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German class

By Sunday, January 06, 2013 , , , ,

I really struggle learning languages, it's just not something I'm good at. And I'm debating whether I should keep going to the German class the university is providing for us.

I've read a lot recently on blogs about letting go of things that just aren't working for you, not to feel like a failure if you're not great at everything, and dropping anything that's making you unhappy. Sarah Von at Yes and Yes linked to a post called 50 things to stop doing forever on LiveBoldandBloom.com, and it's given me a lot to think about.

Some things that stood out to me are:

2. Doing things because I “should.” I am not motivated by guilt but by my own adult decisions about what is best for me.

6. Setting goals that I should achieve. I set goals that I want to achieve.

12. Beating a dead horse. If I see something isn’t working, I recognize it and move on.

25. Allowing other people to waste my time. I take the necessary steps to educate or avoid them.

As an adult, I'm torn whether I should just go to class because I know learning German will improve my life here, and it is such a great opportunity to learn another language, but on the other hand, it's making me unhappy, uncomfortable, and I don't think the teaching style is working for me.

I don't know if the responsible thing to do is to keep going, even though it's tough and I'm out of my comfort zone (isn't that how you learn and grow?) or if I should just acknowledge that this isn't working for me, and move on.

I have a lot to do, I have my thesis and work, especially since the Kathmandu trip is less than two months away and there's a lot of budget and paper work to be done. My coworker isn't in the office regularly, and when she is she's only there from 10-2, so a class that's from 10-1 really diminishes the time we can collaborate.

I feel like my teacher's method doesn't work for me. In a course with only 12 classes, we're learning some very scattered topics. We spend a lot of time talking about food and dining, which is important, but we've learned some incredibly specific things about food (like ordering from a deli) without learning some very basic things, like tourist phrase book things.  We have written dialogues between waiters and people ordering food in a restaurant so many times, but haven't done any free conversation. 

For example, we have learned how to order a glass of dry wine, but not ask for directions. We can describe our daily routine (shower, go jogging), but not words like hospital and ambulance, or 'Can you help me?' (I think I can figure that out, but it's not something we've gone over). We can ask someone if they have kids, but still don't know colors.

There are words and phrases we see and hear a lot around the city that she's never mentioned (for example, do Ausstieg, Ausgang and Abfahrt all mean exit? what's the difference?) There are several words that I easily confuse: brochen/brauchen (to break, to need), Kuchen/kochen/Küchen (cake/cook/kitchens), and lieben/leben (to love/to live) where I think a good teacher would make sure we didn't mix them up, but again we just learn the words and are then on our own.

I feel like she dismisses my questions and doesn't always give accurate answers.

We'll practice pronunciation and emphasis by repeating words, but without the article. I've heard there are some rules to help you figure out if a word is masculine, feminine or neutral (it's not as obvious as it is in Spanish with -o  and -a endings), but we haven't learned them. Often, you just have to remember the article with the word, so practicing saying words without the article is an incomplete lesson, like studying history without any dates. It's not a good use of time, memory or effort.

And finally, I have a really loud stomach sometimes. My husband says I have "tummy dragons" that growl and sometimes make the Predator clicking sound (weird, right?). Our class meets from 10-1, and since it's over lunch time, I get hungry. And my teacher will stop the entire lesson to comment on my stomach. She'll say something like "Oh, Claire! We will stop soon, and you can eat something! Ha ha!" What kind of teacher stops an entire class of adults to single out one student to comment on her stomach growling? She's embarrassing me in front of the class (what if I had a medical condition?), I don't feel like that's very professional, and it makes me self conscious in a class where making mistakes and speaking up is crucial to learning. 

I don't think I'm going tomorrow, we'll see about next week.


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  1. Oh gosh out of all those things, the commenting on your stomach just is terrible, I would hate that.

    German class was not the best way for me to learn (let me preface that I'm terrible and still learning) but since I wasn't enjoying it, I couldn't pay attention or gain anything from it. I found a couple books I really love working in and use memrise.com for studying. I also used to do tandem partners for speaking when I had more time.

    1. She's done similar things with other students too, one time a guy said 500kg of chicken instead of 500g or .5kg (and who hasn't made a mistake like that before?) and she kept going on about how they must cook really strange food in Ethiopia (where he was from) if they need that much Chicken. I guess she thinks she's making the class lighthearted and fun, but I am so nervous about messing up now!

      Yeah, I think it's really important to recognize that sometimes a particular class just isn't a good fit. I haven't heard of memrise.com before, I'll check it out!