Britta Friedrich will make you want to start learning the German language, or go back to any language that you ever wanted to learn. We’re not talking about the type of language learning we did in high school/college where you can hardly order dinner or ask for directions in that language now. We’re talking speaking and immersion as the more interesting and much more effective way to learn how to communicate. I observed this first hand when I was an exchange student in New Zealand. I met dozens of students from around the world, some had a few years of English instruction and some had none, but all became fluent in a matter of months.
Britta has a wonderful philosophy on learning languages, and has reminded me to check out university in Germany as an option for my kids. She also has fantastic advice about starting a business which involves popcorn and a little Netflix. When you’re ready to start your lessons (or your kids are) please check out her offerings at magicgerman.net.
When did you start your business, and why did you create it?
In 2017, I started my journey to create “magicGerman”, a place for German language and cultural training. I had come to the realization that the common way of teaching a language was outdated and that there were new, more effective and fun methods, where speaking and immersion into the target language were the key points. At that time, I had been an educator for many years and felt that I wanted to explore these new methods and combine them with my own teaching style to create a unique learning environment for people who want to learn German.
In time, I offered special services to specific groups. For example, I often get contacted by people who want to learn German for business. My professional background is in business administration and hospitality and this enables me to help not only with the appropriate German vocabulary and phrases, but also I can provide insights into German business culture.
I also focus on helping young people, who want to take advantage of Germany’s tuition free university programs and therefore have to learn German. It is my goal to not only help people learn the language but also gain an understanding of the culture and learn about all the advantages they may have speaking German.
What makes your students special?
A lot of students – including those wanting to use German in a business setting – contact me because they feel they are not able to use the language. They may have already studied German for months or years, some of them on and off for a decade, but are still not able to communicate in German. More often than not, this is a result of attending grammar focused classes only. And although grammar classes might be necessary at some point, it is not a very natural way of learning a language, nor does it help to communicate.
I consider myself a communication coach for German as a foreign language. The main goal of communication is getting information from one person to another and my students really want to learn to communicate – either verbally or in writing. Most of my students are highly motivated and only need the right method and guidance, to finally be able to speak or write in German. It is always an amazing feeling seeing the huge smile, when they realize that they are on the right track.
In addition to this group of students, more young Americans (and their parents) are becoming aware of the possibility of receiving a much cheaper, but nonetheless high standard education abroad. Most German university programs offer free tuition and that includes students from abroad. With 20 universities ranking in the top 100 universities worldwide, students can earn a competitive degree at a much lower rate and also get international experience at the same time. However, for most of those programs you need to be able to speak German. magicGerman can not only help those young people learn the language, but also enables them to start their adult life out without financial burdens.
Did you create your own website or hire it out? Do you use WordPress?
I created the magicGerman website by myself and I use WordPress. After starting out by myself, I did end up looking for assistance, but not on the technical side. Since English is not my native language, I outsourced the copywriting to ensure my message was professionally promoted. I also had help with the translation into Chinese, which I do not speak at all.
I have a love/hate relationship with my website. On the one hand I have an affinity towards IT and enjoy working on the website, while on the other hand I would love to outsource it, as it takes away so much time and energy, which I could otherwise put into creating content and material for my students.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
Watch the 2003 movie “Calendar Girls”. It is the story of a group of middle-aged and elderly women, who decide to create and publish a calendar for charity. To sell more than the previous years, they decided to pose nude for the photos. It starts out as a crazy idea but develops into life changing moments and motivation for women around the world.
So, I challenge you to gain inspiration from Chris’ enthusiasm and love for life. Don’t overthink an idea but learn as you go, as she did. Have a compassionate but realistic friend like Annie and a circle of support as those girls had. Do not listen to the naysayer, instead find your own way – you will get support, just as they did. Be courageous as Ruth and do things scared. Take advice from the girls and have a glass of wine now and then. Don’t feel guilty when taking time for yourself but also don’t forget to push forward as Chris did.
And when you feel stuck, watch the movie again.
If you could magically give our entire readers one thing in this world, what would it be, and why?
I would love to give them the insight that learning another language is more than learning words and grammar. It is learning to communicate better – even in your native language. It is understanding people better, because listening will be re-learned. It is having more compassion for the people you interact with, because you better understand how much culture and background influence communication and action. Learning another language is seeing the world with new eyes and will enrich your life.