Learning a foreign language

Can you speak another language? I know most of us were required to take a foreign language in school but let’s be honest, that isn’t meant for us to learn a language as it is so much to check a box off on a curriculum, at least it seems designed that way. I took German for four years in high school and the first three were practically all German history with almost no language learning. It wasn’t until we got a new teacher my senior year that we really began to learn anything. She had to essentially start from scratch in teaching us because while we knew a lot about WWII, we barely knew how to construct a sentence outside of “my name is…”

I took German again in college after I tested into the higher level so rather than take three German classes, I needed to only take one to meet the requirement. This class combined German history, literature, TV, and daily interaction but was primarily spoken in German which was where most of the learning came from. However, due to the low German we spoke and in many instances, it wasn’t required, I didn’t retain much when I finished the class. The following semester, I enrolled in a class on German literature. After the first day I dropped it. It was spoken completely in German, too fluent for me to understand, and it required the reading of all the stories and speaking about them in German. At the time, I couldn’t even hold a conversation in correct German let alone get graded on it and when the instructor, the same one from my previous German class, told us there was a five minute presentation due every month, all in German, I knew it was time to go.

While I know that was the right choice for me at the time, even after college I’ve still had the desire to become fluent in German but I can’t seem to find many German speakers here in Chicago to practice with. Yes, there are Germans here but German speakers? Not so much. Luckily, my girlfriend’s mom speaks fluent German as does her grandma and they’ve both said they’d be happy to help me learn. On top of that, I’ve been listening to news podcasts in German to get a feel for hearing the spoken language but also I purchased Rosetta Stone for it a while back and have been more active in using it. While it may not be as commonly used as Spanish in the United States today, I plan to make use of it. I’ve always wanted to be fluent in another language and having picked German when I was young not only due to my heritage but my interest in the culture, I know which one I want to focus on.

Do you speak another language? Were you raised speaking it in your house or did you learn it in school or on your own? If you learned it on your own, please tell me your secrets!

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