Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ich lerne Deutsch!

That's right, I'm a student once more.

There is a German lady here as a tourist, also volunteer teaching English in one of the elementary schools, and providing community German lessons at night. Her class schedule clashes with my own university English classes, so upon meeting, she agreed to give me individual lessons. Today was my first official German lesson.

It was great! We met at a cafe and she gave me some worksheets and practiced pronunciation, very patiently, I might add! The best part is that one of my English students was talking to us and asked Monica, my German teacher, how I was as a student. It was hilarious, but a good point. This experience to start again at square one in learning a new language will help remind me how my students feel, even though they are about the same level as I am in Spanish. Perhaps I will also review some ways of studying and teaching, bringing them to my English students.

But wait, you might wonder, are you already "fluent" in Spanish? Oh heavens no! I have Intermediate, conversational, informally-acquired, Spanglish speaking ability. I have a long way to go. But, as with many things we seek to spend our time learning, I have hit a learning plateau.

People don't correct me when I make mistakes. I spend equal parts of my day speaking English and Spanish. I know what I need to know to live how I live, so I don't seem to be learning as many new words and phrases as when I first arrived here. Obviously.

Something I read about for this specific situation, is to seek out other ways to practice (such as a fluent Spanish-speaking German tourist). Another was to pick up another language. They suggested that understanding a new language may help you to see patterns and common problems in how you learn, let alone the technical components of similar languages, like Spanish and German.

To make things even more interesting, Monica is teaching me German, by using and comparing it to Spanish. After the basic German lesson, we get to know each other by conversing in Spanish. I told her that since my Spanish is far from perfect, it's more like "Spanglish": a crude mixture of English and Spanish. So while we are learning in such a different approach, it's like learning "Germish": a mix of Spanish and German.

Yes, I hope to pick up a little German, improve my Spanish, and to more importantly make a new friend.

She is older, a CELTA-qualified English and German teacher, who has also worked for years as a tour guide for German passengers through-out Spanish-speaking countries, as well as many countries in Africa. Tall and slender, dark blonde and very down-to-earth, she reminds me of Jane Goodall.

So now I speak English, Spanish, and German. / Yo hablo inglés, español, y alemán. / Ich spreche Englisch, und Spanisch, und Deutsch.