So as you may or may not know, I am pushing myself in German so that I can have a basic conversation by June. I have my weekly private lesson, not one but two exchange partners, am reading Greg’s Tagebuch, and force myself to go to a weekly Facebook meetup for German people.
I can feel myself getting better – it doesn’t take me 30 mins to read a page of text and I’m checking much fewer words than when I first started. But it only takes a little bump in my road to set me off course.
Last week I went to the Facebook meetup, walked in and looked around. I saw one guy I went on a date with once, but who has since ignored the couple of texts I sent him. He was talking to two girls. I went to the other side of the room, bought a beer and stood, as I usually do. Normally this is when someone else who is on their own comes over and starts to talk with me. I explain that I can’t speak German that well, but I want to practise. They say “sure, let’s do this” and we have a semi-butchered conversation.
But this didn’t happen this time. I stood awkwardly for 20 minutes.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I just go up to someone and say “HI I’M HERE TALK TO ME”? Well, I know that my German is terrible. I know that Neu in Frankfurt is somewhat of a meat market and, like my past date, people have things other than talking to an awkward short British girl on their mind when they go there.
After a while, I joined a small group of girls. They were ok, but it was obvious that they would have preferred not to talk to me. I spent a total of one hour at the event before I just gave up and went home.
It’s almost a week since that meetup and I still feel crap. German friends have been trying to coax me into speaking in German with them but I just snapped back. Truth is, I know I’m so much better than I was even a month ago and when I go back to my German class tomorrow, my teacher will probably have some kind of comment on how much I’ve come along over Christmas. But I see friends who have been here a while just breeze through German conversations and I just stand there being awkward.
There are times when my language learning hits a plateaux, but in this case this isn’t the problem. One small hiccup creates so much negativity in me which in turn blocks my language learning progress.
I’ve been here before with Japanese, though not on this scale. I hope the feeling goes away soon, but I hope to overcome this phase by creating small goals for me in German. Small things like being able to go get an eye test and new glasses in German are real boosts for me. If I can push myself into more of these situations maybe it’ll coax me back into the Neu in Frankfurt group again.
Language learners! Have you ever experienced something like this? How do you overcome it?