Reading Rainbow

*Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high…

If you grew up as a child of the 80’s, or perhaps raised a child during that decade, hopefully I have that theme song firmly embedded in your head now. It’s certainly in mine. Sadly, I have yet to find a German equivalent, as I’m sure it would be a great supplement to my classes. Thus far, all I’ve found are Disney spin-off animations or your typical (even in Germany) daytime soaps.

So. Deutsch Klasse. Thus far, it’s going pretty well. (As I mentioned before, I’m even semi-able to communicate with official peoples.) After a lot of procrastinating and registering (and then canceling) with the local community college, we settled on the local inlingua center, located just off the city center. Right now, I’m taking the full-time program (3.5 hours per day, 5 days a week) and Chad’s taking the part time classes (2.25 hours, 2 nights a week). I actually joined the class late (due to the previously mentioned procrastination) and took a week of private lessons (and spent every available hour studying) to catch up, as I’d missed nearly a month of class.

With over three hours a day of full German instruction, we’re certainly clipping along at a healthy pace. So far, we’ve covered introductions, a billion conjugations, giving directions, eating & drinking, possessives, prepositions and plenty of nouns. Were my English grammar a bit better, the whole thing might be easier, but it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about adverbs. Not to mention, getting my rusty brain into learning mode definitely took some work! It’s been at least five years since I could say I’ve learned something new every day, and it’s actually addictively fun. Since we’re still mainly learning new words, it actually isn’t too hard to quantify what knowledge I’ve attained each day. Using it in actual conversation is another story, but at least the tools are there, tucked away in some corner of my brain.

And while I have no memory of learning to read as a child, it seems every day I can read one more billboard or one more flyer. Essentially, I’m conscious of becoming a target of German advertising. Yesterday I might have ignored that junk mail, but today I might read it to pick out what words I know. It’s an odd feeling, but definitely a triumphant one. I’m sure the ad-agency’s are happy.

I’m still at a bit of a loss on how to better understand what people are saying to me though. No matter how much we practice in class, native speakers will always speak more quickly and with more slang than anything they can teach us. But, I suppose it will come. Patience was never one of my stronger suits and I suppose three weeks of class won’t quite make me fluent. However, if anyone wants to practice their German, feel free to shoot an email my way! Anything would be better than the bland workbooks we use.

…Take a look, it’s in a book, the Reading Rainbow…*


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