Foreign Language Learning

August 18, 2009

Being on the Camino again gave me a good chance to practice my German, and also make some observations about how language comprehension is going at this point. As Tom once said, it’s hard to get to the point where you are like “Yes, I’ve finally finished learning this language! Huzzah!” For me, there hasn’t been a point where it all just “clicks” and I can understand and speak fluently. Rather, when someone is talking to me, it goes more like this:

Comprehension of the last spoken sentence, by frequency

10% – I have absolutely no idea what this person just said. Smile and nod.

50% – I picked up some key words and filled in enough blanks to understand what was just said to my satisfaction.

20% – I understand every word and the meaning of the sentence.

10% – I understand all but one key word, which prevents my comprehending the sentence.

10% – I believe that I have understood every individual word just spoken, but nevertheless cannot grasp the meaning of the sentence

But in better news, I have found a purpose to all my German learnings. Clearly, talking to German people cannot be the purpose, because all German people speak English. However, there exists a German television program called Mitten im Leben which is so good that it makes all the struggle worthwhile.

So, Huzzah for that.


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