Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Du verstehst mich!

on April 1, 2013

My efforts to learn German have fluctuated over the last year. There are times when I am very keen – such as on the plane heading to Germany, or when I don’t want to clean the kitchen – and other times when I’m a bit less diligent. The pattern of increasing and diminishing interest seems to be fairly stable, and I am convinced that I need a certain amount of time to consolidate what I have learned before I can acquire new words and phrases.

This weekend I impressed myself with how much I am able to communicate. I have finally reached a point where I am able to articulate quite abstract and complicated concepts, and be understood clearly. My sentences are coherent enough that native speakers are able to supply the missing verb or noun for me. It is an exciting stage to be at.

I am convinced this improvement is because I have found ways to interact with the language that do not feel like study. When I am relaxed I do not struggle with the grammar, I just accept it and move on with my life. I can see connections with English that are otherwise opaque to me. I am willing to blunder through and make mistakes, which means I can try things I was previously too timid to say.

Dialect continues to be my biggest hurdle. My boyfriend is using it more often in his conversations when he doesn’t want me to understand what he is saying. This is frustrating enough to compensate for my newly found relaxation, but if he isn’t careful then his new tactic won’t last for long.

As always, my challenge is to find new ways to expand my vocabulary. Most movies and games that I have access to are in High German, which won’t help me much with the dialect. Despite this very minor drawback, every new word will help. If nothing else, I will be able to isolate the slang terms. Sometimes a bit of context is all it takes to know he’s in trouble when I get my hands on him.

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