Goal #25829 of 2013: Learn German in Germany

So I have lived in Germany for nearly a year and a half now, and I am terribly embarrassed to say that I am nowhere near being fluent in German. When I first arrived I remembered thinking to myself that I would take German classes for the first year and become fluent in no time. I wouldn’t be like other people who move here and never completely learn the language, but merely ‘get by’ with a few phrases and the egotistical notion that everyone should speak English. No, I wasn’t going to be THAT person. I have always wanted to travel and to live in another country, so I was going to take this opportunity to learn the local language. And after all, I will be in Germany for 3 more years so it only makes sense to actually learn the language. This all sounds nice and lovely and easily accomplishable, but then things happened like travel and festivals and life in general. I did take one German course with a local school a few months after we arrived and were finally settled into our place. Moving here and getting settled alone took about two months to do. There was a lot of paperwork and just a lot to get done around our new house so that's why I didn't start immediately.

Anyway, I am getting off topic. So, I took a German class that was about 10 weeks with 9 hours of intensive immersion classes per week. Each class was a little over 3 hours long and the people in the class with me were from all over the world. Iraq, Vietnam, India, Greece….really there was a lot of variety in our 12 person class. There were a few other Americans in the class with me too, which was nice when I couldn’t figure something out. The instructor didn’t speak English and I don't think she wanted to hear it either. She would stop us whenever we started to speak english to each other. So for nine hours a week I started to learn basic German. Boy, was that exhausting! Languages do not come easy to me. Maybe it's because I'm left handed. They say language is perceived and understood in the left hemisphere, which clearly is not my dominant side. I think the jury is still out on all of this though.

On a completely unrelated note here is a hilarious article about the dooms of being left handed. Maybe I need seriously consider switching: http://www.cracked.com/article_19808_5-reasons-being-left-handed-screws-you-life.html 

So back to learning German, unfortunately for me I seem to have a hard time really learning a language. Maybe I’m better than some, but I think most people are much better than I am. My husband is really good at learning languages. He seems to remember and be able to recall everything easily and quickly. Lucky him. It’s always fun attempting new words and phrases. Sometimes it goes over well and sometimes you just get blank stares, or they’ll switch to English. That can be equally frustrating because it makes learning German tough when everyone is trying to speak English to you.

Again, I am getting way off topic! So now that it is 2013, a new year, that must mean I need to make some awesome New Year’s Resolutions. I usually tend to set too many and am oftentimes let down at the end of the year, but I think it’s always good to have big goals right? Doing the whole ‘don’t settle for less’ bit. So, I am setting out a goal this year to learn how to speak basic German. I don’t need to be fluent and be able to talk politics with my friends, I just want to know enough to be able to respond competently most of the time when someone talks to me. Not even all the time, just most of the time. And it would be soo nice to be able to hold a conversation with my German friends…in German. This isn’t too radical of an ambition, since I have already learned a lot of German and understand the basic constructs of the language. So with my new goal in mind, I am signed up for a course starting in April. Why wait until April? Well, I had foot surgery last fall and now I have to get the surgery on my other foot. I am really not looking forward to it, but I can’t wait forever to get it done. And I’m hoping that by this summer my feet will be healed enough that I can start training and living how I want again. I can’t wait for the day when merely standing doesn’t cause swelling and pain in my feet. Cue violin.

So I am getting my foot surgery and about eight weeks post-op I will be fairly mobile and able to start taking language class. I am taking class at a place called IFA in Stuttgart. It is a Cultural Institute and in case you’re interested in learning more about it their website is: http://www.ifa.de/en/german-courses/courses-and-examinations-at-a-glance/

The reason why I am excited about this class is that they offer weekend courses. Unlike the last place I was at that offered classes only weeknights or during the day, this place has a weekend course that is Friday nights from 6-730 and Saturday morning from 9-1230. That is perfect for me. I can easily fit it into my schedule and they offer the full range of courses for becoming fluent in German. I think a year break is enough time to take off and be able to re-focus, heh. So there is my very long and roundabout way of saying I will be taking another German course. Here’s to the New Year, and to finally learning German. Danke and Auf Wiedersehen!