No matter how old and not-SO-wise I became, the first day of anything fills me with equal parts anticipation, excitement and fear. The first two propel me forward, filling me with hope and determination; fear, however, only inhibits me and makes me want to flee.
Someone once opined that ‘life is too short to learn German.” Boy, do I know what that person meant. Although there are moments, reading a German menu (Bier, Brot, Wein) or reading signs along the streets (Kindergarten, Schule, Cinemas), when I feel confident that I can learn German, the majority of my moments in Germany are lost in a foreign fog (Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaen, Minderwertigkeitskomplex, Vernachlaessigugn). Learning a new language, at my more mature age, is more challenging than I ever imagined. Why didn’t I learn German instead of French in High School? Not that I can remember any of my French now. It’s lost somewhere with my Adam Ant albums and my mixed cassettes of favorite songs from OMD, Alphaville, New Order and Gang of Four.
After trying a few classes and teachers, I realized that I learn best from teachers who are passion about what they are teaching and who are well prepared. Duh, right? But the majority of the teachers seem to lack passion or even an ounce of enthusiasm for their subject or their pupils. It’s as if they think their role as teachers is to show up, select exercises in the workbook, ask the students to do them in pairs, and then escape to their computers at the front of the class. Really? Is that what teaching is? If so, then what value do we receive from attending a class? Couldn’t we just complete the workbook by ourselves at home and check the answers ourselves? The passionate teachers I have had usually keep everybody on their toes. We’re either standing up or sitting down, only for a sec, and either way we’re constantly engaged in speaking, writing, or interacting with each other. Whether that is to play vocabulary games, to write stories on butcher papers, or to present and act those stories out to our peers, passionate teachers engage us to learn in class by interacting with each other. Interactive learning. That’s my preferred method for learning anything, especially German.