So I’ve been meaning to get on here more often now that I’m back in Germany and write a bit more. Sheesh, where does the time go? Oh, yeah..to learning German. That does take up quite a bit of time, and definitely a lot of energy, too. The finish line is in sight, however: I have a test for my language school next week (that I’m not feeling terribly optimistic I will pass as I’ve heard it’s pretty difficult), then we have a short course on German politics, customs, etc. followed by a test on that subject matter, and finally the big test for the government in the middle of December (that if I pass successfully, we’ll get half of the money back that we’ve spent on the class). Then my integration course is officially finished, and unless I want to learn further, that’s it for German. The good news is that the test that is really important for me – the one for the government – isn’t very difficult. We’ve taken two practice versions of it, and I found them both fairly easy. It’s most heavily weighted on speaking. I don’t speak perfect German by any stretch of the imagination, but they care more about that you are communicating and getting your ideas across, even if you make lots of grammatical mistakes and don’t speak perfect German. So I think I’ll be okay as I can hold a basic (albeit imperfect) conversation over simple subjects.
I’m not sure whether I want to continue learning German in the near future or not. I definitely wouldn’t go back to learning further until February at the earliest because I’m most likely flying back to the US in January to celebrate a “late” Christmas with family there. Then we will probably have quite a bit going on this spring with me needing to study for my German driver’s license, the Mr. taking his spring vacation…so I don’t know. At the moment, my feeling is that I really need to speak better German before I should learn more grammatically. That might sound sort of backwards, but the problem is that the grammar we’re learning is so complicated that I feel like I could grapple with it better and take in more if I could actually understand more and speak more fluently. The class I’ve joined for this last section of my course is really interesting as it has quite a few people who can already speak quite well and understand pretty much everything said to them (for various reasons, such as having a German mother or having already lived in Germany for TEN years…no joke, we share the same class!), whereas I have to struggle more to understand what my teachers are saying to me, whether it’s explaining the grammar or telling a funny story. I especially struggle with one particular teacher, and understand perhaps 50-60 percent at best what he’s saying to us for four hours a day. They don’t have this problem, and I feel like that gives them a real advantage at being able to take in and quickly utilize the new grammar that’s being taught (also because they no doubt have a better “ear” for it, so to speak). So we’ll see. Never say never, as I think learning German at a higher level could definitely be a good idea at some point, but I’m just not sure I’m ready for that yet. Plus I’m pretty burnt out. I had hoped that when I came back from my two-month break I’d be ready to study for two or three hours every night as my language school recommends, but nope…when I get home, I’m tired and I want to do other stuff, not learn German. After having already learned it for four hours, my brain just wants to relax and do something else. I do my homework and that’s it.
On the other hand, I know it’s probably best in theory to just plow through to whatever level it is you’re hoping to accomplish, and long breaks are not your friend. I don’t feel like I need a “high” level of German at the moment in my daily life here, but I know my needs may change at some point, for example if I begin to look for a job or want to study something at the university. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.