January 18, 2011

Deutsch oder Spanisch? Das ist die Frage.

I have a confession to make.

I have been cheating on the German language with Spanish. I know, I know. It’s really weird. I’m in Germany, trying to learn all about the German culture, but I’m learning Spanish instead. (Actually re-learning since I’ve already spent four years of my life studying it.)

I decided that, after spending (and surviving through) seven months in Germany and being completely immersed in the language, and with only five months left of my time here, it doesn’t make much sense for me to go on to a German language course. I’m not going to use German later in my life (unless I happen to come back to Germany someday) and I didn’t want to spend my money on it. I know enough to get by, it’s fine. I’m not worried about not knowing the language. It was a decision that I made a few weeks ago and, so far, I have yet to regret the decision.

After finding out about LiveMocha.com through a Blog Carnival a few months ago (I got 30% off LM prices for participating!), I looked into it as a resource for online German language lessons. I didn’t go through with it – it would have cost me more than I could afford at the time – but I kept Live Mocha in the back of my mind for future reference.

As part of my preparation for my return to reality in June, I’ve been researching the jobs that are available in California and that’s when I made up my mind to get back into Spanish lessons. 95% of all the jobs that I’ve come across in the area of education or child development have a bilingual requirement. And if it’s not a requirement, it’s a suggestion and that means that if I am bilingual – I’ll be chosen for the job over someone that isn’t. So, therefore, I thought… I am going to do this again. I studied Spanish for four years over the course of high school and college but I never became fluent. I can’t speak it and I can barely understand it. So, hopefully, over the next few months while I have nothing to do during the day I intend to continue with my Spanish lessons and hopefully gain enough fluency practice to be able to use it when I search for jobs this summer. German Schmerman!

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I’m finding that LiveMocha is a really, really great program. I am very satisfied with it. I think that the success of LM comes from the fact that it’s based on social learning – you join a community of people who are all learning a language. Native speakers of the language you are learning help review your lesson submissions in writing and speaking and then, in return, you do the same for those who are learning your native language. LM translates their critques to your lessons but I find that the further I go through my lessons, the less and less I need to translate. Within the review submissions, the reviewer can provide audio comments so that you can hear how it is supposed to sound in a native tongue. I find that I can’t get enough of it. Last night I spent about two hours straight just going through the English language lessons of people from all kinds of places – Brazil, Portugal, the Middle East, Mexico – and I couldn’t stop reviewing. I’m not a master at the English language but I like to think that I have a pretty good idea about what’s going on. I don’t know the details but I love helping people correct their grammar or provide them with audio so they can hear the pronunciation. It sounds crazy but it’s kind of instilled in me the desire to be an ESL teacher. I think I would LOVE to do that. I’m going to look into it the more that I learn and interact with LiveMocha and get better at Spanish. Fortunately I already have a BA in education and have taken courses in Spanish, linguistics, and teaching so becoming an ESL teacher would not be very difficult for me. I am very excited to have a goal ahead of me that I can see!

I was talking to one of my best friends about this and I mentioned that Germany is opening all kinds of doors for my self-renewal. I feel like I’m this brand new person with a big, wide open heart for the world and all of the possibility within it. That’s corny, I know, but I have really embraced the self-discovery of this whole experience and I am so excited to live my life everyday from now on.

Vielen Dank, Germany!

2 comments:

sirenosmiles said...

¡Bueno! Cuando vuelves, puedes hablar conmigo en español y ir al cine en nuestros pijamas!

Alena said...

Way to go!! :) I know a tiny bit of spanish, but not nearly enough. Nick and I plan to learn it, hopefully finding a class in Illinois once we're settled. Or maybe we'll look into LM?

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