When the wonderful “Lady of the Cakes” published her post on “How to be a hater with German food phrases”, I immediately did what any sane person would do and started insulting one of the (three) people I know in Germany.
Me: Du gehst mir total auf den Keks! (You are totally getting on my nerves!)
Wolfgang: What? Why?
Me: Das ist nicht mein Bier. (That’s not my problem.)
Wolfgang: You’re mean.
Me: Das ist mir Wurst! (I don’t give a rat’s ass!)
Wolfgang: OK then, I’ll leave you alone.
Me: (Crap, crap, what’s “I’m sorry” in German? Something with “mir” and “leid”…) Ich mir leid?
Wolfgang: Ha ha! You just said you’re tired of yourself!
But, it actually turned out to be quite an appropriate mistake. You see, I am tired of myself. I’m tired of my excuses and my sporadic, half-hearted approach to learning German. While I think I’m quite a good English teacher, it turns out that I am a terrible German student. All of the amazing pearls of wisdom that I dole out to my students fall on deaf ears when I try to motivate myself.
Work, Facebook chat (and Scrabble), pilates, TV, socialising, blogging, napping – all of these things have won out, at one time or another, over my German studies. It doesn’t help that my tongue just does not seem to work in a German way (which I guess rules out the German porn industry if the teaching thing doesn’t pan out). I listen to the CD or the nice person on Youtube – it sounds pretty simple. I try to repeat it and end up producing word vomit. The German ‘ch’ makes me sound like a cat choking on a hairball, while the articles make me… hmm, is it nap time?
My stupid sense of humour is also a hindrance. For example, when I came across the sentence “Vater, du bist zu dick”, my immature brain had translated it into “Father, you’re such a dick” before I could stop it. Finding out that “dick” is actually German for “fat” resulted in peals of laughter and me heading over to Google Translate to find out what “dick” is in German. Lesson terminated due to general hilarity.
The upshot of all of this is that I now know I am not a good solo student. While I think I sound angry in German, the only speaking “partner” I have is my new pet fly, and he’s not great at giving feedback.
But thankfully I’m not alone when it comes to language-learning woes. Naturally, I’m really fond of my students and it makes me happy when they do well. However, now that I’m a fellow student, it also comforts me (slightly) to know that I’m not the only one who makes a complete balls of things sometimes. I give you a selection of some of the weirder conversations I’ve had in the last few weeks:
Me: (showing a picture of a shifty-looking woman sneaking around an office) What adjective would you use to describe how she looks?
Me: Perhaps, but I think the word you’re looking for is “furtive”.
Dangering: Are you tasty?
Me: (Bom-chicka-wah-wah) What??
Dangering: Are you tasty? Is you tasted? Did you tastering?
Me: STOP. Do you mean “Have you tasted it?”
Gunta: I’m having some dark curtains made. I can’t sleep because it’s so bright all the time. The only problem is, it will take about a week to get them.
Me: You could try black sacks in the meantime.
Gunta: Black sex?
Me: That could work too.
Anyway, I’d better go and make sure Wolfie is still talking to me. God knows, I need all the practice I can get.