Tag Archives: German TV

Attacking German

I’ve been living in Germany for over a year now and my German has come a long way from the “My name is Linda. I come from Ireland.” I arrived with. Of course, I still haven’t come as far as I would like and my natural lack of patience isn’t helping. But instead of bitching about it, I’ve come up with a goal – be B1 level by the end of the year, and B2 by this time next year.


What a difference a few months makes…

As you can imagine, this is going to take a lot of time and effort so, in a bid to succeed, I have launched a multi-pronged attack on every aspect of the German language.

The first, and probably most obvious, step was to start taking private German lessons. I realised pretty quickly that group classes weren’t really for me as listening to an Italian murder the German language didn’t do much for my German. Plus, I get to talk about myself – a lot – and my teacher has to listen to me because I’m paying her to do just that. I’m sure the comedy value she gets out of listening to me babble away about my life is almost as dear to her as the money. I think it’s probably the most entertaining 75 minutes of her week. I also go to a “Bier trinken und Deutsch sprechen” evening once a month which is I think is pretty close to being the most fabulous idea ever.

Drinking and talking – two things I’m very good at.
My friend Simone over at Lady of the Cakes is kindly helping me out by sending me a language challenge every day. These are met with spectacular language fails on my side.

Simone: How would you say “The leaves will have turned red.”?

Me: What? That’s future perfect! I couldn’t possibly know that at my level!

Simone: It’s supposed to be a challenge.

Me: Germans…

Simone: Go on, try. 

Me: (Google translating “the leaves”)

Simone: Come on. 

Me: The leaves…

Simone: Good start.

Me: The leaves *utter nonsense*

Simone: NEIN!

Me: The leaves *more utter nonsense* 

Simone: NEIN! 

Me: *something vaguely resembling German*

Simone: Better.

Me: The leaves will have turned red. 

Simone: JA! 

And then I rejoice and congratulate myself – until the next day.

Trips to my local bar are a great way to get me talking in German – and nicely lubricated. The old men in there have a bit of a soft spot for me so are more than willing to let me torture them with my Saudeutsch while engaging in some harmless knee-patting. If the hand starts moving up my leg, it’s time to go.

I also watch German TV every day. Frauentausch (Wife Swap) is great for learning vocabulary related to avoiding getting a job, and Die Höhle der Löwen (Lions’ Den) is doing wonders for my business German. It doesn’t hurt that I have a major crush on one of the Wolves. Yes, Jochen Schweizer, I’m talking about you.

Swoon (image taken from gruenderszene.de)

My fascination with the man has gone so far that I’ve even bought his latest book and am attempting to read it. I underline every word I don’t understand while reading on the train, then look them up when I get home and compile them into a glossary in a file saved as “Jochen”. I’m almost sure it’s not as creepy as it sounds.

Dreamy man…

The next step will be to find a German boyfriend. Any takers? I figure it’s cheaper to ask here than to join an online dating site. However, I am also thinking about doing that, mainly to see if German men like sending dick pics as much as their Latvian counterparts.

There could be fun times ahead…


You can find Simone’s blog here – https://ladyofthecakes.wordpress.com/

You can read about my Latvian online dating adventures here – https://expateyeonlatvia.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/from-your-sofa-no-one-can-hear-you-scream/




It’s all about now

“Scheiße” (shit), “genau” (exactly), and “ach so…” are probably the three things you will hear Germans say most often. Sometimes I feel like I’m in Japan I hear “ach so…” so often.

While picking up these few words was easy enough, clearly my German needs improving. I’ve been watching a bit of German TV, and although I can’t understand most of what’s going on, I’m definitely picking up a few words here and there. “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” is definitely beyond me though – I’m still trying to read the question, and they’ve already answered it and moved on.

While it’s true that a lot of Germans speak passable English, I don’t want to be one of those English-speaking people that just assumes everyone speaks English – you know, if you say it LOUDER and more s-l-o-w-l-y, then of course the foreigners will understand…

Passable English
Passable English

Considering I’ve only been here around six weeks, I don’t think I’m doing too badly. However, I have no past and no future in German; I can only speak in the present. While Germans say that they don’t like small talk, they are, in fact, rather chatty. So, in the supermarket, or in a restaurant, you’ll hear me saying things like “I live in Latvia four year and now I live in Berlin six week”. Still, they seem to understand – or at least they pretend that they do – even though my grammar and pronunciation are all over the shop.

So, I’ve been working away on Duolingo by myself, learning such useful expressions as “The dog has a horse” and “We are drinking the water”.

Yes, she did.
Yes, she did.

I’ve been flying through levels, earning Lingots left, right and centre. I breezed through basics, food, clothes, animals, phrases, plurals and adjectives, feeling smug that this German lark was so much easier than I’d expected – or maybe, just maybe, I was some kind of language whizz-kid and I’d never realised it before…

My confidence sufficiently boosted, I decided that, in order to really make progress, I would have to start taking proper lessons. So, I contacted a school that does evening classes and asked about the next available beginners’ course. I felt like I just had to add that I’d been studying online as well – just so they knew that I wasn’t their average hopeless beginner.

The nice lady said that as I had previous German experience, I should take a placement test. Ha, no problem – their puny German test would be no match for my awesome language skills. You’d think that by the ripe old age of 36, I’d have more sense. And more humility.

My ego deflated slightly as I was taking the test – I’d say I understood around 10% of it. Still, as it was multiple choice, I figured I had to be right at least some of the time. What would my result be? I was excited to have my genius acknowledged.

Five, yes, FIVE out of forty.
Five, yes, FIVE out of forty.

You read it correctly – 5/40. Scheiße. And they even said “Congratulations!” – though I’m not sure what for. I got a fit of the giggles when I read it, and reminded myself not to be so damn cocky in future. My German sucks. I now have that in black and white.

But it will get better – this is as much of a certainty as the smell of weed that hits you every time you walk out of the train station at Warschauer Straße. My course starts on the 4th of November and, of course, I’m secretly hoping to be the best in the class.

Let’s hope I learn German faster than I learn life lessons.