Get past your embarrassment and speak, speak, speak!

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Kari Martindaleİngilizce
2 Mart 2017
856
3 dakika
The early stages of speaking a foreign language can be a roller coaster of emotions, especially when using the language in person. It is scary, frustrating, exhilarating, humiliating, and exhausting--sometimes all at once! During my first year as an expat in Germany, I wrote about one single day in which I felt each of those emotions, and more. It's a great example of the highs and lows of language learning, as well as just getting out there and speaking, no matter how embarrassing it may seem:

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0830 I communicated the following story successfully to my German class and teacher as soon as I arrived to class, albeit in the simple language and grammar indicated (while elaborately pantomiming). I was operating on my “You’ll never believe this” setting, so I wasn’t as inhibited as I usually am:

“I’m here but I must go home and then come. My books are on my steps and my door is not locked. This morning, we are going, and I ask my daughter: Where are your shoes? No shoes. We’re looking for her shoes. We can’t find. We’re searching in the house and can’t find the shoes. I look outside and here are her shoes. They are wet. Here, I mispronounce “wet” a few times, and am adding the German for “from water”, until someone understands and pronounces it for me. I repeat it. Wet. Her shoes are wet. VERY wet. Why are her shoes very wet? I don’t know. She was playing yesterday in the garden with me and with my husband. My husband put the shoes outside and now my daughter forgets. How do you forget your shoes are wet? I don’t know. She puts her shoes. I have my bookbag and put it on the steps. I open the gate for my car. We go. I’m driving here, I looked and saw no book bag. My bag is on my steps! I have forgotten! And I did not lock my door! I must go home and lock my door, and take my bag and come.”

Do you know how exciting it is to be able to relate this story? Awesome. As for the morning itself, let’s gloss over that.

1230 My daughter and I stopped at Burger King. I was ordering a Happy Meal and the girl asked if I wanted catsup or mayo for my fries. You get this simple question all the time, and yet I did not understand the woman. She switched into English.

Do you know what a moron you feel like when you don’t understand a common question?

1600 I had to call UPS to arrange for a pickup. German UPS. Given the difficulty of phone calls, I started out by telling her that I only speak a little bit of German, and I asked her to speak slowly.

Now, if there’s one thing I can say, it’s that I speak only a little bit of German, please speak slowly. But apparently she interprets ‘slowly’ as “as if I just snorted cocaine.” Somehow I made it through the phonecall (at least, we’ll know so if a UPS guy shows up at 3:00 on Monday). I even made a joke and she laughed.
Awesome.

1830 I needed to pick up a few things at the local home and garden store. I wanted to know where the birdseed was, so I found a young clerk. I asked:

(German) Where is the
(English) birdseed?

He didn’t understand me. I pointed to the grass seed and the insect seed, then flapped my arms and said, “Tweet, Tweet!”
And he said, “Ah, bird food?” “Yes.”

And that’s how I ended a day of speaking German: Flapping my arms and tweeting.

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So what do I recommend? Just get out there and practice. Get a tutor, listen to podcasts in the car, read, and interact in person--as often as possible--in the language you are learning. If you only know present tense, just use present tense. Don't hesitate to speak just because your grammar isn't perfect.

And don't worry about being embarrassed. If you're not standing in front of a man tweeting and flapping your arms, you're already ahead of the game.


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Amerika Birleşik Devletleri
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My role as a teacher is to provide an enthusiastic, interactive learning experience that adapts to the needs of the student, welcoming mistakes as learning tools and fostering lifelong language development. • Academic background in languages and linguistics, including a graduate degree in Linguistics from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, with coursework in TESOL. • Experience in teaching and mentoring adults and children, tutoring language learners, conducting oral proficiency interviews, organizing grammar clinics, delivering talks to high school and college students, teaching swimming to elementary school children, directing a children's church choir summer program, and training adults. Currently teaching beginner adults at the International Language Institute in Maryland. • Fluency in and familiarity with Germanic-based, Latin-based, and Semitic-based languages, giving insight into why a speaker is making specific syntactical and phonetic errors. • Travel to over 35 countries, resulting in immersive multi-cultural exposure. Current and Recent Affiliations: Member, TESOL International Association, since 2016 Member, Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, since 2016 Member, Foreign Language Advocacy for Grade Schools, since 2010 Member, MENSA (Metropolitan Washington Mensa), since 2009 Member, American Association of Teachers of Arabic, 2003-2012 Member, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 2006-2012 Member, American Dialect Society, 2010-2012 Student Member, Linguistic Society of America, 2009-2012 Member, Middle East Studies Association, 2004-2009 Member, National Council on Less Commonly Taught Languages, 2006-2012 Student Member, National Museum for Language, 2010-2012 Corporate Member, Association of Language Companies, 2006-2007 Associate Member, American Translators Association, 2006-2009 Corporate Member, Northern California Translators Association, 2006-2007
$30.00
USD/h
Flag İngilizce
Amerika Birleşik Devletleri
30
İspanyolca
,
Arapça
,
Almanca
My role as a teacher is to provide an enthusiastic, interactive learning experience that adapts to the needs of the student, welcoming mistakes as learning tools and fostering lifelong language development. • Academic background in languages and linguistics, including a graduate degree in Linguistics from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, with coursework in TESOL. • Experience in teaching and mentoring adults and children, tutoring language learners, conducting oral proficiency interviews, organizing grammar clinics, delivering talks to high school and college students, teaching swimming to elementary school children, directing a children's church choir summer program, and training adults. Currently teaching beginner adults at the International Language Institute in Maryland. • Fluency in and familiarity with Germanic-based, Latin-based, and Semitic-based languages, giving insight into why a speaker is making specific syntactical and phonetic errors. • Travel to over 35 countries, resulting in immersive multi-cultural exposure. Current and Recent Affiliations: Member, TESOL International Association, since 2016 Member, Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, since 2016 Member, Foreign Language Advocacy for Grade Schools, since 2010 Member, MENSA (Metropolitan Washington Mensa), since 2009 Member, American Association of Teachers of Arabic, 2003-2012 Member, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 2006-2012 Member, American Dialect Society, 2010-2012 Student Member, Linguistic Society of America, 2009-2012 Member, Middle East Studies Association, 2004-2009 Member, National Council on Less Commonly Taught Languages, 2006-2012 Student Member, National Museum for Language, 2010-2012 Corporate Member, Association of Language Companies, 2006-2007 Associate Member, American Translators Association, 2006-2009 Corporate Member, Northern California Translators Association, 2006-2007

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