August 20, 2018
Today marks the beginning of our third week at Language Camp in Bad Laasphe. We’ve had German classes, group discussions on the cultural differences between the USA and Germany, gone swimming at the local pool, bought fruits and vegetables and flowers at the market speaking (mostly) only German, and, this evening, some of us went to see a movie at the local theater.
We had two choices: Mamma Mia 2, or some movie about a shark called Der Meg. I hadn’t seen the first one, but I went to see Mamma Mia 2 anyway. (Being a Floridian who loves to swim at the beach, I try not to watch too many movies about sharks.)
You may recall that I don’t speak very much German yet. Before going on program, I’d only used Duolingo and Memrise on and off for several months, and, unsurprisingly, the movie was dubbed in German. The only part of the movie that was in English was the songs. Everything else was 100% unadulterated Deutsch.
When the movie started, I was pretty positive I wouldn’t be able to understand the plot, and so I decided I’d just enjoy all the visuals and try to get an ear for German pronunciation. But that wasn’t the case. At some point during the movie, I realized I was laughing along with the jokes and rooting for the characters, all while recognizing very few of the actual words that they were saying. The little bit of vocabulary that I already knew helped, but the things that I was understanding were the body language, the facial expressions, and the tones of voice. I also picked up some new vocabulary just by paying attention to how the words the characters were saying related to their actions and listening for repetitions of those words.
As the day that I leave the American bubble that is Language Camp has drawn nearer, I’ve grown more anxious about how I’m going to navigate my host community without the benefit of everything being in English. Something as silly as watching Mamma Mia 2 in German helped me to remember that while it’s definitely going to be hard, it won’t be impossible. I can already see a difference between the beginning of Language Camp three weeks ago and now. And, when you’re immersed, progress happens even faster. I’m looking forward to seeing how my German will improve this year.
Bis zum nächsten Mal,