Archive for the ‘Learning German’ Category

Expanding my World

Friday, September 26th, 2008

In the second day of German classes we discussed where everyone was from and what languages they speak. I’ve spent most of my adult life in very white, very uni-lingual cities (London, Ont and Victoria, BC) and was amazed at how I was the odd person out. 7 people were from Turkey, 2 from Serbia, and the others from Iraq, Afghanistan, Romania, Egypt, Czech Republic, and me from Canada.

The languages that the 16 of us speak are: German, English, Serbian, Italian, Slovakian, Czech, Persian, Hindi, Romanian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabian, French and Russian.

One woman, Ana, was from Serbia but had spent the last 16 years in Russian. She spoke English well and we were able to chat. At break about 6 of us go for coffee and it is pretty interesting trying to piece together a conversation. Since everyone is struggling, it is easier to make an attempt. Very good practice.

Annie is also making out well with her daycare. Her clear verbal skills in English are helpful, as one of her caretakers, Gabby, speaks English well. And she certainly is picking up a lot of German; I’m sure she will be fairly fluent in a couple of months.

In other news, Markus left for Victoria yesterday morning for two weeks. Rebecca and I promptly got the flu and Annie has a cold. Good times on the home front. We’ll get through it, we’ll get through it….

School Daze

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Annie and I both had a big day today; I started German class while Annie tried out her daycare.

Dad took Annie to her new Kindergruppe. She is in a class of about 12, but there were only 8 children there today. This daycare has an easing-in period, so they only stayed 1 hour. Annie, of course, dove right in and enjoyed playing with the children and the toys. Tomorrow Markus is going to request that he leave for a bit, as Annie does better when we are not around and doesn’t seem to miss us. (I’m going to say that this is a positive thing.)

My German class was great. The teacher is enthusiastic and keeps things moving while ensuring we repeat the words and concepts often. For the first couple of hours his exercises all involved learning the 16 student’s names, which will certainly help us to get to know each other and feel like a class. I am the only native English speaker, but a few students speak a bit of English so I was able to chat with them at the break. I picked up a few of the  students’ stories already, and hope to hear more…it is so interesting to discover what leads people to move to a country where they don’t speak the language. So far:

– A mom who is in Tirol for the year while her 16-year old son attends a tennis school in Seefeld (about 30 minutes outside of Innsbruck)

– A veterinarian who is spending 3 years in Austria as part of his training (not sure why exactly yet)

– A young woman staying with her sister for a few months

Most of the students seem to be from Croatia, Slovenia, or Turkey. There is a real mix of ages, but everyone seems very keen to learn. Having reinforcements from multiple sources (newspapers, signs, conversations) is certainly going to help me to pick up the language. I imagine that by the time I’ve done the third or fourth 3-week course I’ll be able to chat a bit with the locals (as long as I pick up some of the Tyrolian dialect.) Very exciting!