Failure of the 3 Month Language Challenge. Time to start over.

My ambitious challenge to become conversational in German in just three months failed due to one reason alone : I did not make learning German a priority. Yes, I went to my twice weekly classes, did all my homework, spoke a bit of German here and there, but I made no real effort to learn and more importantly practice my German.  I’m not one of these lucky people who have a ear for language and can pick them up easily.  I seem to need to work twice as hard as everyone else to get to the same level. However, I know I have the ability to learn German, because I learnt to speak English, but I need to put some effort into it.  I simply did not do that.

This time, I’m not going to have any gimmicky challenge, I’m simply going to make learning German a priority. I need to get over the fear of making an fool of myself and just start speaking German, cause quite frankly, I’m more than capable of making an fool of myself speaking English, might as well accomplish that in German too. I also know that I’m not really going to make a life for myself here in Germany until I start speaking the language.

It’s time to stop making up excuses and just do it.

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A Very German New Year’s

This New Year’s, thanks to the hospitality of German friends both old and new, I was able to celebrate New Year’s Eve German style.  We ate an incredible amount of delicious food before the obligatory watching of Dinner for One.

Then we divined our future in the time honoured tradition of Bleigießen (lead pouring). Bleigießen involves melting lead (or these days tin) in an old spoon over a candle. Once melted it is then poured into a bowl of cold water and your future is foretold by the shape the lead sets in.  We weren’t quite as organised to remember to get some lead beforehand, so we used wax from small tealight candles. My weird wax formations resembled some of the rock formations at Monument Valley and the Starship Enterprise coming out of a nebula. I have no idea what this means for the year ahead.

At 11:45pm, we suddenly remembered it was New Year’s and ran down to the banks of the Alster to ring in the New Year and watch what the Germans do best on New Year’s, letting off fireworks.  I love the chaos that is New Year’s in Germany.  Everyone stands on the street letting off hundreds of fireworks until the air is so smoky you can barely see anything in front of you.  It is so chaotic and unorganised which makes a wonderful change for the normal Ordnung of German life.

At 3am, I made my way home and narrowly avoided injury when some stupid idiot decided to throw a lighted firecracker into our train carriage. Walking home I was pleased to note that some of my elderly neighbours were also coming home from their own New Year’s Eve parties.  When I’m in my mid-70s, I want to be as hardcore as them and still out partying at 3am.

It was such a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012.  I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me and how my weird wax formations made on New Year’s Eve will fit into it.  A trip to Utah for a Star Trek convention anyone?

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A New Year’s Wish

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Reading My First German Books

In an attempt to improve my German, I’m starting once more to make an effort to read German children’s books.  Last week, I read my first proper books in German.  Yes, they are still children’s books, but I’ve graduated from picture books to books with chapters!

Reading these books still require me to look up words on almost every page, but I figure this is as good a start as any to improving my German.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to read a book designed for a 6 year old without needing to look up any words. Until that day, it will take approximately 30 minutes to read a 40 page book that only has a few sentences per page.

I went to the library last weekend and got a massive stack of books for me to read over the Xmas/New Year holiday break.  Already, I’ve ‘burned’ through two of them.

I also got some audio books to help improve with my atrocious listening skills.

I’ve started a brand new page on my blog to record all the books I’ve read in German to either encourage or shame me into reading in German more regularly. If you are also at the same point at learning German that I’m at, it might also provide a good guide for suitable books to read.

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Happy Holidays!

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my fantastic readers.  Thank you so much for all your wonderful and insightful comments throughout the year.  I hope that this holiday season brings you much joy and if you are unable to spend it with family, I hope you can spend it with dear friends.

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Despite receiving two invitations from Jesus Friends to attend their Heiligabend Gottdienst (Christmas Eve Mass) which promises Pop, Gospel and classic music, at the church down the road, I’m going to keep my Heiligabend more secular.  I’ve already been to bakery for my bread and I’ve done a semi-clean of my apartment – the spiders in my apartment are productive little buggers. Now I plan to do a whole lot of nothing before opening presents after sunset and indulging in a home-cooked meal.

What are your plans for Heiligabend?

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Magic Woody Allen Zombie Jesus

Once again Tim Minchin is showing that he is the voice of reason during this ridiculously silly season.  Unfortunately, ITV executives thought that Christians with thin skin might get too offended at their son-god being the butt of a silly light hearted joke and cut this amusing song from the Jonathan Ross show.  This being the age of the Internet, even cut segments have their day in the sun and this song is now going viral reaching more people than the segment on the Jonathan Ross show ever would have. When are they ever going to learn?

Praise be to Magic, Woody Allen, Zombie, Superman, Komodo Dragon, Telepathic, Vampire, Quantum, Hovercraft Jesus!

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