When you use a computer program to learn German and then go to a class or lessons, you will eventually have this kind of epiphany:
Oh, THAT'S what that app [computer program/website/electronic learning tool] was trying to get me to do. Now I understand WHY.
Computer programs are great for things like vocabulary learning, listening, and multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions--because these are binary situations--either you have the correct answer or you don't. So what about the rest of your learning? What about live feedback? What about guidance?
3 Reasons why computer-based German programs don't work:
1. There's no interaction.
Since there is no teacher, there is no interaction. Learning a language is an active, living process, just as a language is a live, living being that changes over time. So does your learning as you gain new skills, acquire vocabulary, learn how to express yourself in this new language.
All you get in an app or a program is a right-wrong situation, and no explanation why you are doing something correctly or incorrectly. With the right teacher, you'll have explanations that include the what, the why, and the how. An effective teacher will be able to give you visual cues, mnemonic devices, rules of thumb, grammar charts and visual aids.
2. Personalization? Nope.
Any teacher worth their salt will remember your likes and dislikes, play to your learning style, and help you connect with the material. Since a computer program is just a display and some audio, it obviously can't do that. (Schade...)
Especially if you are spending your hard-earned money on one-on-one lessons (Einzelstunden), you want to be able to dive deep into topics which interest you and to get extra help and extra exercises when you reach a difficult grammar topic. You get all that with a live person--but not with a computer program.
Plus, personalized, one-on-one lessons are one of the most effective, get-your-money's-worth ways of learning a foreign language. You don't have to wait for someone else to ask their question, your lessons don't get interrupted like classes do when that one person shows up 15 minutes late...for the 5th time in a row.
3. Accountability? Auch nicht!
With a teacher, you have an appointment to keep, whether it's in person or online, like I teach. If it's just a computer program, it doesn't expect to meet you, nor will it demonstrate joy watching your progress from week to week, thus there isn't any accountability. And it can never send you grammar tables, give you a smiley when you've done a good job, or help you chart your progress in soft terms--understanding, comprehension, pronunciation, and overall comfort with the language.
No computer program can take the place of a real, live instructor who provides you with feedback, guidance, new ideas, and encouragement. A live teacher can bring zero in on your strengths and help you work through your linguistic weaknesses. Private lessons provide a custom learning solution for your German learning. It just doesn't get better than customized, now does it? Use computer programs and apps for what they are good for, but don't expect them to replace a teacher. Find out the why and the how, not just the what.