As most of you know, I’m doing an intensive German language course for the first few months (or basically until my German is good enough to get a job). The course is fantastic – but full on. It’s probably up there with one of the most difficult things I’ve done, but it will be awesome when things start to click.
I started the course two days after arriving here (before Tim even started work!) because the next course wasn’t until mid July. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the greatest idea starting an intensive language course jet-lagged! The course runs 5 days a week for around 4-5 hours per day. There’s a real mix of people in the course from all over the world, which is great! I’m the only Australian in the class but most people speak English pretty well so we can all communicate with each other, even if we can’t communicate that well with the teacher at times!
The only catch is that the teaching method is by immersion – so we aren’t allowed to speak in anything but Deutsche! The teacher speaks entirely in German, and it’s a bit like: ‘if I don’t understand what the meaning of this German phrase is, how is an explanation in German going to help!?”
So 100% Deutsche also means all questions must be in German. That’s pretty difficult if you don’t know how to string a sentence together in German. I’ve been told a number of times to ask my questions again – in German…. Right. And in relation to the German/English dictionary: “put that dictionary away …and listen to me!” Sooo… totally crazy, I know!
Tim started an evening German course this week too. He’s also got a mix of people from all over the world in his class – England, India, Ukraine, Russia. They also teach by immersion and a few people are having the same difficulties with the ‘German speaking only’ thing. There’s been some outbursts from class members, just to mix things up: “I don’t understand a word you’re f#%@ing saying to me? Are you going to start speaking English?”
So, interesting times…will keep you tuned on our progress!
Aside from the whole ‘learning German in German’ thing, our courses are going really well. It’s great meeting so many people from all over the world, all here in Frankfurt for different reasons. During the first month of classes there have been people from Brazil, Romania, Hungary, Serbia, France, Japan, Turkey, Spain and Italy in my classes. Some are here for a few months and some are here for a few weeks, so it makes for an interesting mix of people.
There are trained nurses from Hungary and Romania who are here to work (and earn better money than they can at home). This is despite the fact that they don’t speak German. So they learn German for a month and then it’s straight to work in the hospitals! Pretty tough, but there’s nothing quite like being thrown in the deep end for something like this. I’m not so sure how this sits with the potential for miscommunications though…
Then there’s a few French women attending the course who work as nurses and doctors in a French prison, and they need the German to communicate with some of their colleagues, who don’t speak French all that well (and who have also travelled to France from Eastern Europe to work).
Others are learning German for work that involves business dealings with German companies etc. or university students who require the German for their studies (for example to become interpreters or to study a masters etc in a German university).
For so many people in the course, German will be their third, fourth or even fifth language. And then there’s me, learning German as a second language. But, one thing at a time – back to my German homework for now 🙂