Learning German: A love-hate relationship.

You’re already almost a year in Germany and all you can say is “Ach so??”

Thank you soooo much! Please rub it in! 

Dear Diary,

I am going crazy. The first two weeks of learning this language is the most horrible phase of my life. My headache never stops. I feel hungry all the time. At the end of the day I want to eat something really crunchy and/or punch someone in the throat. I’m going ballistic.

I joined the classes when some of them are in the middle of the book already and I can’t be proud that all I know was just “good morning, thank you and bye” at all! I needed to do a lot of catching up.

Diary, I don’t really see why I need to learn the language to begin with. I am an aspiring English teacher and where will I use German after here? I don’t plan to stay for long anyway. I just need to learn Teaching and that’s it. I will be gone. Okay? Thanks! Bye! And that is very very soon!

Dear Diary,

I don’t know where the f*ck these Germans got their words from! And I don’t know why they have different Articles for “The” and genders! They don’t effin make sense AT ALL! “der, die and das??” Seriously? Who has the time? Life is too short to focus on learning German. Besides, how can they expect me to pronounce f*cking things right when Tagalog alphabet only has 20 letters? (Wikipedia says Modern Tagalog Alphabet has now 28 letters)

We don’t have C, F, Z, Q, V and X. English is already challenging at 26 letters. F, V and Z already gave my tongue a good workout then German Language has umlaute??* How am I supposed to pronounce “schwarz” and how will I remember “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” ?? (law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling)

That is not even the longest German word. I am losing it, Diary. I’m losing it!

Related Article:

10 German Travel Words That I Wish We Have in English.

*umlaute* source wikipedia
Ä (ä) // Long ä pronounced similar to ‘ae’ in ‘aero’
Ö (ö) // No English equivalent sound. somewhat similar to vowel in ‘jerk’, ‘turn’, or ‘third’, but it is critical to note that there is no “r” sound that is pronounced in conjunction with the ö.
Ü (ü) // No English equivalent sound

The ss-Ligature, ß
ß (es-zet or scharfes es) // Pronounced like ‘s’ in ‘set’ or ‘c’ in ‘nice’

*Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft. Currently this is the longest German word meaning “Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.”

Dear Diary,

Today, I almost fought with my classmates who will be my future students. They are bullying me for not trying (to learn at least). Duh?! I’m just an Intern. I am not here to learn the language. I am here to learn teaching and please! I’ve gone so far with my English. It’s enough! If there should be learning German, should be them not me. Besides, almost every German speaks English and they always say they love practicing it so please, LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

4-5 months later…

Excuse me. Why is the shop closed?” An old lady asked me in German.

“Because of the flood.” Unglaublich! (Unbelieveable!) I replied in German and I needed to stop a bit though the lady has walked away. I had a small talk in this language I started having a love-hate relationship. I mean, my German can’t still save my life and once Germans felt that I am abusing their language, they immediately switch back to English. No one should put the language into shame. Nationalism. They teach that in school too. They didn’t realize that doing this makes me so happy more than Bratwurst.

Dear Diary,

I can’t believe I will at least be able to somehow pick up the language I was so skeptical about learning. I might not need it professional wise but to be able to make a small talk with the locals and especially to be able to buy something using their language feels so good. I suck at languages and I am well aware of that already.

Related Article:

10 Things I Love about Germany

I stayed in Malaysia for nearly two years and I can’t even say a complete sentence in Malay, Tamil or Mandarin. I have convinced myself that I don’t need anything aside from English. How full of myself have I become? Looking back Diary it was just an excuse I kept on saying and telling myself because I was too lazy and too close-minded for learning.

No matter how much I deny it, I was just in Malaysia to earn a living and not what I was claiming that I was there for culture when I didn’t even made an effort to integrate. Though I fell in love with it, Bahasa was like a flaw I didn’t fully embrace. I want to regret it and if I will live there again, I will surely try to learn it. Languages have this beauty that I was only able to see at 30.

Currently “Mein Deutsch ist noch peinlich.” (my German is still embarrassing) as how I would normally start a conversation with Germans to warn them I am about to murder their beloved language but they reply with their eyes almost popping out of their sockets and the more that they will encourage you to speak.

“At least you’re trying and that will get better in time” is how they console me. Germans aren’t so German after all and I can’t believe I will admit to watching German TV and movies now and read local papers, books and magazines. The headache started to subside. Even my host family stopped using English with me and I know in few more months, everything will be better like the weather.

After two years, my German is still not as good as I want to be but I can now have simple conversations. (Click here for the list of my favorite German travel words)  I wasn’t able to use what I have learned in the German course like all the things I did in school. Real life is just the best teacher. Learning a new language at 30 might not be easy but I would never have it the other way. Otherwise, I will never be able to appreciate its beauty like how I do now in my adult years.

It would have been easier if Filipinos aren’t so harsh about laughing at mistakes as if we are so prone from it and I wish we don’t make fun of everything. My self-esteem has been so affected and I have zero confidence.

A German friend said that I shouldn’t be worried because Germans, knowing how difficult their language is, will not laugh at me trying to speak and learn their language and that whatever fear I have for speaking it is also the fear they have for speaking a second language. The perfectionist in me may never be able to master it but at least, I still learned. I still won. 

Related Article:

Expat Diaries: In Malaysia, It’s Never Too Late to Dream a New Dream.

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Learning German: Love Hate Relationship

4 thoughts on “Learning German: A love-hate relationship.

  1. Interesting post. I went to Switzerland last year and I realised the Swiss German has an interesting accent compare to the German from Germany. Not that I speak any German! 🙂

  2. New languages are a struggle. Currently learning French since I can get along in Spanish. May try German next. I’m watching the German “Dark” on Netflix with subtitles.

  3. I love this, really. I can laugh, because I may be living in Germany, but I am from Luxembourg (a small country right beside Germany), so I don’t feel addressed, and I understand what you are saying even though my German is so good that nobody notices I’m from Luxembourg. (Luxembourgish is really close to it, so that’s not really difficult).

    It is great to hear that you were able to open up to the language more! Maybe we could chat a little, maybe even meet? 😉


    1. Hi Claudia,

      First of all, LOL! haha.

      Germans are something. haha. However, this is really nice and lovely of you. I wish I can also speak German like you one day. =)

      And a meet up sounds a nice idea. =)

      Looking forward to it.


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