Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why I NEED to learn me some German

If you are already a lovely reader of Emma's at Point Me At Lost Islands, then you may have already caught what I wrote here as it was a guest post I did over at her place a little while ago. You will probably notice that it is very much in the 'past' tense now as sadly my learning of German ended with my last class today. You'll have to wait until next week when I have my exam results to know how I got on though.

 Today I am talking all about my experiences of going back to school and learning another language.

At the beginning of August, I started at a language school in Mannheim, Germany, in a vague attempt to be able to communicate with my boyfriend's family with more than a 'nod & smile' approach.  Don't get me wrong, that's served me well for (cough) 18 months, but it might just be about time I stopped being all 'you speak English anyway so I don't need to learn' and tried.

So, that's what I did . Two days in and it was hard.  I was the 'mature' student amongst a number of University students who physically recoiled when I said I (shock horror) work and wasn't going to be out partying every night. 

The school is in the city castle: it's pretty fancy!

Wind back 18 months and I arrived in Germany for the 2nd time since I was 11 years old. We did one year of German at school so I knew how to introduce myself and count.  Everything was massively foreign. I found myself sat in a tiny village in central Germany, surrounded by my boyf's family listening to a noise which sounds a lot softer than the stereotype I have to say. I couldn't work out what was going on. So I sat, ate, nodded and smiled through the entire week. I could have been in China - ya know? THAT kinda foreign.

Last summer I spent my whole break in Trier with Andi (my boyfriend...not a new guy!) and I thought. Here is an opportunity to learn German. I can do an online course and by the end of the month, if I study everyday, I will be really good.  Um, no...but the 'noise' I used to hear translated into something like this:

hoigihihd iodjojdoijod tomato hioooijiji bread hiooiijo make.

Trier is a pretty gorgeous city too!

 Part of the problem I have is that I am frightened to try to speak another language. I am so scared of saying something hideously inappropriate that I just don't say anything at all. Not even:

"Sprechen Sie Englisch?" oder "Ich spreche nicht Deutsch"

I have known these two phrases for TWENTY years of my life, but couldn't speak them.

There are two people I don't mind speaking German with: Andi and his mum. He is good at correcting me and his mum in involving me in activities, like cake baking or looking at photographs together.

Apart from that, I have had some interesting experiences.

On one occasion, a lady stopped and asked directions from me. She was quite old and lived in a small town, so I tried the small amount of German I was getting good at saying:

"Weiss ich nicht" - or I don't know (useful hey?!)

I am not sure what she heard from my pronunciation, but she swore at me REALLY loudly and then walked off muttering angrily leaving me wanting the ground to swallow me up completely.

My reluctance to speak sometimes results in some pretty embarrassing situations. Only two weeks ago, I was stranded in Andi's parent's bathroom with no spare toilet roll. I was too mortified to shout for them to bring me some loo roll, I sat their for 45 minutes. With each passing minute I was more aware that I looked more 'ill' than toilet paperless. I love wet-wipes...let's leave it there.

So in 18 months, I have picked up some basics, and thankfully I was not quite in the bottom class reciting the days of the week and numbers. I was in A1, 2 (the second group up) and learning was at a rapid pace. We were made to talk and the scary, but awesome teacher, demanded a lot from the group.

It's now the end of the month, and I can form a sentence without wanting to crawl in a hole and bury myself.  Hooray!

What are your experiences of learning another language? Can you speak fluent German/teach German...any combination of both and want to give me some speaking practise now that I am heading back home?
Hast du Lust? (If you speak German, you'll know what that's about!)

Take care,

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Katlyn Larson said...

I just never really want to try and learn another language. I like English too much! :)

I mean if I was in your situation then yes, I would try but I think I'll pass for the moment! Haha.

meet.make.laugh. said...

My husband and I are in the process of learning German as well! Well we are in the process of trying to learn German..... we are not doing very well. My grandparents live in Germany and we are visiting in October and I was really hoping to try my hand at German while I was there! (They speak fluent English so I have never really felt the need).We got a little book and audio guide for at home, but I think we really need to try some classes. ~Stephanie

april@gingerbread said...

Hey girl....I'm your newest follower from the blog hop! Can't wait to get to know you better!
I hope you will come follow back!

THE mom said...

My husband is 1/2 German...born in Germany and lived there until he was 6. He still can speak the language and everything. Some things he forgets but he'll just ask his mom and she'll tell him. He's trying to teach our 2 little guys.
He says that the rosetta stone program is really good for learning German.

Alyx said...

Hahaha, German is a really difficult language - don't worry, you'll get it!! Just don't be afraid to try what you know. If you ever need to practice, I'm here! :)

Stephanie said...

I did two years of German in college, but anymore I don't remember much. It's interesting though because I took Spanish in high school, and most of my sentences I try to speak end up being half German, half Spanish. So I end up saying things like "Meine schwester ist tonta" loosely translated: my sister is crazy :)

Lieke said...

Hi Rosie, pfff German... where to start... here in Holland we learn English and German or French in high school all the way through collage/university (depending on your studie of course. I studied in Reutlingen (Baden-Wurtemberg) for 2 years and I must say even after 2 years I still wasn't confident about my German... Maybe because I mostly hung out with the Britts/Americans.. But it is a difficult language even for us Dutch people (German and Dutch sounds similar). So I am very proud of you for learning it! And you must try to speak it as much as possible! You could watch the Princess Sissi movies! They are in German and I love them!!!

Cocalores said...

Liebe Rosie,
jetzt schreibe ich einen Kommentar auf Deutsch. Du verstehst ihn sicher! Die Geschichte mit dem Toilettenpapier war furchtbar lustig, ich wüsste gerne, was Andis Eltern gesagt oder gedacht haben! ;-)

Viele liebe Grüße

Kara Monroe said...

I am both mathematically inclined and musically inclined (meaning I've learned two "languages" many people find challenging). However, trying to learn a foreign language has always proved nearly impossible for me. Like you, I have a huge fear of saying something completely inappropriate. I wish you all kinds of luck and courage as you continue to learn.

Rachel said...

German's not the language for me, but I did start studying Spanish two years ago when I first decided/knew that I'd be marrying into a Spanish-speaking family. My husband speaks English very well, but it's not his native language, and his family rarely speaks it when they're together. Learning a language is hard, but I'd rather go to the trouble of learning that always have to be on the 'outside' of family conversations. Where I am now, I can pick up general ideas and understand quite a bit of what it said, but like you I'm pretty nervous about speaking. So when I want speaking practice I just talk to my husband. It's not so embarrassing if I make a mistake around him only. :P


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