In as much as I would like to take full credit on how well I learned a new language, I just cannot because one of the major factors was my teacher, of course. As another class ended last week, I cannot help but feel bittersweet. I am happy because I get to have a break in doing essays and reading new articles in German but I am also sad because it might be my last class with my one and only favorite German teacher.
Luckily, my teacher is German. There are a lot of language schools here and usually the teacher is also a foreigner who speaks good German or maybe a foreign teacher who found a new subject to teach. But in most cases, it is always much better to learn with a local.
This school was recommended by a friend and she only had nice things to say about them. I was fortunate enough that I still had a slot for the upcoming class because it was not my plan yet to learn the language. I thought I could relax for a while since I just moved in this country after my wedding. Being a competitive person, it was a struggle at first because I had zero background of the German language. I always felt inadequate going to class. It took a lot of self convincing and most of the time, I literally had to drag myself to go to class.
No one forgets their first day. He is tall, wearing a pair of eyeglasses and he has white hair. Yes. He is old but not too old. He actually scared me a little but I got more scared when he said that English should be thrown in the bin. Oh My Gosh! How will I survive this? I do not even know what to answer when someone asks “Wie geht’s?”. Yeah. That was simply “How are you?” in English. I am doomed. I just did it the stewardess way – smile until it hurts.
Now you see, that moment when he forbade speaking English was actually of great help to my learning. When I was struggling to speak, I did not easily give up and uttered an English word but instead, I really tried my best to find that appropriate word in my German vocabulary to fit my sentence. It was a test of strength, patience and determination.
Through time I got to know a little bit of his personality, his teaching style and how he can be like a parent to us too since we spend 3 hours of our time everyday with him. He is funny and he can also be sarcastic when need be. He loves chocolates and he never failed to ask us what we did the day before. It was just his way of making us talk actually. Small talk, as they say. Sometimes we find ourselves so quiet in class and that question is simply an ice breaker.
I know that we expect our teachers to be all-knowing but he is indeed this kind. He is a walking encyclopedia and a walking street map of Wiesbaden, too. It always interests me to talk to a person like him because you can always learn something new.
My teacher is not only my teacher but he is also my friend. I cannot say that we are the best of friends but he is a genuinely nice person and definitely not a stereotype of a typical German. I am lucky that he was the first German person that I interacted with, so with this as a reference, the others seem so bad. No pun intended. To be honest, I will miss my teacher. I look up to him and he reminds me of my father. Not only will I miss school but will also miss our after school Friday beer sessions. He was the first person who believed in us, his students, when we doubted ourselves and when we thought that we could never learn the language. His patience, I think, is incomparable. I believe it is harder to teach adults than children so props to him for that.
For the things that I could not say to my teacher because maybe I am just like this to people that I get attached to or I am too emotional, I am writing it down here. Thank you so much for the encouragement, the belief and the guidance, Mr. Teacher. You definitely changed my life in one way or another. I have never in a million years believed that I can learn a new language. Aside from that, thank you for the funny jokes and for the “I know what you mean” look that makes us both laugh. You definitely knew that it was not easy for us to move to a new country but you always made us feel that we can talk to you anytime. You even give us advices or translate a complicated letter that we received from the mail. These are simple gestures but they are always appreciated. I wish you all the best and I wish for your good health always. I am sure that you will continue to teach more students and influence their lives and they may not even realize it. I am glad that I crossed paths with you and I am forever grateful. Until we meet again.