Sprechen Sie Deutsches?

The question I have been waiting for came today. As I have been working through my first attempt to find a project or a transfer to Germany, I knew it was sitting out there, and it wouldn't be long. I could hide behind my work experience for only so long. It was an obvious question really.

Do you speak German?

I answered truthfully. What choice did I really have? I had taken a class at the Goethe Institute in Washington DC this spring. I intend to continue to learn this language as intensively as possible. But right now I could barely communicate with a 2 year old. And there is no telling how long it will be before I can hold a basic or intermediate conversation, let alone function in the workplace in German.

Now this got me a little bit down I have to admit. I have heard how notoriously difficult German is. I have gone back and forth with M. on the pronunciation of one word or another, never really getting it right no matter how much I thought I was saying the same thing as him. I have already gotten a taste of the complicated grammar. It will take quite a bit of time to learn this language.

M. was very supportive on this issue. He said he would practice with me and help me along. He also thinks that I will start to pick it up a lot faster when I am surrounded by it. As far as work goes, we know of so many examples of people in German offices in our company who speak little or no German that we should be able to work around it for some time.

I am feeling better about it this evening but one thing is clear. Learning German is going to have to be a priority for me. I need it for my independence, for work, for getting around in town and I want to be able to speak to M. in his native tongue sometimes.

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