Struggling with German? Here's some advice.

Struggle No Longer

Struggling with German? Here's some advice.
das Reh – the deer / Image via Pixabay

I quite often come across the following situation and would like to share with you how I approach this problem. May you benefit from it.
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On 07/23/14 4:37 AM, D. wrote:

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Dear Michael,

My name is D. We met at [that company] when I assisted to a couple of classes that you gave there. You probably not remember me, but I was the Spanish of the company and when i couldn’t pronounce, you told me it was about my face muscles. I deeply regret not have taken advantage from the chance gave me at the time to enjoy your classes at the place of work and for free. I get in touch with you because I need to speak german, and when I posted on facebook that I was looking for someone to teach me, 3 different people told me to get in touch with you.

Here is some background.  I lived in Berlin for 8 years. I work here as HR and I didn’t die so far… so I guess I can understand some german. But it’s a bit all over the place. I went to classes in several schools but they didn’t help me much. Also, I work all day, so I don’t have all the time but also, I don’t want to go to courses that seem to go on for ages to go from A1.1.1.1.1.1.2 to A1.1.1.1.1.1.1.3, I am a bit in the rush to get results in the short term.

I speak Spanish, and learned English, and some French and Italian by spending time with native speakers… with German it’s just impossible.  For all that, your course seems to be the perfect solution, but as I’m not total beginner… I don’t know if I apply. Also, to be honest… I don’t have that kind of money.

Could you maybe offer any alternative to the full course? If not, as an expert, could you give me some guidance on how to fix my issue that is becoming a big professional problem?

Thanks a lot!!!

D.

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On 07/23/14 6:39 AM, Michael Schmitz wrote:

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Dear D.,

I do remember you 😉 I never forget faces, just names. Your case is not that easy and I would love to talk to you in person these days about your possibilities. That hour will be for free. I do not want to sell my course to you as as you wrote you can not afford it and I do not offer any discount. But I can give you very good advice in your best interest. Call me if you are interested in such a conversation and we will arrange a time and place.

Just one thought beforehand: the fact that you are struggling with German despite your obviously good language learning skills hints at a psychological issue with your stay here in Germany. I might be wrong, yet I have seen quite a few such cases and there is not much a teacher can do unless you address this issue professionally. Any lesson you take would be a waste of time and money, no matter how cheap as your subconscious will always fight against you.

So what I would recommend you is to write a letter to a good friend in which you explain her/him why you want to learn German and what great things you can do with it. And why you love to be in Germany esp. in Berlin.

Write without censorship for at least 30 mins. Should the flow of thoughts stop, don’t get up, keep sitting in front of that paper until the next wave of words comes. You can of course write longer. After that first draft, take a break. In the evening or morning read it again and reduce the letter by 50% and see what is left. If you like you can send that letter later to me. There’s no need to send it to a friend but also no problem in doing so.

You see I have a slightly different approach. In any case I wish you success and hope to hear from you.

Herzlichst
Michael

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On July 31, 2014 10:19 AM, D. wrote:

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Dear Michael…

Sorry it took me so long to answer you. I’m super grateful that you took the time to answer me in such detailed way and giving me your full attention and contact details.

My first reaction to your email was pure shock, to be honest. Even if, (or maybe exactly because os that) I studied Psychology, I never give myself the benefit of the doubt and I just decided I was too lazy or german was too difficult for me.

Then when thinking a bit about it, I realised I always think about german language in very negative terms, and in fact I think of it as a wall I have to climb, more than a tool that will help me be more successful.

I can imagine that’s what the exercise you explained to me is about.

I have to admit I haven’t start writing this email but I already start thinking about how it will go more or less, and that already has help a bit on the negativity I have towards the language.

I’m now about to start writing this letter, but before I wanted to let you know that you have already helped me more than any other german teacher or basically anybody did regarding this subject, and for that I’m also very grateful.

You’ll here from me again soon,

D.

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