I have come to the conclusion (it has only taken me 40 years) that stepping outside your comfort zone can be both empowering and extremely rewarding. Not only do you acquire new skills but you get a massive confidence boost. I like to refer to it as the ‘I can do this‘ rush and there’s nothing quite like it.
This year I have set my fear of the unknown aside and have signed up to learn German with the Deutsch Centre. I am taking my children along on the learning journey and they are very keen. Speaking a second language is a necessity for my children and German will enhance their future prospects substantially. I have no doubt that they will take to the new language like ducks to water – I just hope that I can swim as well as they can.
Since the end of January we have enjoyed a few lessons in which we have learnt the alphabet and some basic phrases. It is a much more enjoyable experience than I had anticipated. Each week I have seen the children gain more confidence when speaking which makes me so proud of them both.
This week our lesson was cancelled due to ill health. A doctor friend of mine once told me that February and March are the months of the year when viruses are at their most prevalent. My seven year old is like a magnet attracting coughs and colds on an almost weekly basis – we look forward to the onset of spring with great enthusiasm.
We were disappointed to miss our lessons as they have become a much anticipated event. We had practised the German ABC song and had plucked up enough courage to sing it for our tutor. It will wait, of course, although I am not sure that it will improve.
Antje, our teacher, came up with a wonderful suggestion as a way of maintaining the children’s interest in the language between lessons. She seems to have an arsenal of great teaching ideas ready to deploy as and when needed. She advised that we bring a little of Germany to our home for a couple of days. The idea was to prevent the children’s enjoyment of the language stagnating and to see the gap as an opportunity to learn about German culture.
We decided to find out about some quintessentially German foods. The boys went on a fact finding mission researching what meals were typically German and then looking to see if they could obtain the ingredients in our local area.
We ate a variety of German style food for two days. I say style because finding many of the foods proved extremely difficult. We ate bratwurst with mustard (most of which was scraped off by the boys) served with boiled potatoes and carrots. The following day we had frikadellen with coleslaw ( sauerkraut was illusive) and mashed potatoes. German meatballs with potato salad went down extremely well and have been added to the weekly meal list. We also had German ham and cheese with a selection of speciality breads however I suspect that English bread is very different from that found in Germany.
During mealtimes we listened to various pieces of German music from classical to modern day. This was much more useful than I had anticipated because we all heard German as we listened which helped to familiarise us with the more unusual sounds of the language.
We put up some bunting which has the German months of the year printed on it. It makes a fun addition to the dining room as well as being a good learning tool.
We attempted to make sauerkraut but learned that red cabbage doesn’t work as well as white so we will refine our skills and try again.
We have taken a lot from our German week. The children have picked up some interesting facts about Germany and have thrown themselves into tasting new foods. There have been opportunities to practice the phrases and words we have learnt to date – the children have retained everything which amazes me. So despite missing out on our much loved German lessons all has not been lost.
The Deutsch Centre will be offering German lessons to children from September. Our tutor has a fun competition underway on their Facebook page at the moment which I thought I would share with you.