Tuesday, 10 August 2010

When will I be fluent in German?

I have had the two opportunities to change to language context that my brain is living in. The first time was when my parents shifted the family from Singapore to Australia. From a language perspective, I went from a multi language location to a singular language location, a place where the primary language is Mandarin to a place where the primary language is English.

In recent time, I relocated with my wife and our two kids from Australia to Germany. Both locations are dominated by a single language, however as you can appreciate, the language are quite different. I guess that I am little bit lucky as the German and English have the same heritage.

Both experiences are quite similar, except I was only about 10 years old when I shifted to Australia. Now that I have just pass 40, I am find that the relocation to Germany to be a bit more difficult. As a child, I was able to absorb the new language a lot faster and be able to use the new found langauge faster. I also believe that as a child, I did not have the pressure to acquire the new language and to use it. The pressures of getting it right is significant greater now that I am an adult.

I tried to listen to news on German Radio and found that I am constantly translating the small snippets of words that I recognised into England so that I can get a gist of what the news story was about. This is increasing frustrating and I was never fast enough. Only when I can listen and not understand it without initially performing a translation will I be truly fluent.

I would love to hear your stories or experiences on living in a new country where the primary language is not native to you.


Clare B said...

I am totally frustrated by my german-learning capacity. I learnt to speak French fluently while living in a small rural town when I was 16. Now 15 years later I'm struggling with getting a grasp on German. Of course the situation is different - I live with an english-speaking partner and work predominantly in english. German is still my minority language, but I would love, love, love to be fluent. AHHH!

tehnyit said...

Clare, I totally share your frustration!! I was wondering if total immersion is the answer?
Only if I could find a time machine and go back a few years....