Sunday, February 10, 2013

Faking it...til Ich mache es?

These football players near Kaiserslautern Hauptbahnhof want to know: why I am not speaking German yet?

Living in Kaiserslautern, for an English speaker, is really cheating, at least as far as getting around in one's own language. There are so many English speakers around here that it's almost as common to hear English being spoken as it is to hear German. I did take German lessons before I moved here, but I have been cheating horribly and have used English in my transactions.

I do plan to change that; I will continue to learn German, first, through a Community Ed type course offered on one of the bases. Then, I hope to either study with a US university that has a campus here or maybe even with the Volkshochschule, which is basically like the local community college. The latter option is a bit scary for me though because I think the entire class would be in German. Sure, it's the immersion method -- but I call it the irrational fear method because it seems just too daunting for my pea brain to take on. Then I feel incredibly guilty because I'm coming from a place of privilege; there are so many people who arrive to a new country where neither their primary or secondary languages are spoken and they are forced to a go of it.

I also have the fear of not saying things properly. However, the only way to improve one's foreign language skills is to actually speak the language. I don't want to say things until I can say them properly. I'll just have to get over that to improve things.

In the meantime, I feel horrible about not really speaking German here. Today, I faked that I speak German when I went shopping. Everything was insanely busy as it is on Saturdays; it's a mad dash to get all the weekday needs done since everything is closed on Sundays. To pretend that I fit in, I made sure I kept a total of what I was buying, had the correct change available, and had my German pleases, thank yous, and good days all ready to go. For the most part I faked it; when the clerk went to bag my items, I said "Ich habe" and held up my shopping bag (since I forgot the name for it). She smiled and handed me the items to stick in the bag. Since the clerks were so busy it usually worked. I was stuck when clerks asked me if I needed help and had to respond in English. I look forward to the day when I can do all of this smoothly and not stick out too much.

These players are too busy to care. Logenstrasse, Kaiserslautern

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