Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hallo, ich heiβe Chris

[ Hello, my name is Chris ]

Tuesday marked the first day of language class - and this morning I actually was able to follow the same little ritual as the morning before, nice and relaxed, and still make it to the right bus at the right time. I had my backpack ready with my dictionary and fresh binders, and the only thing missing was my mom at the foot of the bus to take a picture of me on my first day of school.

We really didn't know what do expect with the language school, other than the fact that it lasted for 7 hours and that it was going to be a LOT of German to learn each day. At 8:30 walked in a tall lady with a short haircut that just started speaking only in German. Some students eyes got bigger, some probably tried to keep a poker face - there was no time to prepare for introductions, they were now, auf Deutsch. I at least had a few weeks of introduction to the language, but a few of the Americans took the blank slate approach for preparations. Individually each person had to answer the questions asked of us - who we were, where we lived, where we were from - which is a difficult task with the vocabulary of some being "Hallo and Scheiβe"... Finally the teacher introduced herself, Frau Bopp, yes that is her name, and only after a considerable while did she even say one word of English.

The basics came fast, and we were already filling in spaces in our new textbooks. For some this was their first foreign language ever, making the concept of conjugating verbs to speaker, and declinating words to gender as foreign as knowing how many liters make a gallon ( because this is asked of us as if we Americans know on the spot to calculate gas prices ). For others, experience in Spanish (ha... Japanese...) was not a tool to learn German grammar. As the day went on Frau Bopp infused a little more English into the mix, but I will accredit her to leading our class with a fair amount only German instructions - daunting but very useful.

Our class is divided up into three types of instruction: Basistraining [ German Grammar ], Kommunikationstraining [ Conversation practice ], and mediothek [ media based learning ]. Overall we will receive a well-rounded introduction on our path to learning "functional German," as we are told we will speak, when we arrive at our first university classes in two months.

Very quickly I got into the swing of things. Just like getting used to a sans-sweet breakfast, or dairy products at room temperature, finding excitement in using a dictionary takes some getting used to - but now, I am looking up words all the time - like me, who wouldn't want to see if it is masculine, feminine or nueter!

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