Der. Die. Das. Ein. Dein. Kein. Am. Auf. Zu. My head is spinning and it’s not even 9am. My coffee cup is already empty and I look longingly at my classmate’s half-eaten croissant across the room. Time is ticking by…oh. so. slowly.
“Wie war das Wochenende, Ali? Ali?”
I snap out of my croissant-eating daydream.
“Ahem. Das Wochenende war sehr schön; ich war mit Freunden ins Kino. Er, im Kino? Auf Kino? Am Kino?” I am not sure which.
It’s my fourth week of intensive German courses – four hours a day, five times a week …of feeling tongue-tied and foggy-minded. Even though I dread the many hours of being in the classroom, I have now happily progressed beyond, Guten Tag, Gesundheit, and das Auto.
My beginner A1 course has 12 students, including myself. It’s a great class – very international with only one other American. Also represented are students from Australia, Portugal, Brazil, Ukraine, China, Spain, Bangladesh, Jamaica and Thailand. It’s fun getting to know the other students and learning about each other’s cultures and stories – how they found their way to Zurich, what their plans are for the future.
Learning a new language is a long journey and I’m taking it one step at a time. What I find most challenging about German are the use of articles and prepositions. Knowing when to use der, die, das or auf, bis, in, am, zu, etc. Sentence structure is difficult too, especially in the negative form (i.e. a sentence like ‘I do not like going to the movies often’ translates into something like ‘I do not like to the movies often go’ in German.) Making it more challenging of course is that the Swiss have their own colloquial language called Swiss-German, which no one else can understand, not even the Germans. So, like I said…one day at a time!