Before I headed off to DrachenFest last week, I blogged my DrachenFest Language Challenge. Now it’s time for me to confess how I actually went.
I spoke German pretty much all of the time. The group I was with spoke only German to me – no English at all, except for the last night. The only time I spoke English was with my bilingual friend and in situations where my German completely fell apart – but these were rare. What I learnt from having to operate almost solely in German is that my German has a long way to go. I have massive gasps in my vocabulary particularly where verbs are concerned. I also learnt that the Saxon accent especially when spoken at great speed is almost impossible to understand. Did I mention that most of my group are Saxon? By the end of the week, I was able to understand much more of what they were saying then I was able to at the beginning of the week.
I also got up the courage to have conversations with people. I had a great 20 min conversation completely in German with one of the healers from our camp. The conversation stayed well within topics that I can talk about – where I’m from, what I’m doing in Germany, how hard it is to learn a foreign language and talking about what the other person does etc. It gave me a real boost that my German is coming along and I can actually converse with people in it.
I read both editions of the daily DrachenFest paper every day – yes, we got a morning and an afternoon paper delivered daily. There was quite a lot I didn’t understand in the paper, but it was a really good exercise.
I didn’t do any training in German, mainly cause I didn’t do any training. I got caught up in camp business and missed the fighting training and then ended up not doing any thief training as I wasn’t certain I wanted to go down that route. However, I did attend the Colloquium des Wissenschaft (at least I think that is what it was called) which was a series of lectures on the healing sciences. Again, I didn’t understand everything but I got the general gist of each lecture which ranged from hobbit nasal surgery to brain tumors to particle physics. I also got an education in alchemy and healing potions in German as well.
I actually learnt some grammar whilst at DrachenFest thanks to the slogans you shout to stir camp spirit. Slogans like Für den Schwarzen, Alles muss enden and Alles wird enden. That final one finally consolidated wird for me whilst Für den Schwarzen helped with those tricky adjective endings and the accusative case.
All in all, I’m happy with how things went at DrachenFest. It highlighted how much I need to learn but I don’t see this as a bad thing at all. Instead it gives me a clear indication on the areas I need to focus on. I made a promise to my group that by next year’s DrachenFest I will speak conversational German as I missed so much in not being able to participate much in our evening conversations around the dinner table. I fully intend on keeping this promise.
* The title Levelling Up at DrachenFest comes from Moses McCormick (laoshu) and his theory on levelling up in language learning which involves going out and making yourself talk to people in the language you are learning. I definitely did that at DrachenFest.