Learning a new language takes more practice than anything I think I’ve ever tried to do. After seven years of study and 2 months of immersion, I still feel like I could spend another 6 months here and not have it completely down; and yet, it’s hard to fathom how much improvement can be made in just that much time.
I’ve noticed in my own development of the German language that there are good days and there are bad days. Symptomatic of the bad days are stumbling over words, and even reluctance to speak in German. Thinking comes only in English and sentences are broken or unfinished. It’s frustrating to go through, but the next day is always better. Actually the bad days have been coming less and less in the last couple weeks.
The good days are defined as days that the words (in German) come to my mouth without much effort. There will always be grammatical errors within the first couple months, but sometimes the the words come smoothly enough that it doesn’t matter. In fact, on the best of the good days I am actually thinking in German with only a few vocabulary hang ups. My host mom was actually the one to point out the speed with which I was speaking one day, and asked if I was thinking in German. That’s when I realized the reason for the good days.
The speed with which my classmates and I have picked up the language is remarkable, but I know there is also a downside. When we return to America, it may be forgotten just as quickly as it was learned. That fact is quite disheartening, but I am really going to try to keep up my German a little while I’m in the States. Losing all this progress would be painful. We’ll see though. Maybe I’ll just stay here and avoid that possibility. Hehe. Tchuess!