Tired of Learning German in 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.