Because my workplace does a lot of international work, the main language spoken is English. While most of the employees in my workplace are more than competent in speaking German, being that it is a second language for many, it has become very apparent that English is the universal language.
While some of the other IIP Berliners can speak varying levels of German at their workplace, I only ever get the opportunity in small pockets of time. For some people, they prefer speaking their native language, which includes Russian, Georgian, Arabic, Spanish, and French in my workplace. The second language for most people is English with German being the third.
Therefore, it isn’t that easy for me to kill two birds with one stone, but I found a really nice place to improve my German language skills at a place called SprachSalon, which is a language center that teaches more than just the German language. The small school is located in the neighborhood of Neukölln which is on the eastern side of Berlin. It is around the same commute time from my workplace as it is from where I live, but it is easier to leave directly from work since my classes are at night, 1.5 hours two days a week.
I’ve had a blast learning German in a class of just four other people. The intimate space allows learning the language to be more fun, and individuality thrives. It’s been almost four months now since I’ve started the class, and I’ve made many improvements. Aside from having a super nice teacher, she also speaks mostly in German and explains concepts in German, which is super crucial when learning the language. Learning the English definitions and meaning doesn’t have the same effect as learning it all in German. When many young children begin learning languages, they aren’t given a translation. They are taught the word as is. I believe this is how languages should be learned. It’s not what the new language sounds like or is defined by another language. It’s how the language itself is able to explain concepts and ideas. Once we grasp the fundamentals, the complex terms will be easier to grasp.
Unfortunately, Wednesday was our teacher’s last day. My last two classes at SprachSalon will be taught by a new teacher; the other students will have her longer since they are staying in Berlin longer and have opted to participate in long-term programs.
After class, we decided to celebrate in a pub and we had a fun-filled night discussing our diversity and the languages we speak. I happened to be the youngest in the group, with the oldest being in their late 30s. We all came from different countries and came to Germany under our own reasons. We really bonded that night getting to learn from each other; it’s just extremely unfortunate that I only have two more classes left with them before I head back to the United States. Regardless, I’m sure we’ll all stay in contact with each other one way or another,