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My German Resources

My German Resources

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German can be a difficult language – or at least that’s what Germans reassure me when I’m struggling along. I always feel like a complete dummy jabbering on with my terrible German, and most people switch to serviceable English if they notice me struggling too much. I’ve been able to get to the point where I can run errands, make appointments, and make some caveman-like small talk, but I don’t do that without help. I’d be completely lost without some of my technological helpers.

Google Translate

Google Translate has a reputation for being terrible, which it can be, but if you have some basic knowledge of the languages you’re translating, it can help you fill the gaps. If I’m having trouble understanding the gist of something, popping it in to Google Translate can help me figure out what I’m missing. I would not suggest using it to do translations for you unless you are able to fiddle around with it and make revisions – at least for anything serious. It can lead to some amusing small-talk, however. And the Live Translate feature on the mobile app is entertaining to say the least.

Google Translate Live
Some Live Translate highlights.

Dict.cc

Dict.cc is the basic dictionary app I use on my phone. You can download language packs to access offline, which makes it very useful. It will only help you with single words and common short phrases, but it’s proven to be fairly accurate when I’m looking for new words. It also shows the gender of the German nouns, which is magical. I’m constantly mixing up der/die/das/den/dem and so on. I’m told that I’ll eventually remember them all, but I doubt that.

Wanna talk about pineapples? Dict.cc has you covered. Also, pineapples are feminine, while pineapple corers and cultivation are masculine.
Wanna talk about pineapples? Dict.cc has you covered. Also, pineapples are feminine, while pineapple corers and cultivation are masculine.

Duden-online-Wörterbuch

I use the Duden website when I really want to impress somebody. Duden gives you so much information, that it can almost be overwhelming if you just need to translate something quickly, but if you want to make sure your verb conjugations are perfect, it is the place to go. I always have issues with second person plural, but it helps me out. It’s hard to make Google Translate understand which version of “you” that you want, but Duden gives all of your options for you. There is a German to English option when you look up entries, but they are as streamlined as Dict.cc, and if you want a quick translation, Dict.cc will get you there faster. However, the German entries are a goldmine, especially for those irregular verbs.

Look at all this grammar!
Look at all this grammar!

There are other resources available on the website, but I haven’t played around with them a bit. If anyone uses any of their other services, please let me know if it’s something I need to check out!

Image used in header by stokpic.

Patriotism and Expat vs. Immigrant

Patriotism and Expat vs. Immigrant

Several days ago, we received this flyer in our mailbox.

Calling German Patriots Flyer 1

Translation:

CALL FOR MASS DEMONSTRATION IN FRANKFURT ON MAIN

Citizens of this country: Unite!

to a mass demonstration against the Islamic and left-radical fascism in German. Our land needs once ALL patriots on the streets!

Resistance East/West, Frankfurt on Main    20th July ’15

DON’T SPLIT, UNITE!

At first I didn’t think much of it, but, noticing the words “islamischen” and “linksradikalen” connected to “Faschismus” – I figured this wasn’t really for us.

Calling German Patriots Flyer  2

Translation:

Friends, Patriots, awakened Citizens of Germany,

It has long been echoed by West and East: So many people on the streets, so many groups. It’s time to join the resistance, pull together the forces.

WE WANT TO DARE! WE WANT GERMAN PATRIOTS IN A DEMONSTRATION!

For the purposes of “Not left, not right – straight ahead” is EVERY AWAKENED CITIZEN of German invited to join the “Resistance East/West” demonstration.

We want to be no competition to other movements, unite only for this day together to bring Germany to tremble!

In the Roßmarkt in Frankfurt on 20th June ’15 from 13:00 – 17:30

And translating that into English makes it sound even more crazy pants! I wondered how it ended up in our mailbox. While the Verlobter has a typical German name, I do not. Many of our neighbors are Turkish, and I wondered if this may have ended up in their mailboxes as well. But my name is likely more English than anything, so would it have been viewed the same way as a Turkish name to the people who put these in mailboxes? And while I can look at these flyers with a bit of humor, how might it make my neighbors feel?

I may not have posted this had I not just read “Do You Call Yourself An Expat Or An Immigrant – And What Is Really The Difference Between The Two?” by Meg at Geek Mädel, but the combination of her post and this flyer highlighted how I am viewed differently than my neighbors.

I have used both “Immigrant” and “Expat” to refer to myself, because I have generally interpreted “Expat” to refer to moving as a personal “choice”. I realize that there is a certain privilege to that and that as an American, people make a lot of assumptions about me that generally put me in a more positive light than other immigrants. I’m not here for better financial opportunities or because where I lived was not safe for me, and somehow I think I get treated better for that, which is really strange. But it wouldn’t be much different in America. Had the Verlobter moved instead of me, he also would have been treated differently than immigrants from Eastern Europe or Central America. And, like me, he would get a ton of compliments for speaking the language of the country, though his English is a million times better than my German.

I don’t think I will entirely get rid of the Expat label – it gives me a way to find others in similar situations to me, who have made similar decisions and are facing similar struggles. But I am also an Immigrant, and I think it’s important to also find others who identify that way as well. I’m here to stay, which is a different experience than many expats have.

 

My Immigration Anniversary

My Immigration Anniversary

Today marks my one year anniversary of immigrating to Germany, though yesterday is technically the anniversary of me emigrating from the US because we flew overnight. Sometimes I forget exactly how much has changed for me in just one year, but then I start to list them out and realize what a crazy year it’s been.

Unlike Americans, my German relatives really enjoy picking up people from the airport.
Unlike Americans, my German relatives really enjoy picking up people from the airport.

When we first arrived, we were living at the Verlobter’s mother’s house. The Verlobter had found an apartment and finalized all the paperwork on it before I arrived, but the previous owners had given themselves until September to move – and they took all of it and tried to ask for more! Apparently the real estate agent was frustrated with them because they were being so picky about their new place. Thankfully the Verlobter’s mom and her husband were very accommodating, though I think their help of getting us moved in that September wasn’t completely altruistic.

No one enjoys painting.
No one enjoys painting.

While we were waiting on the apartment, we got my visa sorted out and I started applying for jobs. As I mentioned in my previous post about my current struggles, I was (and still am) only allowed to work as a freelance English teacher. So even though the Verlobter cheekily pointed out the “We’re Hiring!” signs at McDonald’s and a nearby pizza place, I couldn’t apply there. The pizza place actually recently added an addendum to their sign – “Valid Work Permit Required” – so I feel justified in my approval to not apply as a delivery driver. Along with my complete inability to drive a stick shift, even though I have a German driver’s licence (read here).

The job search didn’t go too well. I applied at a variety of schools and even had interviews with some, but no bites. Some places wanted my German to be better, other places didn’t mind, but I think that my lack of experience teaching English as a foreign language – even though I studied English education – was a bit of a set back. We decided to focus on working on German, because that I could fix. I couldn’t get experience teaching English to non-native speakers if no one would hire me!

The problem was that I wanted to get a job lined and then take German lesson, because lessons cost money. We called around to various offices to figure out if I qualified for any type of aid. During that search, we found out that if I applied for general social support, I could get deported, so that was fun! In the end, I qualified for a discount of about 50% and took a short German test to determine my placement. Luckily for me, this was one instance that my timing was great! I tested halfway into the integration course, which was going to hit that point in a few weeks. They happened to have a spot, and bam, I was in!

Definite Articles in German
These are all the different ways to say “the” in German. Doesn’t it look fun!

Unfortunately, around Christmas, the foreign office was sending us letters asking for proof of my employment. It turned out that the visa I was on didn’t just allow me to work, it required that I do. Thankfully the fact that I was enrolled in a German class gave me some leverage and the office was able to find a different visa that I qualified for, as long as the Verlobter officially sponsored me. So we got to go fill out more paperwork, and I got to pay for a second visa, but this one should be good until we’re married! Then we get to do everything all over again.

I still sporadically applied for jobs. I started mentioning that I was in an integration course and mentioning the end date as some sort of proof of my competence with German. I eventually landed something in the next city over from us! And then I got a call from another school that wanted met to take a class also in that city. Things have steadily increased from that point, which is fantastic.

I passed my integration course with flying colors  and just recently received my official certificate, which I will need when I eventually apply for residency. I also scored high enough to use that test to fulfill one of the citizenship requirements, so I wouldn’t have to take the “Living in Germany” test again.

Leben in Deutschland
Boss Mode!

I’m quite excited to have survived my first year here. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring, though I’m sure with the wedding it will also be a crazy one!

Seychelles Mama
My Expat Family. A linky for expat family/parent bloggers to share stories of family life as an expat.
May 19th – My Accomplishments

May 19th – My Accomplishments

Today’s prompt for Blog Everyday in May is to “List ten things you have accomplished in the past decade.”

Whoo then, alright. A decade ago, I was only 15, so I feel like I might have some trouble coming up with ten. Also, I always worry about sounding like I’m bragging, but I suppose that, since this is the prompt, it’s alright.

June 2008 – Graduated high school, #1 in my class

December 2011 – Graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in English

Yup, stole this picture from a previous post.
Yup, stole this picture from a previous post.

June 2012 – Approved by my university to do my internship with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) Program – this is what landed me in Germany the first time!

Passport Instagram
The artsy Instagram picture I took of my passport before I left for Germany.

May 2013 – Graduated with my Master of Arts in Education, Secondary English

Masters Screengrab
I didn’t actually attend my graduation, ceremony because I was still in Germany – so my graduation photos for this degree consist of a screengrab of my online transcript and an instagram of my diploma.

June 2013  – Got my first “big girl job” at a high school in the middle of nowhere!

Goats
I saw these goats while driving through town on more than one occasion.

May/June 2014 – Packed up my life and flew off to Germany (Left May 31st – landed June 1st!)

October 2014 – Passed the theory test (in English) for my German driver’s license – read about it here!

Drivers License
Stealing yet another picture from a previous post. Thats just how I roll.

February 2015 – Taught my first freelance English class

March 2015 – Took and passed my German B1 Test – certifying that I know very basic German

B1 all the way!

March 2015 – Started a blog that lasted more than two weeks

Majestic American Sloth
Look at that majestic creature

My life seems to consist pretty much entirely of school – either as a student or a teacher. What are some of your accomplishments that you are proud of?

May 17th – Holding Me Back

May 17th – Holding Me Back

Today’s prompt for Blog Everyday in May is, “What is holding you back?”

Language Insecurity

I suppose that, in a way, this goes hand in hand with yesterday’s post about what I am struggling with. I touched on it briefly in the post, but I think that the biggest thing holding me back professionally and personally right now is my own insecurity with the German language. Knowing German makes me much more marketable and allows me to expand my social circle, but now that I have left my integration class, it becomes quite easy to settle into the comfort of surrounding myself with English.

I actually studied German both in high school and in college. My high school German teacher was phenomenal, and I owe much of my foundation with the language to him. My college experience was much more hit or miss, and there is a fundamental difference between learning a language in school for a grade and learning a language for communication purposes. When learning German in school, there was definitely a big insecurity, especially when I reached college, about needing to have everything perfect when speaking – and subsequently not speaking when it wasn’t. In those classes, there always seemed to be a student or two happy to fill the silence and I could easily get away with not speaking most of the time.

My high school teacher (and later my integration course teacher) were not happy with the same people talking all the time. They both made concentrated efforts to make sure everyone spoke to a certain extent. With everyone speaking and everyone making mistakes, my insecurity lessened. Now, however, I have been thrown into a sea of native speakers, and I lock up again.

I am a bit better than how I was before taking my integration course – my knowledge has improved greatly from spending 20 hours a week for several months on learning, but the insecurity is creeping back in. I think I just need to take classes until I get to something approaching fluency, but that isn’t necessarily feasible right now. And I need to convince myself to forbid the Verlobter from speaking English to me on occasion.

Fellow language learners – any advice for getting over a fear of speaking in German?

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