Well, there is no simple answer to this question, as basically your requirements, flexibility and the type of learner you are, all play an important part in your decision making process. I think you should take all the factors below into consideration before paying for a language course, or start taking individual lessons.
For an excellent look at this topic, please read Abroad Languages’ Group Courses vs. One-to-One: Which Will Help You Learn Languages Faster?
In this article learners are encouraged to carefully consider all pros and cons and decide on the course they think they will enjoy most. ‘After all, if you are having fun, it will be easier to learn and improve your languages skills.’
Learning Hungarian in a group setting
Group lessons can be very interactive and interesting and my opinion is that in a group setting your Hungarian teacher/tutor will usually have lots of opportunities to deliver a fun lesson. With more learners there can also be interaction between the students as well as with the tutor.
Also, please do not underestimate the power of learning from other non-native speakers. Although this short article is about learning Hungarian, similar considerations apply to learning any language in a group setting.
In his well-researched and very informative article, ‘Foreign Language Study: A Language Learning System’, Jeff Blum says he attended a conversation club at a local bar whilst travelling in Latin America. Jeff found that it was very useful to notice the mistakes others made and reflect on whether or not he was making those same mistakes. Lots of research prove that reflection is a very important part of the learning process, so whether you attend a conversation club, or taking lessons in a group setting, reflecting on other learners’ mistakes and phrases used can be extremely useful.
Group courses are offered in various levels from beginner to advanced, and I think it is extremely important that when you are looking to start taking group lessons in Hungarian, you find a group where the level closely matches your existing level of Hungarian. If you are miles ahead of the rest of the learners in your group then inevitably you will be bored and wasting your time and money. If, however, you are a little bit behind the rest of the group, but you do have the time and dedication to study and work hard then this can actually turn out an advantage: a friendly group can provide an added incentive and ‘pulling power’ to individual learners who are lagging a little bit behind. On the other hand, you need to be careful that this gap between yourself and your classmates is not too big; if the gap is too big, then you might struggle keeping up with the group. If, for example, you are an intermediate learner of Hungarian who has previously studied Hungarian grammar explained in English only, then attending an advanced group where explanations are delivered in Hungarian might mean a lot of the explanation will go over your head.
Also, in a group your Hungarian teacher/tutor won’t always necessarily have the time to deal with your individual questions. Remember: the more people are in a group the least time each person can get.
One more thing to keep in mind is that if you are planning lots of holidays or are susceptible to catching every outbreak of flu then you might miss a lot of lessons; for of course the group won’t be waiting for you. Whilst if you are taking one-to-one lessons, then your Hungarian tutor will hopefully be understanding and won’t charge for any lessons skipped provided that you gave sufficient notice in advance.
Private Hungarian lessons
Therefore if you have little spare time in your life, it might be a good idea to start taking one-to-one rather than group lessons. This way, you don’t have to share the time and attention with anyone else: in a one-to-one setting, it is about you and your progress, only.
I obviously can’t talk about other Hungarian tutors, but this is how one-to-one lessons at Hungarian Language Solutions work. Your first lesson is free as I feel it’s only fair that you can see what you get for your money before committing yourself. During the first lesson, as well as giving you a taster of the Hungarian language, we also use the opportunity to get to know you a bit better and find out a little about your goals.
Lessons are designed with you in mind: we think long and hard about what kind of learner you are (e.g. based on the 4MAT System there are four learning types: the ‘why’, the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and the ‘what if’ type. But more about this in a later post.). We also put a lot of time and thought into thinking about various ways to make lessons fun and effective. I, personally, love tutoring Hungarian so much that sometimes I wake up during the night and start thinking about what else I could do in the lessons, and how I could help a client’s progress.
Every learner is different so each lesson plan needs to reflect this. At Hungarian Language Solutions each lesson plan is customised to match your needs and we encourage you to be very vocal about your goals: we can help you the most if we know what your goals are and what you would like to get out of your lessons.
Whether you are having your lessons in person, or on Skype on the Internet, our lessons do not end once the 60-minute period is over. We are here to provide continuous support; so if you get stuck with anything, you are free to contact us with your questions during the period between lessons.
In general, we always treat clients the way we would like to be treated ourselves: with respect and lots of attention.
This is clearly important when learning any language, not just Hungarian: you need to make sure you work with a tutor who takes the time to customise your lesson plans and provides all the support you need in order to maximise the advantage of the one-to-one lessons you are paying for.
So these are a few of the important points to take into consideration when deciding between group and one-to-one learning, and please don’t forget: whichever route you decide to go down, the important thing is that you enjoy the journey.