September 23, 2003

First Day of School

Today was the first day of our new German class at De Anza community college. I started German last year at De Anza and completed 3 quarters--one academic year. Now I'm in the second year class, which is considered an upper level class, and since German is not a popular language all of the upper level classes are lumped together in one room. So we have German 4 students (like myself), German 5, German 6, and German Conversation which is the most advanced you can get at De Anza. Kevin is in the Conversation class, so we are able to carpool which is nice.

The disadvantage is that there is a wide variety of skill levels in the class. In German 1, 2, and 3 I could count on pretty much everyone being at my level. Well today in class it soon became clear that I was among the very least fluent. We had to interview a neighbor and introduce him or her to the rest of the class. My neighbor and I were the only ones who really stumbled our way through our introductions. Part of my downfall was that I just wrote down his answers to the questions rather than writing down a complete sentence that I would use to introduce him. So when it came time for me to speak, I had to construct sentences on the fly and got nervous and did worse than I could have.

The other part of the problem was that literally half of the students were saying things like "He is from Bosnia and was a refugee in Germany for 3 years..." and "She is from Russia and lived in Germany for 7 years..." and "He is Polish and studied German for 12 years..." I couldn't believe the number of foreign born students and ALL of them had either lived in Germany or had studied German in school for several years prior to the US. They all spoke a minimum of 3 languages. It was rather intimidating, really.

Our teacher is really nice though. Last year I had a different instructor because I was taking the night class, but this year I'm in the daytime class. Kevin took the day class last year and so has had Frau Melas before. When we had our break, Frau Melas came over to me and my partner to chat with us--I think the panicked look on our faces and the fact that we weren't conversing fluently in German gave us away. She encouraged us to stick with it and to not be intimidated, which was nice. I don't feel embarrassed about making mistakes in class even though I know I will be one of the slowest students.

Besides, there's a woman in the class who was in my class last year and I know for a fact that she's much less fluent than I am. So there :).

Posted by Shelby at September 23, 2003 11:38 PM

I feel your pain, Shelby. Last Wednesday was the first session of Japanese IV at Schoolcraft College (, a local community college. I think it's the first time level IV has been offered, so there's several different groups of level III students coming together. There's also a couple of new ones.

One of them just spent a year in Japan and is taking the class to make sure he doesn't lose the language. When he introduced himself, he was using verb forms that I know we haven't encountered in class yet, and his delivery was smooth. Some of the other new students are also good speakers.

Darnit, I was used to being ichiban (first)! :)

Posted by: Erik at September 24, 2003 02:30 PM
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