Back in 2001, I met my now German husband and we began what was to be a six-year long distance relationship – me based in Belfast and my husband in Bavaria, Germany.
At this time my husband’s English was pretty good, while my German was non-existent, so English became our language of communication. There were quite a few misunderstandings due to language and culture. After being late for our first ‘real’ date, I soon discovered that Bavarians' tell the time slightly differently than we Brits! At the time we laughed at such ‘mishaps’ and didn't give them much thought.
Until 2007, when I moved to Germany. In retrospect, I didn’t really prepare myself well for the change in both language and culture. I had done a few German language courses back in Belfast and started to retrain as a language trainer leaving my job as a police officer behind.
On arriving in Germany, I immediately started working at vocational colleges and in various companies teaching both Business and General English. I loved the work but struggled to improve my German. On one occasion while sitting around the table with my ‘German’ family, I thought I was learning the wrong language – they spoke too quickly, their accent and use of ‘localised’ words made it all so difficult. I often felt frustrated and annoyed with myself that I couldn’t keep up with the conversation. I attempted lots of courses, but none really helped. The levels and individual needs were too different, groups were too big or progress was slow as we plodded through the course book on topics that were of little relevance to me.
Over the years, I have gained a variety of training qualifications in Business English, online training, intercultural training as well as language and life coaching. My own development has been and continues to be really important ensuring that the service I deliver is both professional and up-to-date.
But it has been my own language and intercultural journey that has had the greatest impact on my language training. I have first hand experience of the difficulties and challenges of learning a new language. I appreciate the value of listening to your needs, using activities that work for you and offering support throughout your journey.
PS. My own language learning journey continues........