Tag Archives: communication

Operation Full Immersion: Day 3

17 Jan

After I “de-registered” from the group lessons, I was free this morning until 12.30pm when my next private lesson would start. I could have stayed in bed for longer but I go up and decided to do some self-study. I went to find a library yesterday and I realised that they don’t open until 10am at the earliest. So I needed to find an alternative.

Going against every grain in my body, I went to a Starbucks. I thought that it would be hard to nurse a mint tea for 3 hours but it was surprisingly easy, even though by the end the tea was pretty disgusting. I would normally feel guilty about sitting there and using the Wi-Fi for free but I read an article recently that said that Starbucks don’t mind you doing that so I did this guilt-free. At almost 3 Euros for hot water and a tea bag it should be them who are feeling guilty.

I thought I would soon get bored but I was powering through grammar exercises and going over somethings which I have already learnt but needed to look over again. I feel like I achieve what I wanted to in the morning and it was a lot easier to do than it would be at home with distractions from TV and basically anything else that is actually in the flat.

I headed to the school for my lesson and we went over some topics which I was having problems within. I think people can explain things in different ways and having a different teacher made it simple to iron out some of the mistake and misunderstandings that I had. We also talked about an article that she had printed off about the EU-Parliament President. It was interesting that some of the verbs that were used in the article were normally used for professional sport so that the reader got the impression that there was a real fight happening and it was something spectacular to watch.

I was surprised that the article mentioned the three female candidates only in passing. There was no mention of names, places of origin as there were for the men. I find this a bit surprising in a country where the Chancellor is female and who, I would say, is one of the strongest leaders in the world irrespective of gender.

After the lesson, I was pretty tired and it was so cold outside that I had no desire to wander around, so I came back to where I was staying to work. I didn’t feel it was right to go back to Starbucks in case the staff recognised me.

I finished a German book I was reading. It was only 90 pages or so long Even though the cover has “Easy Reader” emblazoned on it, there were still quite a few words that I didn’t know so it was a good exercise to help me learn. The story is about a daughter whose mother is involved in a car crash. It doesn’t seem like a great story for a Tuesday afternoon but, nevertheless, it was entertaining and, like I say, I managed to learn something. Oh, and it turns out that the mother comes out of the coma and everything is ok.

In order to complete the Full Immersion, I went to a beer hall for something to eat in the evening. I know that the waiters were dying to talk to me in English but I wouldn’t let them. I got the menu in German, ordered in German, everything in German. Sometimes it pays to be stubborn.

I had heard that Munich was one of the most expensive cities in Germany but in comparison to Zurich it is still cheap. For one Mass of beer (one litre, or the equivalent of about 2 pints) it was 8 Euros 40. You pay about 9 SFr. (about 9 Euros) for less than a pint in Switzerland, so naturally I ordered a Mass with my meal. The waiter looked a littlimg_4455e bit surprised when I ordered it. He probably thought that I didn’t know what it was that I was ordering. But, oh, I definitely did. I noticed as I looked around that I was the only one in the whole place who had ordered a Mass. When in Rome…

I ordered roast pork which is a Bayern delicacy. It delicious and even thought it looks like it wasn’t a lot I did struggle to eat it all. I can’t help but thinking that the presentation reminded me a bit of a pair of tits. I am fairly sure that was unintentional. What do you think?

It has been a long day today and I feel like I have learnt a lot. Although I haven’t spoken as much German as I would have liked,  I think what I have spoken has been better. I’m ready for what tomorrow brings…

World’s worst communicators?

1 Nov

People often think that being a native English speaker in a world where English is the global language is a distinct advantage. However, an article that I read recently says this is not always the case. In fact, it argues that being a native speaker can be a disadvantage when working with non-native speakers because there are common miscommunications that lead to confusion.

I would say that there is some truth in this from my experience. One of my complaints about learning German is that native German speakers speak too fast and it takes my brain a little bit longer to process some of the words and translate them in English so I have always been conscious to speak slower and clearer to avoid misunderstandings.

Where the problem comes is in the use of colloquial words and frames of references which are non-existent in the other language. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that you don’t initially realise that these words are not known or taught to non-native speakers.

For example, I mentioned the other day that I missed “spuds”. I got a very strange look from the person that I was talking to as they had no idea if I was talking about food or if Spuds was the name of a family pet. Potatoes to someone learning English are always potatoes. It would need a very broad knowledge of British English to know that spud is the colloquial name for the humble potato.

What could be more global and international than Neighbours but when I was talking about 90s music with my work colleagues and I mentioned Jason Donovan, they asked who he was. How can you not know who Jason Donovan is? Neighbours is a show that British teenagers and pre-teens have grown up with. It was what we watched every day at 5pm after you came home from school. If you happened to be off school because of illness then you had the great advantage of being able to watch it at lunchtime and then in the evening again.

Of course, there are some frames of reference that transcend the language barrier. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows Monthy Python and, if I had a pound for every time someone told me how they learnt English from watching it/recited a sketch to me/asked me how many times I have seen Life of Brian, I would be a rich woman. Thinking about it, this also applies to Only Fools and Horses. And why wouldn’t it? We’re not all plonkers.

You can read the full article I read online here.