Saturday, July 6, 2013

Week 3: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Guten Tag!  Ich heisse Brit.  Wie geht's?  Es geht mir gut!  Ich gehe ins Kino.  Ich moechte eine Cola.  Wunderbar!  Auf Wiedersehen!
Hello!  My name is Brit.  How are you?  I am good.  I go to the movies.  I would like a Coke.  Wonderful!  Goodbye!

And that is roughly the extent of what I remember from four years of German.

Oh, and...ich weiss nicht.  
I don't know

I definitely mastered that phrase.

Okay, I might remember a little more than that, but still, I am by no means fluent.

I really love the German language and always intended to go back and properly explore its intricacies.  When I was a teenager in Frau D's German class, staring down Herr Spock at the front of the classroom--which was literally a cardboard cutout of Spock from Star Trek who wore a sign directing us to speak "auf Englisch" or "auf Deutsch"--I truly believed that some day I would be able to converse with a Berliner in his or her native tongue without making a complete fool of myself.

Yet, here I am roughly a decade later, and I am much further from that goal than I was at seventeen.  This week's contribution to the experiment was not to become fluent in German, since I realized that was completely impractical and unrealistic, but to try (free) online German lessons.  I wanted to see how much I had retained and whether this was a feasible method of study. 

Although these lessons dive straight into practice without explaining the language's quirks like umlauts (those little dots over the letters) and the scharfes S (ß)--both of which I omitted in the German words above--both Frau D and Herr Spock would be glad to know that some of their teachings stuck.  As I watched the words appear on the screen and heard those familiar guttural tones, from some long-forgotten, cobwebbed corner of my mind came flying all those words and phrases that I had come to know and love so many years ago.

The experience was definitely completely different from classroom instruction, but I think it is something I could stick with for the foreseeable future.

Oktoberfest, here I come?

COMING UP...Week 4:  The Cheesecake Stands Alone...

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