Learning German - an unexpected start

I feel honoured and excited that our blogger Prudence has decided to embark on the journey of learning German from scratch and take her children along on this new adventure. In the following weeks and months she'll include her insights, light-bulb moments but also her exasperations of the German grammar with you. Please feel free to write about your own experiences, questions or learning tips in the comments.

Teaching the whole family will also serve the purpose of setting up a course for primary school-aged children, which is planned to start from September this year.

- Antje Timmerman, Principal

The idea of learning a second language has been on my radar for years. Long before my children came along I had a desire to learn German. I had a job which required periodic visits to Frankfurt and with each visit I became more frustrated by my inability to comprehend what was happening around me. I felt uncomfortable being unable to converse with the locals when I was there – it seemed and still does feel rude. However, like so many people, I never plucked up the courage to take the plunge and learn a language. I'll be honest – I was always a little scared of making a fool of myself. What if I was incapable of retaining the new vocabulary? What if I couldn't pronounce the words properly? These thoughts prevented me from enrolling on a language course many times in the past – fear got in the way.

So what has changed?

I have come to the conclusion (it has only taken me 40 years) that stepping outside your comfort zone can be both empowering and extremely rewarding. Not only do you acquire new skills but you get a massive confidence boost. I like to refer to it as the 'I can do this' rush and there's nothing quite like it.

This year I have set my fear of the unknown aside and have signed up to learn German with the Deutsch Centre. I am taking my children along on the learning journey and they are very keen. Speaking a second language is a necessity for my children and German will enhance their future prospects substantially. They have already learnt the German words for numbers from1-10 which bodes well. I have no doubt that they will take to the new language like ducks to water – I just hope that I can swim as well as they can.

Our lessons are due to start in mid January so imagine our surprise and excitement when we received a postcard from Germany written in German a few days ago. The card was written in German from start to finish with an amusing footnote which simply gave us the web address for an online German dictionary. This small piece of card has engaged us all in a way I never thought possible. We couldn't wait to decipher the contents of the note and used both the online dictionary and a traditional German dictionary. The children were fascinated – the process of translating the text was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Was it difficult?

It was fairly straightforward to translate the information although I am not sure if we have done it accurately. It provided us all with a fun introduction to learning the language. We want to know more and I would be delighted to be able to write my own postcard in 6 months time.

I intend to share my thoughts about our language learning journey with you each week. If the success of the postcard is anything to go by then our enthusiasm combined with Antje, director at the Deutsch Centre, and her wonderful teaching methods will have us as fluent German speakers in no time.

I will share our translated postcard over the next few days together with the original text. I won't know how we've done until our first lesson but I am sure that a few of you will roll up your virtual sleeves and point out any errors we have made.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about learning a foreign language whether you are fluent in another language, a beginner or just toying with the idea. Have you any tips for us?

Until next time I will say in my as yet uncorrected German accent – auf wiedersehen.

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