Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mein Deustch ist nicht sehr gut

Pin It Now! So I've lived in Germany for a year and a half now.  I would say I know maybe 50 words.  Maybe more than that.  Rosetta stone taught me "Das auto ist rot" but really when will that ever help me?  And I can count to 11.  You know...really important stuff.

It's interesting how much I am able to pick up from mannerisms and body language though.  For example when I first went to the german grocery store, they would always ask a question after I would pay. 

After the first time they asked me a question I realized they were asking if I would like my receipt.  I couldn't even tell you what it sounded like or what the question was.  I just knew based on previous experience and body language they would ask if I would like my receipt to which I would always reply "nein".

After awhile I started to recognize the word for receipt which is "rechnung".

There was another  time when baby Wright was only 5 weeks old that some older lady had stopped me asking about the baby and all I picked up out the the sentence was Mädchen and Junge.  She was asking if he was a girl or a boy.(you can never tell with a newborn)  And then just based on her tone of voice and body language I could tell she was saying how tiny and cute he was.

Most people I know say german is the hardest langauge to learn.  I've also been told it's the closest to english.  I really think a lot of the words and sentences sound like english to me.  I've always been weird like that though.  Things most people get, I'm clueless. And then the things most people don't get, like german, I don't think is so difficult. 

The hard part about trying to learn and speak german where I live is that most people speak english.  Even when I try to speak german, like at a restaurant for example, the people just come back to me in english. 

There are many, many times when knowing german would have been highly beneficial to me.  But for the most part when I say "Mein deutsch ist nicht sehr gut" (my german is not very good) people will either respond in english or we will point and signal our way through conversation.  I haven't had any really rude encounters.  I've dealt with the occassional person who seems annoyed, but that is to be expected. All in all the people are far more friendly that I would have expected.  I know back home spanish speakers or people with a thick indian accent aren't treated so nicely.  Ever seen the fb page that says to like "I live in America I shouldn't have to press 1 to speak english"?

So glad it's not like that here.

But today was one of those days where I really wish I knew how to speak and understand more.  Two repair men came to my house and didn't speak any english at all. (duh I live in Germany!)  They were here to fix our heaters because it has been freezing.  (side note: We don't have central heating here.  We have radiators in each room.  I actually like that better.  Saves money to centralize the heat in the rooms you spend time in).  I knew a few words like "kaput" and "danke".  And that's how we communicated.  I pointed to the radiator and said "kaput".

They kept saying something to me in german even though I said I don't speak it and then would speak louder as if that would somehow magically make me understand.  Thank God for internet because I was able to have the guy type into google translate. 

And then tada!  I learned why the heat wasn't working.

So lesson of the day: I won't always have google translate with me.  Wifi doesn't work everywhere.  I should learn to speak the language of the country in which I live.


  1. Please share why it was not working! We're freezing. I think Chris made the heaters even worse than before!

  2. It's such an isolating feeling to not speak the language of the country you're living in, even if you live with english speakers. My French has come along way, but I still couldn't have a serious discussion with someone or let my personality shine through.
    We'll get there one day :-)

  3. Haha, well you're not the only one. I studied german for two years and allthough I still understand alot I can barely say two words. I've however kept my french which I started studying at 13. This summer while working close to Nice I realised that I actually speak the language. I'm 27 now. So, if it's any consolation it takes a really long time to fully integrate into another language. Specially if everyone insist on talking in english. :)

    Hang in there!