My attempt to competently grasp this language so far has proved to be a very slow process; a result which I can only accept as being wholly my own fault due to multiple reasons.
These reasons are coupled with the frequently uttered ‘I really need to improve my German’ expressed with the same conviction as someone claiming they really should make an appointment to go to the dentist.
However, I have turned over a new leaf, I feel fairly confident that this new found motivation will stick, more so than my previous determinedly expressed plans.
This time I have decided to take a new route as I believe my previous attempts have failed to produce evident results because the routines simply weren’t effective.
I have found that merely attending a German evening class two nights a week for two hours has been only mildly productive for me because while I have been financially invested, I wasn’t mentally. Sure I would turn up to class, converse in rudimentary German sentences with my class mates and the teacher for two hours and complete the assigned tasks in the work book but as soon as I was out that door it was back to gossiping in English with my colleague.
When I first landed in Germany I planned for osmosis to take over coupled with my evening courses I was sure I’d be confidently discussing animals and my favourite restaurants within a few months. That very same outlook is wrongly assumed by so many expats moving to another country, believing simply being immersed in the culture and language will produce fast results - unless you are living in an isolated village, it won't.
After two months of intensive lessons, seven months of evening lessons, the occasional attempt to converse in German with my boyfriend and sporadically listening to my German colleagues I was just shy of donning my Dunce cap. I felt like I had reached a plateau and I was really just deflated and frustrated.
I felt like I was playing Jones in the fast lane and I had missed paying my rent one week and from that point on I was being garnished every time I hit the ‘work’ button, watching my salary increase by mere cents at a time in the bottom corner. Jones in the fast lane fans? Anyone?
Anyway, my point is since stopping my evening courses in December I had done very little in the way of maintenance or improvement. I was feeling a little disheartened and not quite sure of my competency outside of the apartment topic based conversations with my boyfriend.
"Do we need bread?" and "Where are my keys?" will only get you so far in the city.
So I set a challenge and went to see Life of Pi at the movies in German. I had read the book already and knew the story so realised it wouldn’t be a very dialogue heavy movie. It was a reaffirming experience, although I definitely struggled in parts I was also pleasantly surprised by what I did understand. This experience reactivated my enthusiasm for learning German.
So my new plan involves a different approach. I still plan to take lessons but I am searching for a new school. I think the bad experiences of my last school, the changes in teachers and the same class mates for months on end had become a stale learning environment.
My second approach is to start listening to music and watching more movies in German.
I have been asking around for recommendations as I really don’t know much about German music outside of Rammstein and Nina and the thought of listening to 99 ‘luftballoons’ or ‘Du hast’ in an effort to improve my German really reduces my motivation.
So far I've been met with a snicker or a long pause from those I've asked for recommendations. I know about Die toten hosen and Auletta and I’m eager to read any other recommendations so please share if you do know any good German music not from the 80’s.