About Four months ago, I relocated to Deutschland! I had mixed feelings of course; how was it going to be? Would I like it? What of the language barrier? Seeing is believing they say; Well, here I am today freezing..as expected and getting answers to all my questions through experience. I partly regret leaving the amazing Kenyan sun, but despite the ounce of regret I still believe this new journey is totally worth it.
Well let’s talk about my biggest challenge in this integration process; the elephant in the room, Deutsch! To date, I can’t type Deutsch without referring to google or a book, that’s how bad it is… ha ha ha.
In an integration process, it’s important to learn the local culture especially the language. For everyday communication, to get a job, go to school, make new friends, you must learn the local language of your new habitat. This is not an easy process as I assumed it would be.
I speak three languages fluently, namely; English, Swahili and Luo. So naturally, you’d expect me to have an easy time learning a fourth one. Contrary to that expectation, I’m having a hell of a hard time learning German. I can only compare it to mathematics and for me, that was and still is only comparable to rocket science. I’m exaggerating a little of course.
I took a German course for three months back in Kenya, A 1 level which is the very basic beginning and that wasn’t fun. I only learnt how to introduce myself and the very basic words. It was all too much for me to learn and comprehend in three months . Plus I wasn’t practicing after school because, I would speak other languages but German. Lets say I could; whom would I speak with? All my family and friends don’t speak any German.
After the three months elapsed, I had to take an exam which was a visa requirement and the pass mark was 60 out of a possible 100 points. Fair…huh? Guess what? I flopped the exam on my first attempt. Though expected, I felt below par because this course wasn’t cheap and neither was the exam fee! I felt like I really didn’t put in a lot of effort and that was true because I had no interest in learning this language! I had to do it because I was expected to do it and pass. I was under pressure, but that’s not an excuse I wasn’t ready to pass then!
Well, I had exactly One month before my Embassy appointment to retake the exam and knowing what was at stake, I decided to gather all possible reading materials and do some research on the fastest way to learn a new language, German in particular. It wasn’t easy I admit, but I had the will and the interest and that was the first important step. On the second attempt I was confident and prepared for the exam and I did it…I passed and it felt so good I should have done it on the first attempt.
You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once – Czech proverb.
I really thought I was done with the difficult part of learning German, but surprise! It had barely hit the climax, it was just getting started. I enrolled to a language school and that’s when it all got real. The first month was fairly easy as it was basically introduction and I was good at that. Oh, did I mention that I was on the same boat with other Deutsch newbies? Yes I was, and that was the icing on the cake for me. All of us struggling to make a simple sentence like “I enjoy travelling”, was something I must say! A beautiful mess.
Three months into the course and things are getting more and more complicated by the day. There have been moments when my colleagues and I understood nothing but chose to keep trying. Imagine learning a word as complicated as “Verpflichtungserklärung” or “Einreiseerlaubnis”. Catastrophe! The more I learn the more confused I get.
Lots of speaking, reading and listening practice is helping me but it’s not as easy as I thought it would before coming here.Most importantly, I know my purpose for learning this language so whenever I feel like giving up, I envision my life being jobless and without a social life and I know that would destroy me so I keep pushing on because I really want to master it and start feeling at home.
Most German words have articles. And these articles are classified into masculine, feminine and neutral. So there’s a lot of das, der and die which change depending on a couple of grammatical factors which I can’t explain yet, owing to the fact that I’m still learning too. But, it is for sure very complicated how das, der and die become dem, den etc. The grammar part is the most complex aspect for me. In fact, when it comes to German grammar, I wish I had photographic memory.
Speaking three languages complicates it further. When I learn a new German word, I try to remember is by translating it to all the three languages. Unfortunately, by the time I’m done, the German word being translated will have long evaporated. ha ha ha. That’s funny, I know.
It’s a tough ride but like every cloud with a silver lining, I’ve been able to meet and make friends from all over the world. Ireland, Colombia, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Syria, Angola, Algeria and Poland; these are the countries my classmates in the Deutsch integration course are from. It’s always a breath of fresh air to be around good people and my classmates are simply amazing. We also have two amazing teachers from Russia and Romania, who make the whole course interesting and worth learning because they were once in our shoes.
What guides me?
- Learning a new word daily.
- Attending classes faithfully.
- Watching YouTube lessons.
- Speaking as much German as I can.
- Above all, I know the importance of this language to me so I’m doing it for a purpose and that really counts.
- Watching German kids movies and kids books too.
To have a another language is to posses a second soul – Charlemagne.
Learning a new language is hard, especially German. It has been done by many meaning it can be done by any. All you need is a purpose and interest. To anybody out there who speaks fluent German as a foreign language, I respect you! I know I can do this and I’m going to. Good luck to me and everybody out there learning a new language. Till next time, Tchüss!
Zitat: A different language is a different vision of life. – Federico Fellini