most of the time from the very beginning and resort to English if I consider it helpful and the students agree, for example when discussing grammar.
I believe making oneself understood (with or without mistakes) for the first time is a huge achievement and deserves praise. I correct level-appropriately, as pointing out every mistake and relentless correction can kill motivation. I do not brush aside questions nor do I belittle students with exclamations like: “Oh, but this is obvious!” I want my pupils to feel safe to ask any questions and voice any doubts. My classroom is meant to be a sorry-free zone, a place to explore and discover, wonder and marvel.
Creative elements are stimulating and liven up the lessons. I know plenty of communication games, I have used songs to facilitate learning prepositions and asked the pupils to draw words they were struggling to remember. I use a wide range of creative means, cards, games, dice, pictures, sheets and books to make the lessons as resourceful and entertaining as possible. Plastic figures are a helpful tool to visualise certain aspects of grammar. I am very fond of mnemonics (with anecdotes, dismantling words and looking at their meaning or pointing out words within words to facilitate memorization etc.)
What comes most natural to me is to put an emphasis on speaking and to look at grammatical aspects when they arise during the conversation. But as I offer tailor-made lessons with a focus on the student’s preferences, I also adhere to different approaches. If a student needs to feel confident before daring to say something or if they like to be prepared, I can send them the material before the lesson. If someone is highly structured, they might want to follow a book closely, etc.
2. What are your areas of expertise?
I teach German as a Second Language and Swiss German to adult students with the most diverse backgrounds and levels which range from A1 to C1.
I assist in general progress and flow of speech as well as in exam preparation. Informal formats like reading easy German books or playing communicative games are offered also.
3. What are your favourite bits of teaching German
Conversation, grammar, Swiss German, games, and mnemonics.
4. What do you like best about your work?
- My students, being able to make a living in a field I adore, and freelancing.
- I get to meet adventurous, engaged people with very interesting biographies. Thanks to my international students I can welcome the whole world in my classroom.
Teaching German as a Second Language – individually, tailormade, and resourceful – is my profession and my passion at the same time, and I am very privileged to be able to do what I love. I feel confident and at ease when I teach and enjoy my role as language acquisition assistant tremendously. As I am truly passionate about language and teaching, it gives me great joy to put my knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm to good use.
Freelancing is perfect for me because it gives me the chance to be adaptive, flexible and versatile. When students voice ideas or wishes in regards to German it is a win-win situation: I can teach more directly to their interests and learning style which makes progress happen more easily and quickly. As for me, it helps me discover new teaching approaches and to grow as a teacher.
5. How are your prices made up?
Language classes are a costly investment, no doubt, and a mere few lessons are usually not enough, which makes the expense even more substantial. What makes me set my prices is expertise, experience, and exclusivity.
1.) Expertise: For my PhD I completed a doctoral study after finishing my masters. Hence, I have dedicated well over a decade of my life to become an expert on the German language.
2.) Experience: I have complemented my theoretical knowledge with extensive teaching: I have been teaching for 13 years, giving thousands of lessons and reading hundreds of books on the subject of German. All of this has been very valuable in me gaining experience and refining my teaching.
3.) Exclusivity: I give my whole knowledge and passion for German and teaching to one single person or a small group of people at a time.
6. What kind of lesson formats do you offer?
Conversation, reading, listening, writing, playing communication games, any combinations of these 5 areas, and exam preparation (A1-B2).
Lessons are primarily individual but can be small groups when requested.
Conversation: We engage in chatting and discussions. The topics can be spontaneous or prompted by conversation cards, pro and con questions, quotes, films, books, the news, etc. We focus on speaking and look at grammatical aspects when they come up during the conversation. There are no worksheets, workbooks or course books in class (except for homework correction).
Reading: We read and discuss newspaper articles, articles from textbooks, short stories and/or easy reader books and work on them from different angles. This may include role play, character analysis, and inventing new plots or twists.
Listening: We listen to audio exercises, radio programmes or watch films (on a laptop) and discuss new words and structures as well as content. This gives you access to a wide range of topics and increases your vocabulary so that you can participate in a wide range of conversations. By engaging in role play you can complement passive understanding with active usage.
Writing: Write letters, stories, dialogues, papers, job applications, instructions, etc. at home and/or in class. By correcting them with me, we cover vocabulary, structures, grammar, style, collocation, and cohesion.
Playing communicative games: Engage in communicative games in German and improve your speaking with board games, card games, word games, role play and story cubes. We focus on speaking and look at grammatical aspects when they come up during play. There are no worksheets, workbooks or course books in class (except for homework correction).
Exam preparation (A1-B2): Pursue your linguistic goals in comprehensive lessons with all relevant aspects of language acquisition to get you ready for an exam: speaking, listening, reading and writing. I am pleased to say my students have had a 100% success rate since I began offering exam preparation in 2018.
7. What class sizes do you offer?
I mainly teach private students. Private lessons are always tailored. By tending to the students’ wishes and needs, I facilitate progress because it happens faster and on a deeper level if personal interest is involved.
Small groups up to four participants are also possible. Groups form themselves and approach me, there are no groups to join. The more alike the students are in level, the easier it is for everyone to draw a benefit and for me to do justice to every participant.
8. What do the standard and premium packages include?
- preparation, implementation and follow up of the lessons as well as up to 3 sheets or pages of homework. (1 mock exam or consecutive double pages count as 1 sheet because it goes in one go.)
- preparation, implementation and follow up of the lessons as well as up to 7 sheets or pages of homework. (1 mock exam or consecutive double pages count as 1 sheet because it goes in one go.)
- 15 online minutes per week between lessons to ask me questions about homework or other topics to do with German or to practise speaking in German.
- 15 minutes per week between lessons where I correct your German texts on topics of your choosing or my suggesting.
- no participation fees for games nights, theme nights, and German brunches.
- All things are optional, nothing is required. The student has the power to utilise as much or little as they wish.
Both packages: Independent Self-Study
- If a student wants to embark on autonomous ways of self-study, I am happy to suggest useful course- and workbooks, TV-series, books or radio programmes during the lessons. The student can work on these suggestions independently and/or ask me questions or write summaries which we correct and discuss in class. Homework sheets can be added on a per page basis.
9. How many lessons will it take me to complete 1 level of German as a Foreign Language?
- There is no typical number of lessons, as it depends on many factors like mother tongue, effort, homework yes or no, number of weekly lessons, motivation, educational background, etc.
- Standardised group lessons of students with heterogeneous backgrounds, ability, etc. estimate 60 hours per level, but I am used to private students who are fast learners with great focus as well as effective incorporation and conversion of the learning matter and who tend to finish levels considerably faster than this.
- No matter how brilliant the student is, language acquisition takes time. It is one thing to memorise grammar but to be able to use it is quite another. It is important to practise and “swallow” and “digest” the theory. It is not enough if I “feed” the student what they need to know, they need to be able to put it to practice and retrieve it to gain confidence. Boosting fluency and vocabulary works best by practising speaking which is time-consuming.
10. Do you teach children?
No, I do not.
11. Do you teach at a student’s place or office?
- No, I do not. Lessons take place in my classroom at Maneggpromenade 80 in 8041 Zürich.
12. Do you teach Swiss German?
With great pleasure. I speak the variety of Zürich.
13. What are your teaching days?
Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Exceptions on other days are possible from time to time but I only sell a package if my standard teaching days match with your preferences.
14. Do you teach online?
Lessons on Skype are possible occasionally (maximum 1 in 4 lessons) when need arises due to meetings, appointments, holidays, feeling unwell, etc. but I do not sell online packages.
15. Is it possible to join a group?
I do not facilitate groups. However, I will work with pre-formed groups.
Please keep in mind, the more alike the students are in language level, the easier it is for everyone to draw a benefit and for me to do justice to every participant.
16. Are you an official language school?
Yes, Sprachkunst Fabienne Müller is recognised by the SVA, the Swiss Social Security Administration. Students with Swiss Citizenship can deduce the costs of the German classes from their taxes.
17. Where can I park my car?
The street in front of the house is full of blue zone parking spaces where you can park (provided you have got a blue zone parking card). If they happened to be all taken (which would be the first time in 2 years): The cemetery is 6 minutes away on foot and has parking also.