Category Archives: The German Language

Deutsch@YG and first-hand accounts from the desks of German language classes.

Learning German: Finding Freedom in a Foreign Language

Photo copyright dpa

Photo copyright dpa

Sometimes I’m more at ease speaking German than English, as if you can hide behind it or something. It not being my first language allows for misunderstandings, and not necessarily just linguistic ones. Furthermore, I’ve learnt to be assertive, in German. I said that was one of the typical German characteristics I’d love to pick up on during my year abroad but I really didn’t think it could happen. Somehow though, it has.

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Learning German: Bavarian Dialects

Key in door

Photo copyright dpa

Liv Hambrett is an Australian expat living in Germany.  Visit her blog, follow her on twitter, or buy a copy of Sincere Forms of Flattery, an anthology that includes her work.

And I am back to not understanding a single word of what is going on around me. I feel like I have rewound back to 2010, when I landed in Münster with three words of German – danke, bitte and polizei – and existed in perpetual terror the bus driver was going to want to say something to me over the speaker and I wouldn’t understand it (which happened, often. I still have the irrational feeling bus drivers will call me out in front of the whole bus based on a few consecutive Münster experiences.)

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Living in Germany: The Language Battle

Photo copyright dpa / picture alliance

Photo copyright dpa / picture alliance

Liv Hambrett is an Australian expat living in Germany.  Visit her blog, follow her on twitter, or buy a copy of Sincere Forms of Flattery, an anthology that includes her work.

Most of the time here, I can crack out my German in shops and cafes and restaurants with aplomb, or in social settings, engage in a monolingual conversation that makes me feel both smug (look at me go) and embarrassed (did I just murder a case?) at the same time, a sensation peculiar to learning and speaking a foreign language … or is that just me? But there are other occasions were something else happens and it’s usually in a bar and usually with bright young things who grew up with American pop culture squawking loudly in one ear and an English teacher in the other, from around the age of six. On these occasions, the conversation becomes bilingual, but in reverse. Allow me to elaborate.

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The German Language: My Top Ten Words

Photo copyright dpa/photo alliance

Photo copyright dpa/photo alliance

German is such a brilliantly mis-represented language. How a language with words like Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän could be considered long-winded or aggressive is just beyond me.. sie ist doch so ‘ne schöne Sprache.

Here are my top ten favorites:

1. Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft

Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services. (79 characters.. woah!)

2. Kummerspeck

Noun for weight gained from emotional over-eating. Literally: grief bacon. (Awesome)

3. Mauerbauertraurigkeit

The inexplicable urge to push people away.  Literally; wall-builder-sadness.

4. Kühlschrank

Fridge. Literally: cold wardrbobe. (Makes sense.)

5. Weltschmerz

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Teaching English in Germany: Funny Mistakes

Photo copyright dpa/photo alliance

“Lernen” and “lachen” go well together.  Photo copyright dpa/photo alliance

One of the best parts of teaching English in Germany for me really has to be the funny mistakes my students make. I have laughed so hard I’ve had tears streaming down my face on numerous occasions. And don’t worry, I laugh WITH my students, not AT them (I was teaching some students today just how important this distinction is). Most of the time. I always remind them that I make just as many mistakes in German (like when I told my German teacher that I cook my TV instead of “watch” it) and that with language learning the best thing to do is keep it fun. I polled some of my other teacher friends and here are some of the greatest hits of English mistakes we came up with. Enjoy!

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Moving to Germany: My First German Class

Photo copyright dpa

Photo copyright dpa

Hello everyone! My name is Oksana, and I am here to tell you my Germany story. I am from Estonia, and I am 25. I studied and worked in England for almost seven years and then one day when I became bored from work and depressed from constant rain, I decided to move to Germany. So I’ve swapped my cozy office chair for three kids who I au-paired for for half a year. I like travelling, cooking, jogging, meeting new people, and discovering new opportunities.  This is Oksana’s second post on the YG blog.  You can read the first here and the second here.

Kissing my fiancee good bye at Manchester Airport without knowing exactly when we would see each other again, I took an hour and a half plane trip to Stuttgart, where I was picked up by my guest mum. The kids were already in bed when we got to my new home, but she assured me they were excited about having an au pair.
The family had their own rules and I had to be up at 6 am to help with breakfast, that has to be served at 6:45 am during the week and at 8 am on the weekends. I couldn’t say much and was very nervous, because kids are a huge responsibility, and I had absolutely no experience babysitting whatsoever. On the top of that I am known for not being patient, and I thought I’d screw everything up, but no I did not.
On the second day of my arrival we went to the Rathaus (city hall) where I was officially registered as a new resident of the town. Then we sorted the insurance out (an essential thing in Germany) and went to the VHS (language school) to enroll for an upcoming German course. I had A1.1 certificate from Goethe institute and the secretary we spoke to suggested I carry on with A1.2.
After having my first lesson it was clear that I was wasting my time and needed to change the course for a higher level. I had spent a week in an A2.1 class when I was told to leave it because according to the rules the number of students can not exceed 20 per every level. I was truly disappointed. Not only was I disappointed, but I also had to wait for a month in order to join a course again.
To my happiness the VHS has contacted the guest mother saying I could try another level, A2.2, and if I was happy with it, I could stay there.
Oh my God… when I went there I wasn’t able to make a sentence and didn’t understand what the teacher was saying. It looked to me that others could actually speak decent German. By the end of the lesson the teacher said I need to go back down one level. I told her that there was no chance. She didn’t believe I could make it, bu in a week’s time I had learned about 500 words and reached the same level as the majority of my course mates. I didn’t do it because she had doubts about me, I did it because I wanted to be as good as others were. Besides, I couldn’t waste my time and needed to improve the language asap.
The family has helped me a lot with that. The guest mother has stablished a rule: if I do make a mistake the kids have to correct me. It was the very helpful and I do appreciate they all did.
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How I Fell in Love With Germany: Language Courses

Photo copyright dpa

Photo copyright dpa

Hello everyone! My name is Oksana, and I am here to tell you my Germany story. I am from Estonia, and I am 25. I studied and worked in England for almost 7 years and then one day when I became bored from work and depressed from constant rain, I decided to move to Germany. So I’ve swapped my cozy office chair for three kids who I au-paired for for half a year. I like travelling, cooking, jogging, meeting new people, and discovering new opportunities.  This is Oksana’s second post on the YG blog.  You can read the first here.
When I got back to the place I then called home, the thought of moving to Germany wasn’t leaving me.  I signed for the Goethe Institute A1 course, which was taken place at the University of Manchester. The course was expensive, but excellent. The only problem for me was that it took place once a week. Although I couldn’t manage more, as I had to attend the four-hour course after work, more classroom time would have helped me learn the language more quickly.
In September when I first met my new classmates for the first time, I was surprised to find out that majority of them weren’t British and already spoken at least two languages. We all had different reasons for wanting to learn German. One girl was an opera singer who wanted to learn German in order to understand what she is singing, while another guy studied philosophy and wanted to read Nietzsche in the original.  Still others considered the German language a hobby. The age varied from students to pensioners. The fact that we were all there for different reasons had an impact on our attitude towards the course.
Our teacher, on the other hand, was a young British fellow who made it crystal clear from the first lesson that this is a German class and here we’ll speak nothing but German. John was funny, made us laugh very often and brought a lot of personality into our lessons. The fact that we were being taught by a non-native speaker didn’t put anyone off. On the contrary, we had a lot of respect for him as he was the best example of what you can achieve. He wasn’t afraid of being funny and despite of the fact that he didn’t have much teaching experience, he was an excellent teacher who was able to find the right approach to every person in the class room.
John was also patient. If one of us didn’t understand something, he would repeat the sentence over and over again helping with gesture until we all understood it. We always had a lot of a homework and any written assignments were sent to John via e-mail. It wasn’t the type of course you sit back in because no one checks how far you’ve gone. Throughout the course we had three written exams and then one big final exam. We were tested in listening, reading, speaking, and writing comprehension. It was only beginners level, but the final exam I had in May was hard. Luckily, I scored 81 out of 100.
That was the first step.
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