Friday, September 09, 2005

From PHP to Deutsch

As one who specializes in information systems, I'm no stranger to communication in foreign languages. So as I transition from human-computer communication to human interlinguistic communication. I have to wonder which of these is more difficult. Let's just say that my right brain is being developed as I explore a greater level of subjectivity and flexibility in communication.

I have met with with four of my German-English conversation partners. The agreement is that they will help me with German, and I will help them with "native" English. All are native Germans. Two are English majors at the university. Another is a professor of literature, about to begin work on a degree in a completely different subject area. The fourth works in a hotel and wants to develop her English to improve her customer service skills. Each has a different personality, different style, different story. I enjoy being with one for her cultural insight; another for introducing me to fun, active, "unique" opportunities in Munich that I may not have otherwise considered; another for challenging me to speak German, even with all my grammar mistakes (I wanted to start only with English for the first meeting!); and another for her bubbly personality and enjoyment of life.

Here are two of my new friends on our first meetings. I didn't get a picture of my first conversation partner because I wasn't in the mode of thinking "camera" yet, so I left it at home. I didn't get a picture of another one during our first meeting because we went running together, and I already had too much "stuff" to carry while I ran. : )

This morning, in about an hour, I have an appointment to register for the Volkshochschule " Deutsch als Fremdsprache/Deutsch als Zweitsprache" program (basically German language classes). It will meet three times a week, afternoons, for 8 weeks, starting at the end of September. I'm really excited about this opportunity to learn in a more structured environment...

...than talking to our landlady at home! She speaks no English, only German (and Hungarian, her mother tongue). It's great because it forces me to speak and learn all throughout the day. I must admit it's annoying and frustrating at times, like when I'm tired and don't want to talk to anyone, especially not in another language. That's when it's really good for me, though, because it teaches me to use the language when I need to, not just when I feel like it.

So I've gotten to the point where I don't feel self-conscious about using a little Deutsch here and there. If I can stay within the confines of a simple transaction at the store, for example, I'm fine. I still freeze up a bit when someone asks me a question quickly and abruptly, but I'm looking forward to mastering the language in such a way that I respond automatically.


Post a Comment

<< Home