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Pottering Around

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. So much so that at Nottingham, I’m a member of the Quidditch and Harry Potter society and was even on the committee during my second year. Despite this, last summer I realised I hadn’t actually read the books in a very long time. So the month before I moved to Germany I reread books 1-3. However, I didn’t bring the others with me. This led to me buying Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch in my first few weeks in Ilmenau. I have finally finished it. (Considering I read Deathly Hallows in roughly four hours, six months for the Goblet of Fire is somewhat impressive.)

Obviously, the majority of the world knows about Harry Potter, so I’m not going to review it or anything like that. I am, however, going to talk about certain things that tickled my fancy whilst reading it in German. There are probably spoilers. Beware.

1. Hermione is called Hermine in German. I’m not entirely sure why it’s changed, maybe Hermine is German for Hermione. All I know is that every time I read it, I hear the part from A Very Potter Sequel where Ron and Harry are searching for Hermione in the shrieking shack and cannot get her name right. (You can find it here, at about 4:02-4.20)

2. Buckbeck is called Seidenschnabel, which is a fantastic sounding word. According to Google translate it means silken beak, so is not a direct translation. But awesome sounding nonetheless.

3. The German for remembrall is erinnermich, which means remind me/remember me. Pretty accurate translation of remembrall if you ask me.

4. I always wondered how punny names got translated into other languages. For example, The Knight Bus. Turns out in German, The Knight Bus is the Fahrender Ritter, which means the travelling Knight. Guess that pun didn’t really translate so well.

5.  One of the important parts of Harry Potter are the fantastic beasts (and where to find them). I always figured most mythological creatures were called the same in every language, but I am an idiot. I did, however, realise that some creatures would have to have new names because JK Rowling made them up. Like, Boggart. [Edit: I’ve been reliably informed that Boggarts existed in folklore before Harry Potter. Apologies for my mistake.] I did some googling and Irrlicht means will o’ the wisp in German. I feel like that’s probably the route of the German for Irrwicht, which is Boggart.

6. Die Kammer des Schreckens is the Chamber of Secrets. Seeing as secrets is Geheimnisse, I was surprised, but I feel like Chamber of Horrors makes more sense for a place that is home to a giant, terrifying snake. (If the Basilisk didn’t scare you, you’re probably a Gryffindor.)

7. Die Karte des Rumtreibers is the Marauders‘ map. According to my favourite dictionary site, Rumtreibers is not a word that exists in German. So yes.

8. Speaking of the marauders, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs are Moony, Wurmschwanz, Tatze and Krone. Which is Moony, Wormtail, Paw and Crown. Don’t tell James Potter. His head’s big enough as it is.

9. Whilst on the subject of nicknames, Sirius Black is often referred to as snuffles in Book 4. In German this is Schnuffel. Which sounds way more cutsey and amuses me greatly.

9. So seeing as Tom Marvolo Riddle spells out I am Lord Voldemort (seriously, how bored was Voldemort when he figured that out?), his name has to change in other languages. In German, he becomes Tom Vorlost Riddle. Still sounds pretty made up bad ass to me.

10. Mudblood becomes Schlammblut as a direct translation.

11. Schuleulen means school owls and Eulerei means owlery. Nothing remarkable about this except they are fantastic sounding words in German.

12. Talking of fantastic words, wizards pack of cards becomes Zauberschnippschnappacken in German. Gotta love the German compound nouns.

13. Goblet of Fire begins to show the Wizarding community as an international world, which means reading dialogue by Krum and Fleur, as accented German. It’s fantastic. Reading French and Bulgarian accented German is super odd, but amazing as well.

14. Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans are Bertie Botts bohnen jeder Geschmacksrichtung, which makes me want to bemoan the lack of alliteration, but they’re not exactly fully alliterative in English either.

15. Pensieve is German is das Denkarium. Personally, I prefer the German, but I think that’s mainly because I can say it. Unlike the English which has me tripping over the knots in my tongue.

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A Small Beth Comes to Stay.

This is Beth:

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Beth with picturesque Ilmenau in the background.

Beth has known me since I was 11 and wasn’t going to let a little thing like me being in a different country getting in the way of hanging out. After a couple of disasters regarding transport (long story, don’t ask), Beth finally made it to Ilmenau, where we drank copious amounts of tea and generally caught up on each other’s lives. It’s not like we skype every week or anything…

Saturday was intended to be spent wandering around Ilmenau, and while we did manage to do that, it took us a good few hours to stop talking long enough to change out of pyjamas and actually head into town. She got the grand tour, encompassing my school, the internet café and the goats that are the town’s emblem. She also got to meet two of the girls I teach, because they came running up to me in the street. I had to spend a few minutes explaining that Beth didn’t speak any German which is why we were talking in English. Beth kind of ruined this by then saying ‘Tschüss’, to which one of the girls went ‘she can speak German!’ I had to explain that just because Beth vaguely remembered the basics from five, painful, years of compulsory German, it did not mean Beth can speak German. We were wished Goodbye in English several times before we actually left them. After cake and tea and hot chocolate at the internet café, we headed back to my flat via the supermarket so Beth could enjoy the delights of Netto. Cue much talking again.

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Pretty sure I live in a fairytale.

We had stockpiled pizza in expectation of a lazy Sunday, thanks to the German habit of closing everything on Sundays. However, we dressed in our best adventuring dresses and going on a wander through the wood at the back of my flat. In the rain, I might add. Beth appears to have brought the bad Welsh weather with her. We then headed towards the Freizeit Zentrum to coo over animals. After not realising that we had to pay and being gently reprimanded by a German lady, we were allowed entrance.

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So my birthday’s coming up. Can has a kid?

Highlights included ‘who-ing’ at an owl and getting a reply, talking Japanese to a donkey, and baby goats being the most adorable creatures to roam this earth. Essentially we spent half an hour ish cooing over animals and sounding thoroughly mad. There were also several animals who looked like they were wearing cartoon thief face masks, and we decided that the Freizeit Zentrum is actually a cover for the International School of Animal Criminal Masterminds. There was a pheasant that Beth decided looked like Moriarty, as well as a raccoon who would make a fantastic bank robber.

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The King of the Thieves.

Finally, once we had properly out-weirded ourselves we headed to McDonalds, and spent an age there waiting for the rain to ease off so we could walk back to my flat, in order to consume pizza and watch films. When leaving McDonalds, talking English, a complete stranger said hello to us. In English. Cue me being confused and Beth thinking I knew them. Well done us.

On Monday we headed to Erfurt. I gave Beth the guided tour of the town, which included the cathedral, the town hall, and side streets I’d not been down before. We visited my favourite shop, which is a kids books shop, where we spent a decent amount of time reading “Where is My Hat?” and other Jon Klassen books auf Deutsch. We also wandered into many kitsch-y shops and had schnitzel and bratwurst for lunch, as well as spending an age in a Viennese café. Essentially, we did a ton of things in Erfurt without ending up in any of the many museums or pubs.

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Yet another picture of the Erfurt cathedral.

And then the final day of the Beth&Kat show we had a wander into Ilmenau again, seeing as I needed to go to the post office. Afterwards, we headed to the chocolate café, which turned out to be closed. Not to be deterred, we went to the ice cream parlour and ate Spaghetti Eis. Because when in Rome. We did not go to the café meeting, but instead stayed in, eating way too much chocolate.

It was a wrench to get up on Wednesday, not only because Beth was leaving, but because we’d made a habit of staying up till 4am, so we weren’t great at the whole getting out of bed thing. However, we made it to Beth’s train on time and there was much rejoicing over that, until we realised that meant she’d have to go back to Wales. Ah well.

I spent the rest of the day consoling myself with fast food and tutoring. And at tutoring I got paid the normal amount, despite only Victoria being there. The parents of my tutees are the best. Beth eventually made it back to the UK, though as I was asleep by the time she started back to Cardiff, I don’t actually know if she made it…

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Week long Valentine’s

Monday I was in work. This is a foreign concept to me, seeing as Mondays are my day off. However, I was asked to join class 3/4c at the Freizeit Zentrum (remember it from a couple of posts before Christmas?) to learn about animals in winter. Twas very interesting, and I learnt that a boar pelt is more bristly than soft, and that a deer pelt is the softest thing ever. Even more so than a rabbit pelt.

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I drew the line at touching the dead baby snake.

However, the kids managed to wind me up more than usual, and seeing as it was my day off, and I didn’t have to be there, I left early. Well, they say never to work with children and animals. The rest of the day was spent fairly productively. I applied for work experience, figured out what I should say about Valentine’s Day and produced worksheets for tutoring.

Tuesday, of course, I was at work. In the first class, I talked about Valentine’s Day then supervised as the kids made Valentine’s Day cards. In the second, I was greeted by four pupils who wanted to sing a song. Then the teacher turned up and said they good. So we were treated to a rendition of Lieder, a song that has been everywhere during my year abroad to the extent that I went and bought the CD. They were learning about directions which gave me flashbacks to year 8 or 9. Gehen Sie über die Brücke (Go across the bridge) has stayed with me ever since.

Tuesday evening I did not go to the BC Café meeting. Instead I stayed home nursing a horrific headache and skyping my grandparents. The latter was great, the former not so much.

When I rocked up to the bus stop on Wendesday, I was confronted with this fantastic piece of engineering. I have not stood under that bus stop since.

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Behold, the wonders of German engineering.

(Yes, that is a stick propping up a bus stop)

At school, the teachers and I was very confused about where I was meant to be, and ended up in two English lessons, talking about Valentine’s Day, and then in two English lessons I’m not normally in, helping to teach about clothes. Or ‘clothe-ses’ as the teacher began by saying. The day was rounded off by yet another round of Valentine’s Day Card making.

Tutoring was interesting seeing as Victoria was ill, so it was just me and Luka. We worked our way back through the names of the continents, some names of countries and then moved onto languages. I may have been mean and put dutch in there. But he did really well, and told me all about his plans for the holidays, which was really sweet.

My two hours on Thursday were not spent in uselessness! There was no maths test, just maths work, which meant answering questions about what they had to do, and then, when the teacher went out the room, keeping the quiet. And telling them to do work. Apparently they think that I won’t notice them swearing at each other if they do it in the midst of rapid German. 1) Kids are never as sneaky as they think they are and 2) they were swearing in English. So that went well for them.

Fantastically, I got a package from home on Thursday. I’d asked Dad if he could send me a couple of Valentine’s cards to show the kids and gravy granules, because I’d run out. Making excellent use of the remaining space in the box, he also sent me a stack of English chocolate. Though, I’m not going to lie, I was more excited about the gravy than the chocolate.

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Dad knows me well.

Thursday afternoon the nice man at the internet shop asked me if I’d considered getting normal internet as opposed to 3G, because I’m at that shop a lot. Awkward. Trying to explain that there is normal internet but I can’t access it because I’m not enrolled at the university is bad enough in English, never mind in German.

In other German encounters from Thursday, the power went in our kitchen. Now, I’m a grown up. I know to check the fuse box. Thing is that only helps if you know where the fuse box is. I did not. And nor could I find it. And nor was there anyone else in my flat. So I did the sensible thing and went to the site office. But because I don’t know what fusebox is in German, I couldn’t just ask where it is, and as I began with ‘the power’s gone’, next thing I know the guy’s promising to send an electrician type person over as soon as everyone’s back from their lunch break. Happily, Therese came home before that and was like ‘the fusebox’s here’. To her eternal credit, she didn’t make me feel like an idiot for not seeing it, though honestly, it’s in the hall – I am an idiot for not seeing it. This meant I then had to go back and tell the guy that no electrician type person was necessary, because I am an idiot, but thanks to my flatmate, it was all sorted.

Friday was the last day of school, before half term. In my first lesson the kids ran through a play about Snow White (in English) for the millionth time. For the last five minutes or so, I explained Valentine’s Day, but they were so not interested.

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Behold the extent of a lesson on Valentine’s Day.

In contrast, my second (and last) class of the day were a delight, and spent most of the lesson diligently making Valentine’s cards, all of which were presented to me for inspection. One of them was even given to me. I also got given chocolate by the head teacher “because it’s Valentine’s Day”, which was really sweet of her.

After buying lunch with the rest of the staff from a takeaway, I headed home, stopping only to buy flowers, because flowers are fantastic and if I didn’t buy myself some, I’d never have any. This evening Beth is rocking up to Ilmenau to cause mayhem and havoc…I mean, to visit me for a few days, which is all kinds of awesome. However, I should probably tidy my room and stuff, so I’ll leave you with a selfie.

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Way too excited that I put flowers in my hair.

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Accent-ally sounding Thüringenese

I have a lot of feelings about my accent, especially since someone in my home town laughed at it. (A jerk genuinely called across a pub to ask a friend what my accent was and then laughed. Ruined the end of the story I was telling.) Essentially, my accent is a huge mash up, featuring Geordie, Yam-yam and the southern influences of my university friends. This mean I get the mick taken by my home friends and university friends. Phrases like “you sounded so southern then!” and “I’m sorry, try that word again?” regularly make an appearance in my life.

Sadly this heightened awareness of my accent only happens in English. I have no idea how I sound when I speak German. Actually, that’s not true. I made the mistake of asking a German if I sounded English when I spoke German. Yes. Yes I do, is the answer. So rather than get bogged down in how my accent is, I’d like to point out three Thuringien dialect features. Or possibly just three Ilmenauese features. (Either way, the title of this blog is misleading because I’m gonna look at dialect. But I couldn’t pass up the terrible terrible pun.)

1. ‘Ge?’

Ge or geh or however it’s spelt is the Ilmenau equivalent of ‘oder?’, which when added at the end of a sentence with a questioning tone is the German version of ‘right?’. Can be used for seeking clarification or affirmation.

Personally, I can’t stop saying it. I keep nearly saying it in English. I say it more than native Ilmenauers. It’s a compulsion, like talking about the weather with the only other person at the bus top at 7.20 and telling the kids to sit properly on their chairs otherwise they’ll crack their heads open.

2. Drei viertel…

Bear with me, because I can’t quite get my head round this one without serious thought. Drei viertel zehn (three quarter ten) means quarter to ten. Not quarter to eleven. It’s like an extension of the whole German ‘yes, when we mean 8.30 we’ll say half 9’. Whatever the reasoning or twisted logic behind it, it’s one feature I am not going to use. I’m paranoid enough about messing up times in German thanks to the aforementioned cack-handed way of dealing with 30 minutes past the hour – there’s no way I’m going to attempt drei viertel…

3. Pfannkuchen

As anyone who was my friend on Facebook during second year of uni will know, I am insanely proud of being able to order pancakes in Arabic. Seriously, that was the highlight of learning Arabic for me. Managed to get it into every oral exam. So my claim was that I could order pancakes in three languages – Arabic, English and German. Yeah, about that…

So here in Ilmenau, Pfannkuchen does not mean pancakes. It means doughnuts. Everywhere else in Germany* Pfannkuchen means pancakes and Berliner means doughnut. Berliner was one of the first pieces of German I learnt outside of class, thanks to this video. (Yes, it’s more Eddie Izzard, yes, there’s some swearing.) And this crucial piece of vocab is now redundant. I think I might have to go eat a Pfannkuchen or three to cheer myself up.

* possibly a slight exaggeration. Or just plain wrong. I did not fact check.

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Procrastination, Perfect Children and Poetry Slams.

As you may remember from my last weekly update, I suspected I was getting ill. Thanks to this, Monday was spent in bed, feeling very sorry for myself and making endless cups of tea. Yes, even more endless than usual. Turns out I wasn’t ill. Just lazy and self-pitying. Ah well, what’s new?

Tuesday was a fantastic day, work wise. Since the Christmas holidays the kids have been brats. Like, tearing my hair out, why doesn’t Germany appear to have any penalty system in schools, why am I working in a primary school type brats. However, Tuesday was the day that 1) I convinced yet another class that Birmingham is where it’s at, not London, 2) I did conversation practice with six fantastic kids and ended talking about Indiana Jones and Assassin’s Creed, and 3) I was informed by one of the more rowdy kids that everyone at the school loves me. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it’s nice to hear.

Of course there was a Café meeting in the evening, remarkable only for how short it was. I also learnt that while there may come a day when Dad doesn’t stress out because I’ve phoned him, that day will not arrive whilst I’m living in a foreign country.

Wednesday was a busy day as always, though in my first class I was mainly decorative. However, for the first time I joined in with chants from the textbook. I have now heard them so many times I feel like I’m never going to forget them. ‘Lots of spaghetti on a big big plate’ is going to haunt me till I die. In my second class I did conversation practice again. Upon hearing they could ask me anything, the two groups had very different reactions. The first group wanted to know if I was married; the second wanted to know what I thought of lightsabers. Priorities.

In class 3/4c we went on a 2km walk, so the kids knew what one kilometer was like. For once I didn’t have to tell the boys off for messing around in the street. Wednesday was the turn of the girls. It would be great if we could go somewhere without the kids attacking each other.

In my final class of the day, we sang some more chants and then I had to ask what colours had been assigned to numbers. Don’t ask. And then I was free to go home and collapse before tutoring. This week in tutoring the kids staged a mutiny against playing Memory, so I now have to come up with new, innovative ways of getting them to practice vocabulary. I’ll work on it when I’m more up to date with sleep…Wait, no, then I’ll never do it. I’ll work on it over the weekend.

Thursday I had my two classes as always. During the first they had a maths test so I wasn’t needed, and in the second they were doing Geography, during which they do not need help. Except for me pointing out that Rio De Janerio is a city not a country. The rest of Thursday was spent procrastinating, mainly by reading ‘It Felt Like a Kiss’ by Sarra Manning, because when one of your favourite authors has a new book out, you’ve gotta read it as soon as you get it.

My first English lesson on Friday was cancelled, so I helped in two German lessons instead. I marked Maths tests and listened to the kids read. My second English lesson was about animal body parts, so ‘mane’, ‘tail’, ‘beak’ etc. The kids found it hysterical every time I said ‘schwanz’ aka ‘tail’ because, apparently, it’s slang. I’ll let you figure out what it’s slang for. I also got into a debate with two of the kids about whether elephants can fly. They were citing Dumbo, and were shocked that I knew what happens in Dumbo. I forget that to them I’m old and therefore can’t possibly know the plots of Disney films. Being able to argue in German that Dumbo had a magic feather and normal elephants don’t therefore they can’t fly is probably one the highlights of this year. My third and final class were repeating numbers and colours. At least they were meant to be – they were more interested in hitting each other.

But it was finally the weekend and I had plans. Saturday I was at the house of one of the teachers, the teacher of the infamous class 3/4c. We had duck and dumplings (a typical Thüringen dish, I’m told), watched a fairy tale film, wandered round the village in which she lives, played Uno. It was a very enjoyable day, even if I was on my best behaviour all day. It was a little like visiting someone else’s grandparents without your friend as a buffer. But her husband said I speak good German and was thoroughly impressed with my pronunciation of ‘ü’ so I guess the best behaviour was worth it.

Sunday I went to a poetry slam because I’m under the delusion that if I go to cool things, that’ll make me cool. It was pretty good – I understood 90% of what was said, so yay me. I’m just thankful I didn’t have to analyse it. As for my Sunday evening plans, I have a date with several cups of tea and Chicago. Partying hard as always.

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When I Grow Up

I wanna be famous, I wanna be a star, I wanna be in movies… Wait, no, that’s The Pussycat Dolls. When I grow up, I want… Well, I don’t know.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher. That was the plan. Then I realised I never ever want to work in a secondary school and that there were a plethora of jobs out there that I’d never heard of. That realisation came when I was about 16/17, Just in time to start applying for university. Skipping over the myriad of reasons that led to me applying for straight honours German (that’s a blog post for another time), I am now in my third year at university with no better idea of what I want to do. Except not teaching.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my current job. I like working with kids and I enjoy standing at the front, talking about different things. But I don’t want to go from school to university and then straight back to school. And a PGCE would mean another year at university, which I have no interest in. Also, the fact that everyone assumes I want to teach because I study a language has put me off somewhat. Why not assume I want to be a spy? Language skills, check. Being able to bluff your way through conversations without knowing anything, check. Ginger hair, check. I’m practically Black Widow already.

I’d like to work with words – English, German, Elvish, I don’t care. Every language has its own complexities and if I could spend my professional life grappling with that in any capacity, I would be a happy Kat. I guess the obvious place to start is publishing. Or translation. Or both. I mean, one of my favourite books (The Thirteen and a Half lives of Captain Blue Bear by Walter Moers) is German in origin.

Ah well, we shall see. For now, when people ask me what I want to do with my life I guess I’ll just have to go with the spy thing. Or singing Pussycat Dolls. One of the two.

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Of Children and Classes.

So Monday mainly involved lesson planning for tutoring. Having given the kids a test last week, which they aced, I don’t need to retrace introductions, family or descriptions. So I decided to move onto countries. It turns out I needed beolingus.de (a german dictionary site) at hand at all times while making work sheets, because I know none of the countries in German. I even forgot Spain. Which is Spanien. Ah well, it all worked out in the end.

Tuesday I had work as usual. In my first class, Vincent decided he wasn’t going to play ball, which led to me perfecting my “I don’t care who started it, I’m finishing it” voice. Ashley wanted to know if her name is English or American, and when I said it was an international name, she decided it was definitely American because of Ashley Tisdale. And then one of the other girls told me she has the exact same T-Shirt as me. I have the same T-shirt as an 8 year old. I’m not really sure how to react to that.

Of course, there was a Café meeting. Don’t really remember much about it, other than talking to Kim about Torchwood. And being shocked that someone I’ve spoken to once remembered my name.

Wednesday kicked off with me being asked to write an English poem on the board, which I did no problem. Fifteen minutes later I realised I’d written ‘Snowmann’ not ‘snowman’. In my defence the teacher didn’t notice that I’d capitalised the s and doubled the n.

In the next lesson I got to talk about my home town  and Birmingham again. I think the most interesting thing about that particular lesson is that whenever I write up ’26 000, 67 594, 1 085 400’ on the board and say that the 26 000 is the population of Ilmenau, and then ask what could the 67 594 mean, the kids always ask if that’s the population of England. I mean, I know we’re smaller than Germany, but come on.

I wasn’t with class 3/4c for lessons 3&4 because they had important German things to learn, so instead I was in two more English classes. Talked about breakfast some more. Got to go to classes I don’t often see. Was pretty chilled considering I found out on the day I was doing it.

And then finally, I’ve been saying for the past few weeks that the class I’m meant to be with last doesn’t have English then any more. As of this week I go to a different class. The kids love me. I mean, seriously, they were super excited to see me. This is a class I haven’t been in since October. Oh, it’s hard being a Foreign language assistant. (Note the sarcasm.)

Thursday, surprise, surprise, the kids had a maths test. So I sat there for 45 minutes looking ornamental. But then! In the second half, I got to do reading with the dyslexic boy, which was interesting. As I believe I have mentioned before, I do not know how to say every German word. Yet I’m trying to correct his pronunciation… But he did really well this week. So yeah.

Friday I talked about Birmingham to one of my regular classes and have persuaded them that it’s better than London, mainly because of Cadbury World. Some of them had heard of Aston Villa FC, which was surprising to me, but then again, I know nothing about football. My two football facts are 1. Wolverhampton Wanderers are also known as Wolves (I thought they were different teams for the longest time) and 2. Dortmund sometimes play in yellow (I know this because I thought they were Hufflepuff). Another thing I mentioned about Birmingham was its’ partner cities. These include Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig. Now, I don’t know for definite, but I’m pretty sure the reason there’s two German cities in the list is that Frankfurt was in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) and Leipzig was in the GDR (German Democratic Republic). I asked the kids why they thought there were two and got some interesting suggestions (and was also asked why anyone would partner with Leipzig). But it was the teacher who eventually suggested that it was because of the FRG and GDR. Guess the kids haven’t reached that bit in history yet.

My second lesson was technically cancelled, but I’d been told to go to one of the other English classes instead. So I did. But that teacher had no idea I was turning up, and was teaching about nature and animals (auf Deutsch) when I rocked up. She asked if I was there to do English, and I said yes, and she left me to it. I ended up asking the kids their names, their ages and where they’re from and then singing head, shoulders, knees and toes with them, before the teacher realised that I didn’t have anything else to do with them and came and rescued me. Basics, I’d been told she would be expecting me and she wasn’t. So it was a bit of a surprise for both of us.

My last lesson I mainly spent telling boys off for battering each other. And telling kids it didn’t matter who was the last in the line. Seriously, why is that so important to primary school kids? I remember it being important when I was little as well. Madness.

Friday night I went out to paint the town red. Well, I went out to hang out with people, maybe do some drinking and dancing. It turns out that the best wine is free wine, boys can say problematic things in Germany as well as England and I can’t dance to hip hop. And apparently my pronunciation of Scheiße is spot on. Must be all the times I hear the kids at school say it.

Saturday was spent alternating between tidying and watching tv. Seriously. That was my day. And very enjoyable it was too. Sunday involved helping with the tidying up operation after a brunch put on by the BC Café. I got to meet a couple of new people, practice speaking coherent German to attractive people (not my strong suit) and generally stress out about whether the reason I was failing at tasks was because my German wasn’t good enough or if the instructions I was given weren’t good enough. Turns out it was a little bit of both.

Sunday evening I hung out with Ausama and horrified him by the pronouncement that I don’t like olives. Think I reassured him by liking cake and wine. But there was a good ten minutes of discussion about why I don’t like olives.

And as my final note on the week, Therese’s been ill most of the week, as has her boyfriend, though happily they are now better. But our flat’s reputation as a plague house may have to continue for a while longer, as I think I’m getting ill. So if my weekly update for next week is essentially ‘I felt blah the whole week and didn’t really do much’ I apologise.

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Levelling Up.

On Tuesday I was asked how I thought my German was going, so I figured now would be a decent time to reevaluate my language skills. That and the fact that I have an hour and a half free at school with nowt to do. [Edit: This was written at school on Friday in my huge break. However, the computers at school have a vendetta against WordPress, hence the delayed blogggeration.]

Overall, I think it’s going well. My German’s definitely improved and I’m way more confident in it. Having eight year olds correcting you makes you want to improve quickly. I’m not sure how useful most of my new found vocabulary will be in an oral exam, but, despite that being the only way uni tests my speaking skills, learning a language isn’t about oral exams. It’s about being able to communicate with other people. And that I can now definitely do. It also helps that Kim insists I can speak fluent German and Jana thinks I speak good German. Nothing boosts your confidence like native speakers thinking you can effectively use their language.
 
People say that you know you’re on your year abroad when you start dreaming in your foreign language. I have to report I haven’t experienced that head spin yet. However, I have started saying things in German when I intended to say them in English. Also vice versa. This is very confusing, especially when I’m in class. I’ve also come away from conversations not being able to remember if they were conducted in German or English. This is a massive head spin. 
 
I think what I’m trying to say is I’m getting there. My grasp of the passive tense may not have improved, but my word order has. I can use prepositions without hesitating for half an hour in the middle of the sentence, because the Germans don’t know what prepositions you’re meant to be using either. Essentially the year abroad is improving my language because in real life people don’t sit there picking out your every mistake. There’s no mark in real life either. Isn’t that glorious?