Sunday, January 17, 2016

I can't possibly be this mystical beast

I'm bound and determined to (some day) become fluent in German for various reasons: I plan to live here for the foreseeable future; I enjoy a good intellectual challenge and enjoy school; and I want to be fluent in at least two languages. Therefore, I've earned an Associate Degree in German language and culture and have continued with classes at various German institutions.

The crazy thing is that all of the teachers at the German schools are surprised to see me. I've had about five of them remark on how rare I am. Well, the lower level teachers weren't so surprised because there seems to be Americans taking classes to the A2 level but beyond that, they seem to drop out. This is so strange to me because in the Kaiserslautern area, Americans are about half the population because of the military presence being based here. Also, the sad thing is that I'm not particularly good at speaking German, at least as far as pronunciation goes. One can tell that I have a basic command of grammar. Either way, though, it's sad that I'm an ambassador of German speaking because I'm not awesome at it.

Then again, many military-affiliated people are here for three years or fewer. Americans also aren't known for picking up a lot of foreign languages; after all, in our home country, the only two languages that are a majority in nearby countries are Spanish and French. It could be potentially difficult to find speakers of those languages in one's local community, depending on the region.

I still think that my fellow (somewhat) expat Americans should step it up a bit. If someone's going to live in a foreign country, he should learn as much as he can. He should be able to at least go shopping, order at a restaurant, and be able to ask for directions/help. I'd totally be okay with not being the mythical beast in Kaiserslautern: an American who speaks the local foreign language at an intermediate level.*

*Yes, there are actually some Americans here who do speak fluent German. It feels as if I'm friends with the majority of them, whether that's accurate or not ;)

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