Monday, June 25, 2012

My First German Post: Traveling

Ich werde sehr bald weg gehen! Ich bringe mit mir Kleidung und Geld fur einer Monat. Ich bringe auch meiner Kindle, weil ich werde auf dieser Urlaub alleine sein. Ich fliege nach Singapur, dann im Zug fahre ich nach Malaysia, dann nach Thailand und dann endlich nach Vietnam. In Singapur habe ich zwei Freundinnen, und ich werde mit einem bleiben. Ich freue mich schon darauf! Tschuss, und bis bald! xoxo.

Mini-reflection on my progress with my German tutor: I am pretty happy so far with the bits of German I've been managing to pick up, and most recently I was able to converse simply for about 90 minutes straight with my tutor, mostly in German with only bits of English when I got stuck in the middle of a story. I feel that compared with people who have been sitting in a traditional Volkshochschule setting for the same amount of time (in terms of months committed), I am at least on par in my ability to express myself, even though on average I put in less than half of the hours they're putting in, per week. But, the drawback of studying with a private tutor is certainly that it's very adhoc, and less social. My listening isn't as strong as it would be if I were in a group setting, because my German teacher is relatively introverted and I typically have to keep the conversation going on my end. It's great because I get a lot of speaking practice, but my listening (always a weakness anyway, in any language) is lagging behind. My grammar is also weak, because we learn grammar in a pretty adhoc way instead of systematically as we would in a traditional class, so what I can say is based on my natural feel for languages instead of based on learned rules.

I am considering switching it up and enrolling in a Volkshochschule class in the fall, but I am not so sure yet about the 6 hours/week time commitment or the commute. (It'd be a significant step up from 90 minutes/week, at a cafe 3 blocks away from home.) I am still thinking about it, because I don't want to wait too long (ie. another 6 months or a year) and get to a point where my immersed fluency becomes much better than my grammar and I would have to enroll in a class that is really boring for me most of the time, just to fill in all the missed grammatical bits... Eventually, in the long run, I want to finish proper B-level classes and then take on a tandem conversation partner so that I can gain real German fluency, but these goals conflict naturally with the additional responsibilities I wish to take on at work next year. So, I am still thinking about it.

But, I am in a good place. I feel that when you acquire a new language, the first real break-through is when you can start to understand the gist of most conversations-with-strangers directed at you. Because, after that point, you can start picking up more vocabulary and grammar purely by context. That's where I am at, and I find that finally the words on a page are no longer words on a page, but linked to real auditory interactions as well. So, I am in a good place! Happy about getting here by the end of our first year in Germany, even though I cannot remember where we were with our Spanish by the end of the first year.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so proud of you, Mimi! That's significant progress -- you are in a good place because I think you have a clear sense of balance. You should do an audio snippet of your speaking German and post it here. I had to put your intro into Google Translate; the only word it didn't seem to translate was "Tschuss." Thanks, Mimi.