Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Exploring the ups and downs to learning a second language!

For about 8 years, I have been going to German School every Saturday. It can be exhausting having school for 6 out of 7 days every week, but I am happy with what I’ve gained from it. For example, it’s become easier to communicate and stay in touch with my family in Europe and in the future, I might have more job opportunities not only because I know the language but because I am also familiar with the German culture!

To start off, German School is exactly what it sounds like; a school I go to to learn how to speak and write in German! During school hours, we watch videos of things like the German news, we study German grammar in our workbooks, we practice having conversations in German, and we practice writing. A lot of times we also have special events that are from German culture like Karneval, a holiday which is like Halloween in that you dress up and eat candy, but it’s more colorful and not at all scary.

Another fact about German School is the people in my class have actually been some of the same people that have been in my class since I first started this school. This is also how classes are in Germany, so we are not just learning the language, but what life there is like! Unfortunately, this means that you can get stuck with some people you don't’ like, and let’s just say I can relate to this problem…

Towards the end of the school year, we have a test where we have to show how well we can write, speak, and understand the language. There are even awards that come with doing well on some of these tests! These tests make it easier to complete the final tests that then give you your German diploma, a document that allows you to go to University in Germany!

Now that you know what German School is, let me tell you how my experience with it has been so far. I am content with the knowledge I’ve gained. German is actually my third language along with Spanish and English. Knowing how to speak many languages is something I really enjoy, but there is a downside to it...

Having an extra workload in any situation is a struggle, and not getting the different grammar for three different languages mixed up is also pretty hard.

In fact, in 5th grade I was in a spelling bee and was asked to spell the word paddle. Seems easy right? However, with the amount of nerves I had and the Spanish in me, I spelled it P-A-D-D-E-L instead of P-A-D-D-L-E. It was really embarrassing! This has also happened to me with German. Every time I come back from a trip from Germany, I actually have trouble not adding in some German words when I’m speaking in English! As opposed to Spanglish, I’m speaking Germish! It can be funny, but also kind of annoying. I often wonder if I will ever be as proficient in English as somebody who only speaks the one language.

Like I said earlier, there are always the same people in my class and some have become a distraction. Similar to many other schools, there are people who are constantly whispering and laughing during class, and it’s really disrespectful to those of us who are actually trying to learn!

Luckily, in German school there are not as many people in my class, and if someone does something wrong, then that person has to face the consequences. Unlike in public school, where if one person did something wrong the whole class would be punished because the teachers said it was “too hard to tell who did it”. There is much more justice in German School which is definitely a positive thing. It’s unfortunate that this kind of fairness isn’t seen more in other schools!

Knowing multiple languages can be really beneficial for your future. For example, it’s a good thing to have on your resume and it can also give you more options based on the specifications of the job! It also gives you more options on where you want to study. There could be a university in Germany that’s better than one in your home country, and you’d have the option to go there for much less cost! This is actually something I’m considering doing. I visited a university in Frankfurt, Germany, last summer and it was amazing! I do still have to go to German School for another two years to be able to do this because I need my German diploma for it.

10 years of German School sounds crazy, but don’t worry, if you’re interested in going to a school like this, you won’t have to go nearly as long. I did because I started at a really young age. I’m pretty excited to be finished with German School --- I can’t wait to become even more fluent!

Overall, I really do enjoy German School despite all the sacrifices I’ve had to make such as giving up certain team sports, Friday night sleepovers, and other events that typically happen Saturday mornings. It’s fun to experience and be a part of multiple, different cultures and to have so many more options for my future!

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