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Ich lese Deutsch

I have to confess that my German skills have been sneaking up on me.

For awhile I’ve realized that I can figure out the proper German structure for relatively simple sentences, but when I try to speak, the vocabulary is missing. Obviously I need to somehow work on learning the vocabulary, but since my mind is a sieve when it comes to such things, efforts to learn vocabulary are either in one ear and out the other, or random configurations of letters in front of me on a piece of paper.

However I need to thank Mausi.

Last weekend at the Whiney Expatriate Blogger Meet-up in Bremen, she talked about how different life as an expatriate is today versus when she moved to Germany. Lacking a computer and a way to build a social network, she set herself to learning German—trying to read and understand newspapers—being an active learner.

For me it is definitely a passive thing—I have other things to do and I have a basic functional understanding of how to read menus, order food, go grocery shopping, and thank people. I think of myself as somewhat functionally illiterate, except for the fact I can’t really speak the language, if that makes any sense, whatsoever.

I wasn’t really participating in the conversation with Mausi; it was one of those moments where my mind was wandering, but I heard her mention Deutsch Perfekt, a magazine that helps you learn German. So I picked one up when I got back to Weimar, and have been reading it when I have time. Much to my surprise, I don’t understand everything, but I understand the gist of a lot of what it’s talking about (an article about Berlin Templehof was easy, despite the “Schwer” warning).

While spending time with Kyiv Katya this weekend, we’ve switched between English and German—with her telling me stuff in German just to challenge me. At times it’s worked and at times I have no idea what she’s talking about. However there were moments where sentences popped out of my mouth fully formed and without any active thought in my head of how to construct the sentences, which is something I cannot recall ever having happened before. Of course I have no idea if the sentences that popped out were good sentences, but they did just pop out.

2 comments to Ich lese Deutsch

  • G

    I have been reading Deutsch Perfekt since the end of my last German course, when my teacher brought some copies in to show us what we might do over the (very long) break until the next class. A lot of it is still too difficult for me, so your grasp of German is better than you realize. (Although, my grasp is so poor I’m not sure I can tell…)

    Great that you have “fallen” into the language though, I’m not even able to shove it between my ears.

  • I still am not fluent in Hungarian, something that drives me nuts on many occasions. I really want to be before I leave, because otherwise what is the point of me being here so long, right? My hungarian friends tell me I am good – but I think they are shocked a foreign student will try at all.