Our German teacher hates us

Or maybe she just hates all people, or life in general – it’s hard to say.

We’re at the end of the seventh week of the course. In that time, we’ve had three different teachers. The first teacher hightailed it to Düsseldorf to get away from us; we had a really nice teacher for one week who greatly helped our pronunciation and seemed genuinely interested in improving our German in general; now we have the hippy from hell. She seems more interested in picking at the holes in her leggings and playing with her “white person dreads” than she is in us.

She seems to forget that while we may not be very clever in German, we’re actually a pretty smart bunch in real life – a scientist, an economist, an engineer… Naturally, she took an instant dislike to the poor Italian, who she treats as if he has the IQ of a baked bean. I don’t think she’s realised that taking the piss out of him in German, which she does frequently, is totally wasted on him as I’m the only one who can understand her.


Thankfully, I only have two more lessons to go, as I only booked eight weeks to begin with. Frankly, I’m not overly impressed with the school, the teachers, or the organisation of the classes. As a teacher, it’s pretty easy to spot when another teacher shows up with no idea where we are in the book, or what we had for homework, and this is the impression I get here.

However, I do feel that I’ve gained something from the classes, though probably not as much as I’ve gained from my flatmates, Dietmar and total strangers. I’m kind of in love with the German language so I’m constantly experimenting with the few words I do have, believing that I’m speaking Deutsch, when in reality, I’m speaking Denglish.

Me: Hallo, schlaf-y Kopf.

Hildeberta: What?

Me: Sleepy head. Schlaf-y Kopf.

Hildeberta: Ha ha ha! NEIN, that does not work in German. You have to say “Schlafmütze”!

Me: Schlafmütze. Yes, I like that. 

Hildeberta: Just be careful you say “Schlaf” and not “Schlaff”.

Me: What? They both sound the same. What’s the difference?

Hildeberta: “Schlaf” means sleep. “Schlaff” means “limp dick”.

Me: Right. Well, I guess that could come in handy too… 

On Wednesday night, we were out as it was Hildeberta’s last night before she took off for the depths of southern Germany for Christmas.

Me: Hurrah for delicious Glühwein – hoch fünf! 

Hildegard: What? 

Me: Hoch fünf – high five.

Hildegard: Bah haha! No German has ever said that EVER! 

Me: Why not? It makes perfect sense.

Hildegard: Yeah, I guess you’re right…

“Hoch fünf” is now the running joke in our apartment. I’m hoping it will catch on in the rest of Germany too. Who’s with me?

While the girls are sweet and patient, Dietmar treats my German language-learning like German boot camp. Some evenings when I go round there, I feel like I’m being initiated into the German army, rather than relaxing with a glass of Cognac.

Dietmar: What is that in German? (Points at the fridge)

Me: I don’t know. 

Dietmar: “Kühlschrank” – say it. 

Me: Kühlschrank. 

Dietmar: Gut. What is that in German? 

Me: I don’t know. I’m tired…

Dietmar: NEIN! You will learn! Drop and give me twenty! 

Me: Sigh. 

He then instructs me to get various things from various places in the kitchen by giving me directions in German. He ends up with the toaster, kettle, corkscrew, mobile phone, bread… before I finally hand him the glass he was actually looking for. At least I find it funny.

However, bit by bit, I can see that I’m making progress – though obviously not fast enough for Dietmar. Yesterday evening, on my way to the train station, I decided to stop off at my favourite Glühwein stand on Friedrichstraße for a quickie before going home.


I got chatting to two really nice German women on their way home from work. Their English was pretty limited, so German was really the only option we had. To my amazement, they could actually understand me, and I could understand around 80% of what they were saying. I’m pretty sure I made hundreds of mistakes over the course of what turned out to be four Glühweine, but we muddled through.

So, I’m going to keep doing what I do – entertaining the Germans in my life with my hilarious German, while trying to make my own particular brand of Irish-German a real thing.

Hoch fünf everyone!




123 thoughts on “Our German teacher hates us”

  1. Schlaff means limp dick?! Wow – I never knew that and I’ve been living with these Germs for a while now. Schlaff will definitely come in handy, fnarr fnarr. Your blog has me chuckling all right. Love it. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Germs, belatedly of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With my two-month blogging break, I really have missed the humor in your posts … but this:

    “She seems to forget that while we may not be very clever in German, we’re actually a pretty smart bunch in real life …”

    … isn’t humor; it’s truth, it’s deep, and it describes so many of my emotions when I’ve been in Norwegian classes, or out trying to talk with the locals. The words I know make me feel so simple and almost stupid! I want to shout that I’m really a competent 56 year old woman. Really, I am! Ignore my Norsk language skills of a five year old.

    Høy fem back at you! Which you will never hear a Norwegian say, either. 🙂


    1. Ha, maybe you can start a trend! I have quite a few people saying it now! 🙂
      I have my last lesson with this chick tonight – not sorry about it! Will find another class soon. For now, I’ve got ‘German for Dummies’ cos that’s what I feel like in German most of the time! 🙂 Good luck with Norwegian – Høy fem! 🙂


  3. My friend and I have totally been saying ‘hoch fuenf’ too! For years! But only to each other and not any actual Germans. It pleases me to think you are making hoch fuenf really happen, hahaha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve really picked up so much German in so little time. Pretty soon you’ll be teaching German at that language school — sounds like you’d do a better job anyway.

    frohe weihnachten! 🙂


  5. Hoch fünf!
    Huh, so, four wines is a quickie post-work stop? Man I miss your style.
    Are the Germans really so friendly and chatty, or is your particular brand of making friends with strangers to credit here?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure! I think Germans are fantastic but maybe I bring out the best in them 🙂 I’m just grinning all the time cos I’m happy to be there, so maybe that’s infectious! And one would have been a quickie – four was more of a slowy but it was great fun so I had no problem with the change of plan! 🙂


  6. Isn’t “hoch fünf” how Germans say “to the power of five”? So 2⁵ (=2x2x2x2x2=32) would be pronounced “zwei hoch fünf”.

    Berlin sounds like fun. I was there briefly in 2012, but ended up spending more time in the Waschsalon than anywhere else ^^


  7. Herrball does the same thing as Dietmar. He’ll just ask me what something is in German knowing that I haven’t got the slightest idea. He makes up for it with his patience for my horrible pronunciations, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. you know…there are many words I try not to use in Italian for fear of making a mistake like: ) “Ho bisogno di riparare le tette” (I need to repair my tits) as opposed to: “Ho bisogno di riparare il tetto” (I need to repair the roof)…are there are many, many more. Learning a new language is always fun…..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh gods, Dietmar reminds me of the Long-Suffering Husband. I’m spatially challenged, so he’s always drilling me. “What street is this?” “In which of the four cardinal directions are we traveling?” His belief that I am educable is touching…
    The German language has some serious pitfalls. How on earth can you tell the difference between the sound of “Schlaf” and “Schlaff”?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t 🙂 I think I’ll just mutter something and hope it’s clear which one I mean from context – e.g. if I’m pointing and laughing, then I probably mean ‘schlaff’ 🙂
      Your hubby sounds hilarious – I seem to have something inbuilt that makes me always walk in the wrong direction first – thank god for Berlin’s public transport; you can never go too far wrong!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Schlaf has a long a, so it’s like schlahf (imagine saying aaah at the dentist, only not quite that long). In schlaff the a is short, the way geordies would pronounce the a in Newcastle or grass.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Another convert! 🙂
      My flatmates were like:
      Where did you hear that?
      I didn’t hear it anywhere.
      Did you Google translate it or something?
      No, I just knew the word for ‘high’ and the word for ‘five’ so I stuck them together.
      Ha haha! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

              1. Btw, have you gotten there yet, were you actually use the language correctly but try to be a bit funny, and then you just get these serious looks/corrections from the native speakers?

                Like when I was living in Kiel and a flat mate was about visit some friends in Dresden. He came back in a couple of minutes, I commented “that was a quick trip” and he responded with “oh no, I just forgot something, it takes a few hours by train to Dresden”. He was off and I was still wondering which one of us missed something there… 😀

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Ha ha! I love the literalness! You don’t know whether to laugh or explain that it was a joke/sarcasm 🙂 I usually just laugh 🙂 I can’t wait until I’m good enough to be sarcastic in German 🙂

                  Liked by 2 people

  10. Hoch fünf to you.
    I am impressed you understand up to 80% of a German conversation.

    For me it changes, on a good day it might be 60% of an Italian conversation on a bad day 25%. Sometimes it can be as low as 1%. For example when I am told to take the rubbish out.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. My English is also very selective when it comes to anything housework related 🙂
      The conversation wasn’t that hard – just sort of general stuff. Still, they were quite impressed that I’d only been here 4 months 🙂 Happy Christmas to you too – hope you manage to avoid der wooden Löffel for a few days 🙂


  11. Right now I’m using Duolingo to “improve” my Spanish. Anyway, in the process of trying to speak Spanish, I’ve often thought about how native speakers of any language will mangle their own language by mumbling or mispronounciation … So why can’t non-native speakers do the same? Just sayin’ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s exactly what I’ll carry on doing! Hopefully some day it will all come together 🙂 Maybe I should mumble more actually – it’s my clear-spoken German that gets all the laughs 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You can understand what your teacher is saying when she ‘takes the piss out’ of that poor Italian person? Is your German sufficient now?

    I’ve been noticing that ‘piss’ is such a diverse word to Europeans. In North America it only means ‘angry.’ For example, “he’s pissed off.” That’s it, there’s no other meaning. or “I’m fucking pissed.” Which might mean I’m really drunk in your neck of the woods but here it means “i’m fucking angry.’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand the basics – and I can understand when she’s being mean! The poor guy really has made a lot of progress but she doesn’t realise that because she didn’t see him in the first few lessons…
      Yeah, piss is quite versatile in British English! We’d never say ‘pissed’ for angry though obviously I’m aware of that usage! It means drunk over this side of the pond.


      1. I met a lot of Europeans while I was in Australia. Met some Irish too. They promised to take me out for a ‘proper piss.’

        The one that made me laugh was “are you taking a piss at me?”…hahaha

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh right, it does mean that too in North America. “I’m going to go take a piss.” The “loo”…hahaha Equivalent to the North American “can”…haha The ‘can’ sounds so primitive doesn’t it? Americans, always trying to sound tough…haha

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah, the Glühwein. I just returned to Spain from Germany and of course I had to drink all the Glühwein I could over there. My mother helped, which was fun. Hoch fünf to mothers and Glühwein! Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂 Hoch fünf! I’m really not sure what I’m going to do when the Christmas markets close – no more Glühwein 😦 I think I’m going to try to make Feuerzangenbowle instead… 🙂


  14. Too funny Linda – unload the whole kitchen to get to the phone. Ha! I must remember the Schlaff – it should be easy as it ends in laff, which is what is likely to haooen should one show up. About learning from your young teacher: I had a friend (Penny) who did a degree in Education (she already had a degree in Theater). Penny was, humm, how shall i say it? Irreverent and brave.She had a terrible teacher (teaching teachers) for one short credit, who insisted that she was open minded and progressive. meanwhile she threatened and ridiculed her students including Penny. The final paper could be on any topic the students chose as long as it related to teaching. Penny (God bless her soul) did a 25 page paper on how her teacher was so informative by doing everything that a teacher should never do. She spent 25 pages listing and explaining all the mistakes and using all her previous course information and personal experience to trash her teacher. She asked me to proof it and i couldn’t believe it. I begged her not to turn it in but she did. It was well written – the whole thing explaining how her teacher was a terrible example of what a teacher should be. Apparently her teacher was somewhat taken aback and asked to discuss it with Penny. After the discussion, Penny got an “A”.


    Have a great Christmas Linda! And stay away fom the Schlaffs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, that was brave! Fair play to her! I reckon I could get at least 25 pages out of this girl – and she’s so young! I’ve never seen anyone in their early twenties that world weary before! The guys in the class are terrified of her 🙂 Happy Christmas to you too! Laff-Schlaff 🙂


  15. Hahaha, I can just imagine you fetching everything in the kitchen for Dietmar!

    Did your housemates tell you that “Schlafmütze” literally means “sleep hat”?

    I love how literal some German words are. Like the fridge in your example… Kühlschrank literally means “cool cupboard”, which is exactly what it is! I also love Handschuh (literally “hand shoe”), Staubsauger (“dust sucker”) and Fingerhut (“finger hat”). Tell it like it is, Germans! Also, the German for slug is Nacktschnecke… which literally means “naked snail”. OF COURSE!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha! Naked snail is brilliant! Is a finger hat a thimble?? Dietmar was once filming a documentary and he was going on about the hand shoes they’d found in a bunker. The director was like ‘CUT! I think you mean gloves.’ Too cute! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Fingerhut is so cute – the German language is great 🙂 I’m not sure how often I’ll have to say ‘whisked egg white’ but I might try to work it into a few sentences to impress people 😉 Whenever I cook something, my flatmate feels my forehead to see if I have a fever 🙂


          1. I’ve never actually had to use Eischnee… I only know it because I once had to translate a recipe (I do bake, but my recipes are all English and I try to avoid ones that make me separate eggs!)

            Liked by 1 person

              1. damn it woman! how are we gonna marry you off to Dietmar or some other german guy? I guess you`ll come with a dowry (ten packs of guiness) and a cook book for your husband=)

                Liked by 2 people

                1. He would definitely have the Guinness all to himself! Luckily, there are lots of nice restaurants in Berlin! Or maybe I’ll start to enjoy it some day – unlikely 😉


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