July 22, 2004

Staying Germanized

Even after we go back to the States, I'll be working with the group here in Hamburg for the foreseeable future -- including weekly telephone meetings held in German. So, I don't want to lose my current facility with the German language once I go back to speaking English for the majority of my day.

So far, my preparations to keep up with my German back in California are meeting with mixed results. I'll be bringing back a boatload (well, maybe just a bagload) of German-language books and ephemera; hopefully, I'll be more dilligent about reading them back in the States than I was here. (Ha!) I'll be renewing my subscription to the California Staats-Zeitung, a weekly German newspaper -- at roughly $26 a year, it's your greatest German-speaking bargain in California!

However, it may be difficult finding a German class at my level. In Silicon Valley, I was lucky that DeAnza College held on to their full German program; most other community colleges and university extension programs have full multi-year programs for trendy languages (like Chinese and Japanese) and trendy-but-useless languages (like, ahem, French), but you're lucky if you find a school providing more than first-year German. The Goethe-Institut in San Francisco has a full offering of classes at all levels, and I figured their Los Angeles branch would be similar, but the G-I in Los Angeles "no longer has a Language department and therefore no German classes are offered". Oops!

Another idea bouncing around in the back of my mind was to subscribe to GermanTV, a service offered by Deutsche Welle that collects TV programs from various German broadcasters (ARD, ZDF, and DW) into a 24-hour-a-day cable/satellite channel. However, GermanTV isn't carried by DirecTV, the major satellite TV provider in the US, so unless you live in an area with an enlightened cable system (such as those serving the major American metropoli of Akron, Ohio and Marco Island, Florida), you have to buy a separate satellite system just for GermanTV -- using their best deal, paying $324 for the reciever and the first year of service! I don't think I want to watch "Berlin, Berlin" that badly ...

Maybe we'll just go down and hang out at Alpine Village in Torrance.

Posted by Kevin at July 22, 2004 09:46 AM

Just so you readers know, Kevin has an irrational distaste for the French language. He also has an irrational dislike of Sean Penn, but that's another post.

Posted by: Shelby at July 22, 2004 12:47 PM

Aw, see, now you go and make me sound like one of those "Axis of Weasels" "freedom-fry"-eating guys. I have nothing against French per se, it's just that I think there's a tremendous disconnect between the number of people who take (and I won't even go on about the difference between 'take' and 'learn' here) French in America, and the number of people who actually go on to use that French, beyond a one-week trip to Paris or the chance to order poutine once or twice in Quebec.

It's frustrating to have to sign a petition to DeAnza's foreign languages department asking them to save their one upper-level German course (which was actually six classes combined into one, anyway), while they offer endless sections of French to people who are there for no other reason because they need a foreign-language credit, someone told them German was hard, and besides, French is the international language of love, diplomacy, and cuisine! (Don't you like food and sex? You could get a job at the United Nations!)

Okay, maybe I have some irrationality going on here ...

As for Sean Penn, Sam I Am was a crime against humanity for which he can never atone. 21 Grams didn't help much either (the movie where the scriptwriter sat down and asked himself "can I make a movie without a protagonist -- or, for that matter, any likeable characters at all?")

Posted by: Kevin at July 22, 2004 04:10 PM

(And Shelby corrected me last night that it's I Am Sam, not Sam I Am. Eh -- I was just getting a little confused, I guess.)

Posted by: Kevin at July 23, 2004 08:50 AM
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