My German Learning Progress – Update

Well, that is week one of my two-week intensive German studies over, and it has been one of the busiest weeks of my life.

I am staying in the beautiful home of the teacher (actually, she is the school owner) and her husband, and each day comprises one-on-one lessons from 9am to around 4pm. Meals are taken with the family, and free time is also spent predominantly with them.

Being private tuition as opposed to class based lessons, the programme is tailored to my particular needs, and in my case it is a combination of grammar, phonetics and comprehension. Of course, I am finding the German grammar the hardest element to get to grips with, but also the fact that the entire day is pretty much solid German means I am feeling mentally exhausted quite often and on occasions emotionally drained too. The latter was a surprise to me – on Wednesday evening I just felt like jelly and incredibly homesick to the point where I thought to myself “why the hell am I doing this?”. I think this was the result of exhaustion from the intensive studies and the fact that it started to hit me that all my efforts to date really have only lightly scratched the surface of the vast sphere of the German language. My teacher came to the rescue and after half an hour or so I was back on track and ready to face yet another German social gathering, but I have to admit there are still occasions when I really feel I need to be alone but cannot without appearing rude.

In order to break the routine, I do also have another teacher who comes for some of the time. She is from Bamberg University and specializes in phonetics. I recommend to anyone who is considering doing any German course to include some phonetic tuition as it something that is usually not done  in the basic group courses, and the problem with that is bad pronunciation becomes ingrained and very difficult to correct later on. My teacher has taught me things such as how to recognize where stresses occur in words, and she has also taught me some great techniques to pronounce things clearly and correctly. Incidentally, these techniques will also help me with my English pronunciation, as I speak quite fast and sometimes with a heavy English accent which non-native English speakers find difficult  to follow.

Socially, the course is superb and virtually every evening an activity has been arranged by my host teacher and her husband which gives me an opportunity to practice what I have learned whilst at the same time meeting the natives. For example, On Saturday we went to the wedding party of some people I met on my very first day and it was super – Bavarian wine and beer, plentiful food, singing and lots of talking with a wide range of interesting people.

Criticisms? I would not say I have any really. As I mentioned earlier, not having much ‘alone’ time is difficult for me as I am quite introvert. Also occasionally in my “free” time my teacher will really pester me to arrange my papers or to do some physical exercise, but to be fair I know she is doing it purely with my own interests at heart and I have to stubbornly accept that she is right. However, these points are more observations than criticisms.

All in all, after the first week I am very pleased with every aspect of the course, and I feel I have made good, steady progress which is not bad after only a week. I still have one more week to go and will give my final review along with full details of the school and the courses they offer after that so stay tuned.

0 thoughts on “My German Learning Progress – Update

  1. Guten Tag, mein lieber Freund! Es tut mir leid, dass du das Erlernen der deutschen Sprache so schwer findest. Doch hast du die richtige Methode gewählt und wirst nach der 2. Woche dich schon viel besser fühlen und auf deine Erfolge stolz sein. Well, so much for the German lesson from Canada. I hope that you overcome your frustration with the grammar and with not getting time to be by yourself. Halt die Ohren steif!

    • Thanks Peter. The frustration really stems from my own expectations. I think many of us believe we can run before we can walk, and learning a language as an adult is a long and arduous process which is easily underestimated. I am really pleased with my progress and have no regrets about doing such a course as it was money well invested in my future. No teacher can wave a magic wand to make someone an expert in a language – it is entirely down to the individual to have sensible expectations, a suitable plan to monitor progress against and above all, the will and enthusiasm to learn even when the odds are seemingly stacked against him/her.

  2. James says:

    That sounds pretty full on and probably what I need to take me to the next level. I think I might find the evening activities a bit overwhelming.

    Thanks for being so candid – its of real value to any of us thinking of doing a similar course.



    • I will give full details of how it all went along with details of the course in my next posting when I finish next week. F course, this is just a step on a long road, by it has been a positive step and one I feel has been done using the best route for me.

  3. lorraine robinson says:

    Hi, I would be really interested in this type of course, how long does it last and what would it cost, I would appreciate if you could send me some details. thanks Lorraine

  4. Andreas says:

    Hi Simon,
    ich finde es wirklich ausserordentlich, daß du diese Tortur auf dich nimmst Deutsch zu lernen (I am impressed that you are torturing yourself)
    Interessant finde ich, daß du deine Speziallehrerin hast, die sich um deine Aussprache kümmert (pronounciation in Germany has the same variances as in the UK. People from Bamberg in Franconia are twisting T and D and G and K). Besonders zutreffend finde ich deine Feststellung, daß man angesichts der Schwierigkeiten im fortgeschrittenen Alter eine Sprache neu zu erlernen, schon stolz auf das Erreichte sein muss/kann, wenn man die eigenen Erwartungen nicht so hoch steckt (not meeting too high ambitions may cause frustrations). Ich habe meinen Arabischkurs nach 2 Monaten ohne erkennbare Fortschritte abgebrochen, weil ich mit der häufig vokalfreien Schrift große Probleme habe und ich als visueller Mensch Sprache nur über das geschriebene Wort erlernen kann (now Matthar is teaching me one word or phrase per day, which is much more efficient than a paid teacher – alhamdulillah)
    Enjoy und noch viel Spaß

    • Hi Andreas and thanks for your comment.

      The learning is not so much tortuous – it is more frustrating. The biggest annoyance for me is my memory is not so active as it probably was 35 years ago when I was at school, and recalling even just the basics is a challenge!

      I have just about finished my second and final week of the one on one lessons and I feel I have made good progress and my two teachers have encouraged me by confirming that.

      The Frankonian accent is the heaviest I have had to deal with so far – In contrast I managed okay in Hamburg, the Ruhr, Mosel, and even bits of the former DDR. I have loved every minute of it though, and am planning on coming back to Bamberg for a month or two later in the year.

      Arabic is not too difficult and I found it a bit easier than German thanks to the fact it only has one Article, although that concept took a bit of getting used to.

      By the way, the forecast for Zell is 33 Grad on Saturday 🙂

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