Fighting with German

Photo by Oleg Magni on

Am I being dramatic?


Okay, yes. I am.

But, spring is here…and so are the possibilities, in spite of the truth of the matter.

Let me explain…

I’ll start with the positive, because that’s what I always request of my son when he wants to tell me about his day.

What is going well?

I passed my A2 exam.

It wasn’t necessarily official, as it was through the Deutsche Welle Learn German app. Yet, I’ll take that victory. It is rather sad that even after all this time, I still haven’t officially passed this level of German language comprehension. However, that is the point of this year of work.

I know there are solid aspects of my life that could, and probably should improve. My ability to use German is surely one of them.

Generally speaking, my listening comprehension and reading at this level is on point.

At any rate, I love the Deutsche Welle app with it’s partner desktop site.

DW’s Learn German app, in my opinion, does a really nice job of catering to just about everyone with regard to the content and subject matter, and it is all free.

In the beginning of my German language journey, I used Duolingo to supplement my learning. However, one area where I felt this app fell short was explaining the grammar points. I actually haven’t used Duolingo for about three years, so maybe it has dealt with this shortfall in an update since. It is really difficult for me to simply memorize information, especially if the reason why isn’t compelling and applicable to my everyday life.

Yes, the idea of something I am learning needing to be compelling and applicable to my everyday life is tricky because since I live in Germany, the language is absolutely applicable and important to my every day life, but the reality of this situation is that I still use English more often than I use German in my life here.

The great thing about Duolingo is that it does turn practicing and learning the language into a game. The DW Learn German program does not do that. DW is based on videos, so for me it feels like I am watching TV and then answering questions about the TV program. I grew up watching tv and films, so this feels easy for me. I didn’t necessarily grow up playing video games, which is also perhaps why I don’t prefer Duolingo.

Duolingo has ‘stories’ now, which help advance reading comprehension.

The other nice thing about both of these apps is that I can use either of them when I happen to wake up in the middle of the night and ‘need’ to grab my phone when I realize I cannot go directly back to sleep. Either way I can complete a few lessons and inevitably fall back asleep.

Maybe this last week of March, I will practice again on Duolingo. That way I can also report back on the usefulness of Duolingo’s ‘stories’ feature.

I know. It is both crazy and disappointing. I am really trying to stick to the two-minute rule, and it does work when I maintain my focus (ie, not let myself become distracted by the other apps on my phone).

Since passing this exam, I can clearly identify areas at that level that I need to focus on moving forward.

What could be better?

My grammar stinks.

This is where I really need to focus my attention, and I mean with all of it.

As soon as I am asked to use articles and any Declination beyond Nominative, I begin to be confused. With practice, I can identify other forms (Accusative, Dative, and Genative) when they are printed, but cannot necessarily reproduce them independently. This causes continued issues with other aspects of grammar, but I am working on it.

Additionally, I really need to find a conversation partner. My spoken German beyond the basics is simply gobbledegook.

Finding a speaking partner or teacher willing to work with me at the present has been trickier than normal thanks to the pandemic. But perhaps this will change as we come into spring.

Photo by Helena Lopes on

What else is working?

In other news, I am still not drinking alcohol. However, I have been having small sweets more frequently. I kinda like not drinking though.

Since Germany is in an odd place, attempting to open up after an extended lockdown, but still struggling with it’s case numbers. I have decided I won’t have a drink until I can connect with my friends indoors or out. None of us feel comfortable doing that yet, even if the government does allow for outdoor dining soon. It is more likely we will meet once Covid-19 vaccinations increase across Europe, until then, I have ‘business’ and ‘mental health’ meetings in person with one friend – one.

I have also continued to practice yoga, almost daily. I feel like that is a win.

It is becoming ever more challenging to practice, as my to do list is becoming longer and a variety of people need more from me every day. I began taking two training courses at the end of February, which meet at night online. Furthermore, my university courses will begin again after Easter, so I have to modify and upload my coursework as soon as I can. Between the new training courses and the courses I am leading, my hands and head are full. In other words, I need yoga now more than ever.

However, since I have been in training meetings until 9pm two nights a week, and have other meetings one to two nights a week on top of that, my beautifully peaceful early morning sessions are few and far between. Instead I have been attempting to complete a few cycles of Sun Salutations before getting on with the rest of my day.

Surya Namaskar Step by Step| Sun Salutation | Breathing | Posture –
Aditya The World Of Fitness

In addition to the morning Sun Salutation, I try to stretch often through out the day, taking five to ten minutes here and there to refocus my body and attention. Then, in the evening I will either do a ten minute ‘bedtime sequence’ like one of these two from my favorite YouTube Yogi, Yoga with Adriene:

Yoga For Bedtime – 20 Minute Practice

Or this one…

Wind Down Yoga – 12 Minute Bedtime Yoga – Yoga With Adriene

It really depends on what I have time for, but I know the longer I can spend on the mat the better I will feel overall. Sometimes I just don’t get to the mat until really late. I would prefer to have my early morning sessions back, but I cannot do both – have my evening trainings and my early morning sessions.

I have to be patient and know that what I am learning now is important and will effect a great deal of my work moving forward, so it is important. Yet, it won’t go on forever.

In summary

Again, I am not where I ideally thought I would be at this point in my German language practice challenge, but I also didn’t imagine I would have this much going on at this time either.

The point was not necessarily to win every month, that would be crazily unrealistic.

The original goal was always to attempt to be better, focusing on something new every twenty-eight (thirty sounds better though) days and see what sticks.

It’s not like I am planning on going anywhere any time soon. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and I am raising a child here. I have time to continue to learn. Even more importantly, the month isn’t over yet!

What is working for you right now? How are you combatting your demons, attempting to win over your habits, and create new or improved skills?

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