Unexpected benefits of learning (a bit of) German

imageNo one who has heard me speak German here would have mistaken my decidedly average German language ability for any serious level of fluency… or would they?

Technically my German level is somewhere between B1 and B2 on the European proficiency scale. If you don’t know what this means, you will soon find out once you go to German class here as all of the language schools are organised in this way. It means I am intermediate level – enough to survive and get through most daily situations, but not enough that anyone would enjoy discussing the finer points of politics with me.

However, due to my Anglo-Saxon background, I have noticed that a couple of confidence-inspiring side effects. Firstly, once people figure out (very quickly due to the accent) where I am from, they quickly tell me how good my German is. Fluent, perfect, amazing, (almost) accent free :-)))! Even though I am sensible enough to not believe them, it is still nice to be showered with motivational compliments. Ah, the benefits of coming from a country where the idea of speaking a second language for many is like a long-lost dream…! The Germans have such low expectations for us :-). I can guarantee if I was from a different part of the world expectations would be rather different…

The second benefit has the same root cause. A few times now, I have been visited by British and American friends and as usual I provide a bit of a guided tour, using my limited grasp of the language to show people around. I can hear how bad my German is but it is fascinating to see that to those with no foreign language skills, my German sounds amazing! Cue the compliments again :-).

Someone over there in the Ministry of Education needs to take a careful look at the level of language tuition in schools. But in the meantime, I will continue to bask in the glory of mediocre German skills…

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