My Toughest Challenge: The German Language - My First Impression
Learning a foreign language is something that comes fairly easy to some people; I am very envious of these people. Language learning has never been a strength of mine going back to freshman year of high school and Spanish 1 class (or English 1 for that matter). I got a D (so a Austrian 4) in Spanish 1 and that was the lowest grade I ever got in my whole academic career. At least I followed it up with a C in Spanish 2 so... progress... I guess. So fast-forward to now, I am, and have been for 3.5 years, living in Austria with the 3 words I have retained from Spanish class, and now it is time to go all in on learning German.
Progress up until this point has been slow but consistent. Very shortly after I realized that Tirol is probably going to become my new home, I started trying to learn German. I started with taking a A1.1 German Course which is the entry course to German. It blew my mind. With the different articles and genders of words and not to mention the cases, it was all a little overwhelming and unfortunately, the course was pretty underwhelming. With 22 students packed into a small classroom with a teacher that seemed a bit frustrated with the amount of students and the lack of effort by some students, the whole experience was not as productive as I would of hoped.
So because of the lack of individual time in the course, I then thought private training was the way to go. This way I could have everything explain to me and the lesson customized to my needs. Well, it turns out private tutors are very expensive and way over my budget. Luckily, some friends of mine offered to help me out. We met once or twice a week for the next year or so and that really gave me a great foundation to build on but the progress was slow. Only meeting several times a week and to be honest, me not spending the time required outside of class, led to slow but steady learning.
This led us to the decision that I should give another course a try with an intensive schedule for quicker development. My wife and I searched for a new company that offers German Language courses and found WIFI. We had both heard positive feedback that WIFI has great teachers and smaller class sizes, which intrigued us. So I signed up and headed to class excited but also anxious.
I think the most important thing a language course can offer their students is comfort. Learning a new language is uncomfortable to say the least. Often times trying to speak in front of the class can be nerve-racking and even embarrassing. Every student experiences moments like this and at these times, there has to be an environment where you know it is ok the screw up or look dumb because there are 13 other people experiencing the exact same thing. What it boils down to is that the students have to know it is ok to be vulnerable and to trust the environment we are in.
This environment can only be built by one person, the teacher. My teacher has been nothing but comforting and positive throughout this first course. She has built a group learning environment that is actually a pleasure to be in. I don't dread going to class. Sure, it can be exhausting at times but somehow it has not been displeasurable. This group environment and shared learning experience suits me better as well. I have always operated within a team and really need a team to help me be as productive as possible, probably why I was not always so motivated by private tutoring. So my first impression of my new course at WIFI is a positive one and I can't believe I am say it but I actually look forward for what is to come!