On Friday night I was invited to a housewarming party where I was the only non-German in attendance. Usually at events, there is at least one other non-German there. I decided to use the party as a test of where my German currently is before I embark on the great Language Summer Challenge (you are all joining me on this, right?).
The other people there were extremely kind about my bad German and we spoke a mixture of German and English throughout the night, every one getting a chance to practice a language they weren’t so good at (except those that spoke exceptional English) and to relax in a language they were comfortable in. It was a rather fun evening.
However, the evening gave me a clear indication of where I’m having problems. Most of it, as I already knew, is with understanding spoken German. If I know what the subject of conversation is, then I can pick up the general gist of it. But I frequently get lost and it takes me some time after the topic of conversation changes to work out what everyone is talking about. At some points during the evening, I could not even work out what the topic was.
Then, of course, comes the challenge of speaking. Even if I knew what was being said, I had problems working out what I wanted to say quickly enough before the conversation moved on.
All of these issues are what thousands of people learning German before me struggled with and overcame and I am sure, with time, I will too. My plan is to boost the amount of TV and movies I’m watching in German and start listening to more audio books and podcasts – if anyone has suggestions of some great German podcasts, let me know. Also, I need to start being forced to speak German more and put myself into those scary sink or swim situations.
For those of you who have been where I am now, any hints or tips or things that worked for you to get over this frustrating stage will be more than appreciated. It will be interesting to see where my level of German is after the Language Summer Challenge is over.