I have lived in Germany for, let's say, a few years now. Do I speak the bloody language? I sure don't. I hate language classes and the way people over here pronounce everything sounds so harsh. They say it is close to English? The English they speak in Sichuan maybe! I have tried in the beginning, like all of us, to be a good immigrant. You go to language classes, you make an attempt to say "Bitte" and ,"Danke", "Gruess Gott" and "Tschuss!". You put words together and hope they assemble a sentence. People love you for the attempt - and answer in English.
After, let's say, a few years, I could not be bothered anymore. I just spiced-up my conversation with a few ,"Danke"'s and kept to my English, which is not my mother tongue, but oh so much easier for me to use and live by. As it also seems for most of the Germans I meet. So I don't have a problem. I just have to avoid people who don't speak the world's most widely-spread language here in Munich. Like the people from Telekom. Or at my bank. Or at the Amt. Or the lovely lady at my favorite cafe, who sits at her table smiling at me. Oh, and filling out a contract is something that will require help from a native speaker. Also, having a problem in my apartment is difficult, because I can not describe that problem in German to anyone local who may be able to fix it.
Let's face it, living in Germany without speaking the language turns you into a real alienated, disadvantaged loner. It is like being hearing-impaired: why is everybody laughing? Or nodding away with painfully concentrated expressions? What is so funny, so important, so interesting? Therefore, finally after, let's say a few years, here in Germany, I looked again for a possibility to learn that bloody language.
I knew I did not want to take one of these courses, where every lesson would see one of us break down crying, because everything was just so fast with all the adjectives and relative clauses, datives and what not. There would have to be a way to learn that language in a fun environment, in an easier way. I was ready to face my devils, but not under any circumstances. So I looked. And I looked. I tried a few one-on-one classes, but too expansive! I tried a very nice girl from Cologne as a Tendem Partner - too irregular, too fast (the classes, not the girl). We would end up speaking English! I still meet up with her sometimes for cinema - English cinema...
And then my friend metioned to me a course that brings together learning German and acting. I thought: well, let's give it a try. I am not a natural actor - in fact my experience ends with being a banana in the 5th grade. Though I now know everything about potassium, I had no idea whether or not I was at all capable of being on a stage - in German.
But I gave it a try.
The course is called FLIRTING WITH DEUTSCH, which impressed me and made me curious. That was what I wanted, a nice and easy flirt with a language, which had seemed so utterly unsexy to me. Susanne, the teacher who is also an actor, really made it a great and easy thing to do. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: you move around, use the language or the bits of it that you already know, and deepen your understanding whilst improving your skills. Nothing was ever too bad and you were encouraged not to be ashamed of yourself - you just were invited to speak and to flirt with the language. We played scenes, games and improvised, had little competitions and found a lot to laugh about. Susanne only spoke German in a very slow and clear to understand voice. I could feel my vocabulary building up easily, mixing with the new words acquired from the other students and with Susanne's. It felt like really coming to Germany, becoming a part of the culture rather than just being a tourist for, well, a few years. I wanted to speak! And I realized for the first time how much German I had already stored in my brain! Unbelievable!
After a couple of classes I had my first talk with a man from the Telekom; he sold me the wrong contract for my "Handy", and it was the first time that I went alone to confront a person in his position. German Telekom should really be called Teflon, because people sell you whatever they want and if you go back to tell them they were wrong, they just shrug and point to your signature on the contract. That did not change. But boy! Did it feel good when I could tell the man that he was an undignified bastard, unworthy of breathing the beautiful Bavarian air! I might have called him "unangry" which makes no sense, and called for the bavarian ,"lust", but hey! I am still learning and it is the attempt that counts! I got him saying ,"Leave the shop!", which made me proud!
I would - and I will - take that class again and again. So much has come out of it for me. Susanne knows how to keep the people in a good mood and she has this great love for her language - I might start really liking it soon too...
Oh, and by the way, I talked to the sweet lady at my favorite cafe. We are going out next weekend!
Check Susanne out on facebook, a new class starts this sunday, february 9th. The class will be from 10-13 o'clock at Amalienstraße 81a, back of the building (the beautiful red Villa, TASK acting school.