New Year, New Beginnings...
It became evident, on that first day, that I was actually the only English person in a department full of native German speakers. This somewhat sobering thought both excited and worried me. It took me back to my first few days as a University undergraduate. Following a written test to determine new students’ German language capabilities, my marks in that test had led to me being placed in language classes traditionally set aside for German native speakers.
Back to the present day and, in the first few days of trying to get to grips with my new job, my thoughts often turned to Mickey Mangan. With his “Lernen to Talk Show”, he chronicled his quest to learn German in one year, not simply from textbooks, but by moving to the country and immersing himself in the German way of life.
Immersion as a Means of Language Learning
Immersion is something that many people feel assists language learning. I even read an article recently that explored the concept – and benefits – of bilingual schools in Germany.
Coming into this new role with a degree in French and German to my name, I already knew that I would be able to hold my own in general conversation. In that sense, at least, my situation is wildly different to Mangan’s. But the challenge he faced of suddenly being surrounded by German speakers struck a chord with me. I wondered, at first, if I would ever get to grips with the financial lingo which was being used around me on a daily basis. Looking back on my first four weeks in the role, however, I think that total immersion in a German-speaking community has really helped me to pick up the technical language I needed.
A New Way of Thinking?
Spending the working week communicating in a foreign language took a little adjustment at first. But before long I was thinking and speaking in German, rather than in English. I’ll admit that I’ve even caught myself texting my English friends in German on more than one occasion! But with each new day, switching between the two languages demands a little less effort and leaves me more able to focus on the job at hand - literally!