The master becomes the student

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! 

Me: Scheiße.

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.

Ah, da bist du ja!

         Ah, da bist du ja!

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?

Jānis: Fertile.

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?”

Dangering: Yes. 

Me: (Bleep)

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. 

Probably not as effective as black sex

Probably not as effective as black sex

Anyway, I’d better go and make sure Wolfie is still talking to me. God knows, I need all the practice I can get. 



About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Expat, Humor, Humour, Language, TEFL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

113 Responses to The master becomes the student

  1. kutukamus says:

    Ha..ha.. I guess we do owe Wolfie quite a number of things.. Zugzwang, blitz[krieg].. as well as a bunch of ‘er’: frankfurter, wiener, hamburger.. 🙂

  2. bevchen says:

    Ich mir Leid. Hehehe! It’s “Es tut mir Leid”, which literally means “It does me pain” (I haven’t read the comments yet so you may know this by now). A lot of Germans actually say “sorry” now though, but the way way they say it sounds REALLY wierd. Something like Zorey. (They also say it for “excuse me”, when they’re not saying “Achtung” to get you to let them through… which I find SO RUDE!).

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! I didn’t think Achtung would be used like that – sounds a bit severe! Yeah, Wolfie corrected me when he stopped laughing 😉 At least I’ll never forget that one now!

      • bevchen says:

        Achtung means (Pay) Attention or watch out! so no, it shouldn’t be used like that, which is why I find it rude! The proper word would be Entschuldigung (which means “excuse me” but can be used for “sorry” as well, like if you bump into someone in a shop you’ll say “Entschuldigung”, not “Tut mir Leid”… Entschuldigung is more along the lines of “apologies” I suppose.)

        By the way, have you really met someone called Wolfgang or is that just a blog name to make him sound extra German?

      • Expat Eye says:

        No, I haven’t – it’s just the most German-sounding name I could think of! 🙂 Yeah, bumping into someone in a shop wouldn’t pain me that much 😉

  3. Emmi says:

    you seem like a funny type of student. your dialogue makes me think you look smth like this:

  4. ytaba36 says:

    Apropos of nothing, really, but this is from another blog I follow: You might have some thoughts on what was said!

  5. mmarinaa says:

    The names in this entry are pure gold. Ich liebe.

  6. Diana says:

    I have to tell you that I had 25 German friends one summer. yes…25 German army guys were working on a masters at the university of Houston for the summer – and they were all in one class?!? Anyway…I like to cook….so I was constantly feeding those guys. AND – – – I was their gateway to women (I had a ton of cute single friends and lots of sisters)…..ahhhh that was a fun summer. ANYWAY…back to German…those guys tried all summer to teach me the NUMBERS…..could never get it down….so good luck.

    I am assuming you saw that crazy game last night!

    PS: The black sex comment was very funny!

  7. New approach: do you think it would work if you tried to motivate people to learn languages by goading them into arguments? You don’t have to use food insults (unless you want to). (Although you’d always get bonus points for that, of course.)

  8. linnetmoss says:

    Word vomit! I am storing away that phrase in the certainty that I’ll be able to use it…

  9. A friend of mine was working on her oral German by listening Rammstein and singing along. It worked quite good for her. Maybe you should also try singing? I’ve heard it does magic. But please don’t ever try rapping in German. It feels like choking yourself with your own tongue. 😀

  10. Cindi says:

    Your posts are always a highlight; I get your sense of humor. Should that scare me? (Or scare you?)

    My mind is drawing a blank on Norwegian words that make me laugh except for one: “fart” = “speed” in English. Signs along the road warning of speed bumps ahead say “fartsdemper” which is too close to “farts dump” and, sadly, I realize that after seven years here I hardly notice the English joke anymore.

    Thanks to this post of yours, my next road trip will be more entertaining.

    So, after conquering German (or at least, understanding a lot of what’s going on around you when you move to Berlin), how many languages has your good ear and hard work given you?

    • Expat Eye says:

      If I remember correctly, I think ‘fart’ is ‘luck’ in Polish 😉 Hmm, my good ear is more of a bad ear, I think 😉 It’s far better at picking up on weird stuff than languages! But my French is passable (if rusty), I can understand and read Latvian OK but my speaking is pretty awful, and my German is now amazing 😉 Provided I can get by on ‘I’m sorry, I’m Irish’ for the rest of my life 😉

  11. rower says:

    yesterday, evening, smth between 9 and 11PM. half of old town was speaking german. just hilarious. maybe you should go out and hunt ? (und ich gehe zum Jagt also.) *wink*

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I’ve noticed a huge amount of German tourists this year! Last week, in my local – where there are never any foreigners except me – there were 10 Germans! It was great though as the football was on so I watched it with them! By the end, they were asking me to move to their home town and open an Irish pub there 🙂

  12. freebutfun says:

    …black sex.. lol! You’ll gave a blast in G, and hopefully all the Germans will too 🙂

  13. I have to find a way to add tasterly into my vocab.

  14. At least you’re in good company. JFK told the world that he was a sweet roll.

  15. Black sex?

    Du hast Schwein gehabt. 😉

  16. Emmi says:

    Ah du Scheisse! Verdammt! Das ist aber doof….

  17. Paul says:

    Cute EE. Mixed up words can be quite amusing. I used to work with quite a few immigrants and there was the odd time i had to ask that they reword their statement in order to make sense Truly though, speaking a language is the only way to learn it – mistakes and all. Even dialects can produce some confusion. I had a french teacher at work (the company believed in education and some of our franchisees were french) and she spoke 6 languages and had a masters in linguistics. She was hilarious , the best teacher I’ve ever had. Her husband spoke pidgin Canadian french and she and he went on a trip to France on business. She recounted stopping to get gas at a small store outside Paris that had an antique store attached. She wanted to see the antiques and her husband insisted he”d get the car filled with gas (which in Canada is called Gaz). She came out about 10 minutes later and found the station attendant lying under the car while her husband watched quizzically. She asked what had happened and her husband said he had told the attendant “Remplissez du gaz.” In Paris some stations carry natural gas – called gaz and gasoline called petrol. So, the station attendant upon being asked to fill up the car with natural gas and not seeing any fill valve, slide under the car to see where the tank was located so he could fill it. She tapped the attendant, apologized and asked “Remplissez du petrol.” Ha!

    You’ll have fun in Germany EE, lots of great blog fodder that we will greatly enjoy at your expense – Good Luck!

  18. Well, who knew that that was the best selling record of all time in Germany! I even managed to sing along for quite a lot of it!
    I think I would struggle to be a solo learner too – too many distractions!

  19. NancyTex says:

    Did you tastering? <–just made my life.

  20. CrazyCatLady says:

    The best & easiest way to learn will be when you’re there. Theory / reading / CD’s, etc., just aren’t the same. Bet you anything- your students learn better from you because you’re a native English speaker, so they are forced to learn more intently in order to understand you, and be understood. Once you’re in Germany, you will be fluent in no time!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, here’s hoping! The CD thing is definitely not for me – I need to be looking at a person or my mind starts wandering. Stupid mind 🙂 I’ve found some good tutorials on Youtube though – must persevere!

  21. rigaenglish says:

    With 15 million copies sold, more than any record by Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Led Zep etc, the best selling German single of all time is….

    You sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?

  22. June says:

    I can imagine that as an English teacher you’re confronted with a few humdingers, made even more hilarious when your mind is just a teensy bit twisted! I think the black sex is my favourite.

  23. Just tell dear Wolfie “Ich steh total auf Dich”. Standing on someone in German is to be into them. Go figure 😉

    Ta for the plug!

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