deird1: Rapunzel, hanging just above the ground, afraid to touch down (Rapunzel nearly to the ground)
[personal profile] deird1
There are a few differences between being a non-(good)-English speaker in an English-speaking country, and a non-(good)-German speaker in a German-speaking country.


The Good

Germans correct you.

If you're talking in halting English, an English speaker will listen intently, pick up on approximately what you're trying to say, and nod understandingly. Polite, but not terribly conducive to improving your language skills.

In Germany, on the other hand, if you make an error, the person you're talking to will correct you the moment you make it. Very helpful.

(It also means that, if I want to, I can abruptly inform the Germans that their English is crap and I'm going to edit their writing so it makes sense - and no-one will find this rude.)


The Bad

Many native English speakers don't really speak anything else. Because of this, if they're talking to someone who's not good at the language, they'll dumb it down to kid-level.

German, though, isn't as flexible a language as English; it's harder to dumb down. And most Germans speak very good English. So, if you're having trouble keeping it... they'll switch to English. Nice, considerate, and makes it almost impossible to practise your German.


The Ugly Actually Rather Helpful

German is way easier to spell.

This means that it's ridiculously easy for me to look up unknown words in the dictionary and find out what they mean. Honestly, in English, I don't know how people cope.

Date: 2014-03-31 04:05 pm (UTC)
velvetwhip: (Die!)
From: [personal profile] velvetwhip
Seems the good outweighs the bad.

Also, I'm ashamed to say that Americans are generally just horrible to people who don't speak English. It makes me cringe.


Gabrielle

Date: 2014-03-31 10:39 pm (UTC)
beer_good_foamy: (Default)
From: [personal profile] beer_good_foamy
Germans correct you.

This is what I love about being in Germany; even when your German is rusty from disuse, most people are happy that you speak German at all and perfectly willing to just let you talk and correct you when you get it too wrong. The first few times, I took forever piecing grammatically correct sentences together and remembering which prepositions control which cases. When I just jumped in and started blathering, everything worked itself out somehow. Sooner or later, it'll click and the whole language just starts to make sense.

(Also, IME, a lot of Germans are really puzzled to find out just how many rules their language has and have no idea what an auf hinter in neben über unter vor zwischen have in common.)
Edited Date: 2014-03-31 10:39 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-04-01 07:34 am (UTC)
rogin: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rogin
I'm glad Germany is working out so well for you.

I also find it often difficult to practice languages other than English, because people at the university in France or in Czech republic, where I sometimes work usually instantly switch to English to make the communication easier.

Only in southern Italy there was no way around learning Italian.

Date: 2014-04-03 01:46 pm (UTC)
lirazel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lirazel
Yeah, Western Europe is interesting in that in most cases you can find someone who speaks enough English to communicate with you. Which is great in a lot of ways, but like you say, not exactly the most helpful in practicing your skills. I hadn't thought about German being harder to dumb down, but now that you mention it, I see it. English is a really flexible language in lots of ways, for all it's impossibly nonsensical at times.

Good luck to you with working on it! I can't remember--did you speak any before you knew you were moving there or is it entirely new to you?

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