Musings on My Current Level of German…

This week has been both encouraging and discouraging in reference to my continuously increasing level of German.  I can hold a great conversation about a movie I just watched and if I understand a new concept at work, I can repeated well using the new vocabulary I learned pertaining to the subject.

A lot of this has to do with my Team Leader – Josi.  She is this adorable little red head who will astound you at the vast amount of knowledge she has in her noggin’.  She is amazing at her job and is a fantastic teacher.  She has so much patience and is very encouraging, even if you do something wrong.

She always looks for little exercises for me to do in order to improve my German.  The current one is taking notes at our weekly meetings.  It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

We have general notes and then we go over the minutes from the last meeting.  This means the notetaker has to update the minutes.  It doesn’t sound that hard except when you are doing this in a language where the words look like this:

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsges

This is an actual German word.  German is mostly comprised of compounding two or more words together.  It makes them hella long sometimes but if you know enough of the words in the bigger word, you can get the jist of what the whole thing is.

It’s hard.  I have only done the note taking twice and there has been a huge improvement.  The first time took me about an hour to update the notes, this last time took me about 20 minutes or so.  This has been also due to Edith (another co-worker).  She will also take notes at the same time and we will compare notes to see what details I have missed.

Josi actually apologized to me the other day about making me do this exercise.  She told me that she knew that I was mean of her to force this on me.  But I reassured her: German is my third language and from my experience, the only way to get better is to literally throw yourself off the deep end.  There are plenty of opportunities to make mistakes but by making them, I will learn.  I told her not to worry about it.  Yes, it’s hard and it does suck but I know she wants to help me and I know that it works so I see nothing wrong.

Overall, I feel like I am making progress.  The last few days, I feel like my brain has been opening just a little more and letting more German in.  I can understand more on the radio, I understand my colleagues just a little better.  I feel like I have made progress.

However, yesterday morning during a discussion and practice of a new concept: I totally bombed :-/ A few weeks ago was the presentation of the concept and today my mind went blank.  Luckily, I had notes from that time that helped a little bit but it became very clear that I had no idea what the hell I was talking about.  It was very awkward.  I could tell Josi was feeling a little discouraged because she felt that she hadn’t communicated well enough.  I felt discouraged because I do remember her lecture and I genuinely thought I understood it.

This is a big obstacle in learning a language.  When do feel confident on how much you actually understood? Unforunately that takes a long time.  But never let yourself get discouraged.  That’s what is going to bring you down.  I am starting to realize that I do overestimate my abilities but at least I learn what I am doing and can rectify it.

That’s all you can really do.

All right, everyone, that is enough from my brain today so…

Have a beautiful weekend (Schoenes Wochenende!)

and until Monday! (Bis Montag!)

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