The next two blog posts are guest posts, written by Gareth Evans, the Marketing guy over at FlashSticks; the fast and effective way to improve your foreign language vocabulary, instantly. And if you want to find out more about FlashSticks, they’re always up for a natter on Twitter too.
Over to you, Gareth:
My language learning journey and why German will always be special to me
I’m going to start with just a smattering of self deprecation and tell you a little bit about how I’m not a natural when it comes to languages. My mind isn’t wired to pick up languages easily and I’ve always really struggled to get past the beginner level.
At least that’s the way I’d start this post if I wasn’t self aware and didn’t understand that the real reason that I’ve struggled with language learning is twofold: not finding a method of learning that suits me and not really engaging with the process.
And, to be honest, much of that comes from my own negative outlook on language learning, which is derived from my somewhat traumatic experiences of learning languages as a kid.
A promising start
Like most people, it was compulsory at school to learn another language. In fact, at my school, it was compulsory to learn two other languages. For me that meant learning French and German. And given that Angelika has been so kind as to let me write on her blog, I’ll focus on the latter.
In my third year at secondary school (when I was about 14 I think?), we were given the chance to try three languages out, for a few months each. German, Greek and Spanish were the ones on offer.
Greek was just not me. It made absolutely no sense to me, right from the get go. Spanish was a little better, but German really piqued my interest. It was what feels like a lifetime ago, so it’s hard to recall how exactly I made my decision to opt for German, but it largely came down to how the teacher made me feel about learning the language.
I remember my first German teacher with extreme fondness. From lesson one, everything she did with us was in German. Sure, she spoke English when she had to, but pretty much everything was in German and if we wanted to leave the room to go to the toilet, forgot our pens, needed a new notebook, or whatever it was, we HAD to find a way to ask in German.
What was amazing about the teaching environment she created, compared to my French, Spanish and Greek teachers, was that there was no fear. Nobody in the class feared getting things wrong; we were always encouraged to try and if one of us really couldn’t do something, she would ask someone else in the class if they could help.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was this lack of fear that is imperative when it comes to learning languages. The ability to laugh at yourself when you get things wrong, shrug it off and try again really is the only way to learn.
I loved German and I absolutely loved German classes. So, when it came to the end of that year, and we had to select one of the three additional languages on offer to study at GCSE level, there was no hesitation. It was German all the way.
But will it stay that way? You’ll have to wait until Monday to read how Gareth’s language learning continues 🙂