Saturday, 6 February 2010

Patterns are at last starting to emerge for me in German. I've been here just over six months now, and am starting to be able to actually interact auf Deutsch. I sang at a book launch (one which was really meant just as a favour for a couple of friends, who work in the building where I have my flat, are unbelievably supportive of my voice, and for whom I thought belting out a couple of verses of something would be no problem; hadn't quite reckoned with it being such a big deal in the end, with lots of speeches from local dignitaries, son-et-lumière show, and a multitude of press and TV cameras...such is life!) yesterday, and for the first time, understood the majority of what was said in all the speeches. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do that a couple of months ago. I was also able to respond to most of what was said to me, and was extremely pleased with a couple of conversations concerning the numinous in music (with the equivalent of the vicar) and sharpness / focal length (with a photographer).

Of course there's a long way to go before I am fluent, but it's nice to feel that I am progressing.

The sheer concentration that is still required, though, is huge. By the end of an hour and a half my head was aching badly from the energy expended. For that reason, it has been very refreshing to attend a couple of English-language events in the past week. I know it's just a phase, but there is something about this particular stage in learning a language that makes one feel like a child amongst adults; you vaguely understand the undercurrents but seldom dare interject, in case you have misunderstood. The result, as I know from a few recent evenings out speaking only German, is that you feel as though you have mislaid your personality; and that which has replaced it is BORING! So speaking the occasional bit of English at this point seems invaluable. (Although I have to admit to accidentally failing to speak English at the last one, which seems utterly perverse - one of the other attendees was French, and in the course of a deep discussion it would seem we slipped unknowingly into speaking French; rapped on the knuckles, we apologised and the evening continued in English, but I was secretly delighted to find that my French had not disappeared for good - it was evidently buried at a level only accessible at present after a couple of glasses of wine!)

2 comments:

  1. I'm going to keep in mind your description of how you felt like a child when I am with people who are struggling to learn and speak English. They must feel like that too. But no one ever describes the feeling. It never occurs to me that the real personality of the person trying to talk may actually be different than their "real" one.

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  2. Headaches can always be fixed with more booze... Which will probably help with making you feel more confident speaking any language too. Whether anyone could understand you? *shrugs* Does it really matteR?

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