Tired of Learning German in Germany

germany

German can be difficult according to Kristi Fuoco,  in this article in our local Vancouver Sun newspaper. Kristi is living in Germany, studying German and is baffled by German grammar, especially the cases, and thwarted in her attempts to speak German since most Germans are so good in English. At the same time she is not sure that she really likes German. In other words,is she truly motivated enough to learn it?

I think that Kristi has identified some basic issues that affect all of us language learners at some time. But when I am confronted with these feelings I get back to the basic issues, motivation, enjoyment and commitment.

If you are not motivated to learn a language it will be very difficult to do so. So Kristi’s first task is to think of the things she like about the German language and culture, or even individual German people she likes. This need not be all aspects of the culture and language nor all the people, just some. Then she needs to stop worrying about the cases and other elusive aspects of the grammar,  and start enjoying the language as a means of communication. As for Germans  speaking to her in English, she only has to reply in German. Some will switch to German and others will insist on speaking English, from my experience. You win some and you lose some.

I  enjoy being in Germany. There is a lot to like in German culture, its cities, the liveliness and energy of the people. Above all I get a thrill from the fact that I am able to operate in that language environment and communicate, even though I make mistakes.  Yes, there are many people who speak English well and insist on speaking English. I have not found them to be the majority.

So in summary, Kristi needs to remind herself of how lucky she is to be in Germany, learning German and immersing herself in another culture. But even more so she needs to remind herself how well she is doing. She needs to focus on the moments of success, and I am sure they are many. She should not set impossible standards for herself but rather enjoy what she has achieved. This will fuel new energy for her studies, and gradually, impreceptibly, her German will continue to improve.

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7 comments on “Tired of Learning German in Germany

Robert Wargas

It was only after I stopped caring about cases and grammar that I started enjoying German and actually retaining things. I’ve only been studying it seriously for a little over a year, and I’ve been delinquent at times because of my schedule, but I certainly know a ton more German than Italian, which I studied for 4 years in school and yet couldn’t speak a word of.

That’s a very interesting problem — going to a foreign country and having too many people speak YOUR native language! I had that problem somewhat when I lived in Cozumel, Mexico. The key seems to be making local friends and convincing them that yes, you REALLY do want to learn their language.

I’m glad my post inspired you to write a post too! Your thoughts are good and I think you are right about the fact that you really need motivation to learn. Most of my friends here have German partners or a reason for being here. I purely came for the experience, which has been wonderful. I love Hamburg, but I have trouble connecting at times with German culture (though there are many fabulous parts to it.) I was in Italy last week and I felt so connected to the language, to the culture. It’s hard for me to have the same connection here, but when I got back from Italy I found that I really do know more German than I thought, that sometimes I can even have fun with it. I don’t know if I will ever get to a level with it that feels comfortable, but I think I do need to let go of impossible standards and try to just enjoy it for however long I may be here.

Hi Kristi and thanks for dropping by. Good luck with your German. I also enjoy Italian but now I am off to Vienna and then Romania so I will be using both both German and Romanian. I try to enjoy which ever language I am learning.

Cheers.

Steve

Reza

Hello Steve,

I previously spoke German fluently prior to residing to Vancouver 20 years ago. When I moved here I stopped practicing the language because I simply had no one to speak to. I have since lost my ability to speak, write, and read it.

I have recently had this keen interest of regaining my knowledge of it and I was hoping you can help shed some light as to the best way of going about doing so. I reside in Vancouver and have checked out some options but all of them cost money and I don’t want to choose the wrong path.

Can you kindly advise.

Warm regards,

Reza

    My best advice would be to check out LingQ.com. There are lots of resources for German and a community of native speakers and learners of German. Good luck. Steve

Gabe Rutledge

I mostly used alot of learning apps like Duolingo to help me. There are a few really awful ones (Speakeasy was my least favorite) but the ability to mix up which app to use helped keep it interesting. I couldn’t imagine learning German in Germany though, that would be overwhelming for me.

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