“Wow! She’s bilingual or maybe she is so smart that she can learn a language so easily!”
I am always in awe of people who take time in learning another language. They might have done it for various reasons but whatever it is i think it is one good skill one must have. In the Philippines, our subjects are taught in English and the Filipino or Philippine History class is the only time we can speak and we are taught the language . I can say that English is second nature to me. I actually prefer to converse in English more than in Filipino just because i speak another dialect.
When my husband told me that we will be living in Germany, I was excited at the thought of living in a new place and a new environment. Gulf Air used to have flights to Germany and we usually stay for a night or two and the language was never an issue because you can always manage with sign language or just try to say a word in English and make it sound German. That became my first obstacle when i finally moved here. People assume that you speak the language and they do not really like you asking them if they know how to speak or understand English. When i was doing papers for my residence permit, we had to bring an interpreter with us because the interview will be in German. Since I was still new here and still don’t know the rules of trade, we just obliged. No one wants to mess with the authorities.
Not long after our move here, it dawned on me that i have to step up and learn the language. My husband is not required to speak German in the office so i decided to take one for the team since i will be the one dealing with more Germans and also it is my initiative to be integrated in the society as well. I enrolled in a language school and learned B1 level German for 9 months. It was quite a struggle especially for the first 3 months because in our group, i was the only one with no German language background. I could not even answer “I’m fine” in German. It was a horrible feeling and sometimes it plays on your mind if you can really get through it.
I attended classes daily for 3 hours. I like going to school and that was not much of a problem for me. I tried to study everyday until i got the hang of it. If there is one thing that i learned in language school, it is to not be afraid to try to speak even if you make mistakes. I have a bad habit of always wanting to speak perfectly to the point of not being able to talk anymore. And also, i grew up in an environment where when English is spoken in wrong grammar, people will react. I do not know if it is a Filipino or a Cebuano thing but we take our grammar and pronunciation seriously.
School has been a wonderful experience. Not only in learning a new language but also meeting new friends. School has been part of my journey in living in Germany. After 9 months, i finally got my B1 Certificate and i passed with flying colors. I got 96 points over a 100. I couldn’t be more proud of myself for this achievement.
Anything is possible indeed if you just enjoy the learning process. It may have a few bumps on the road but it was all worth it. Learning a new language can somehow boost your self confidence and it was the timely lift that i needed to adjust in this new life that i have. Hopefully, i will continue learning German language next year and this time i am quite sure of which direction to take. It is never too late to learn something new. If there is an opportunity to learn a new language, i suggest that you take it. It is empowering and it can also make you realize things about yourself. Prepare to be amazed!