For the last few days I’ve been feeling the language synapses in my brain working harder than ever. Having to listen and speak German all day in class, in addition to being constantly surrounded by it during the rest of my day, is doing wonders (and it has only been a few days).
I need to formulate what I am going to say before I say it, even in English. But I am finding that it is taking less time to formulate in German than it used to (though I am still pretty slow). Even though I am not great at expressing complicated thoughts, I have been able to run all my simple errands auf Deutsch: buying a monthly train pass, checking in to our hotel, arranging a fax from my health insurance company and picking it up at the hotel’s front desk. It doesn’t sound like much, but it feels so good when you don’t need to ask, “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” I like to be independent and do what I need to do, and learning the language is definitely part of gaining that independence.
Today in my afternoon class, we did mock phone conversations for calling a canoe rental place and asking for information. And then one student made a real call to a real canoe company and did an impressive job. Even when the person on the other end of the line wanted to speak English, he stuck to it and was able to get quite a bit of information. Listening to his conversation was inspiring for me because I realized that even without perfect German, you can still communicate and be understood. And by doing this over and over again, you slowly improve. So there are no excuses!
Do you have a natural talent for languages? Or does it come a little slower (or not at all)? Any advice for me?