I am not a quitter, yet I will be quitting German Language School as soon as my current course finishes in two weeks. I am rather surprised at myself. Where did all my enthusiasm go to learn German that I had when I first moved here? What about my plan to finish two more levels of intensive German? What about my plan to be fluent in German within a year? All gone, I don’t know where it all went, but it’s been long gone.
Don’t get me wrong, I still plan to learn German and I still have the goal of becoming fluent sooner rather than later (no I’m not quitting early because I’m so naturally gifted in languages and became fluent in German so quickly 🙂 but it just won’t be along the nicely laid path that I had laid out almost a year ago. Strangely enough, I’m not learning as much German as I should be in German Language School. This time this is not the fault of the school, (see What I Learned from Choosing the Wrong Foreign Language School) and the blame lies entirely with me. Although I go to class, I am a bum in a seat, counting down how long until the next break. I don’t remember the last time I sat down to memorize a vocabulary list and most days I rush through my German homework while in physiotherapy for my knee an hour before class starts. I realize this is not the way to learn German – although speaking to the physiotherapist in German has been very helpful and I’ve developed a good German vocabulary around knee ailments.
My motivation has come and went after five hours a day, five days a week for the painstakingly long last eight months. When I first arrived, I would ask expats how much German they had taken. Most had only taken a course, but a few had taken six months of intensive German classes and then quit. I didn’t understand it, if you were going to live here, shouldn’t you take all the German classes that were offered to the highest level?
Now I get it. Learning a language with the goal of becoming fluent is hard. Learning German is the hardest thing I’ve ever done academically wise, far harder than any university course I’ve ever taken, far harder than completing my Master’s degree while working insane hours at a full time job.
I am burnt out from trying to learn German combined with running my blog, teaching an online course, planning a wedding and recovering from knee surgery. I have realized that my efforts to continue to learn German in an intensive German course have been fruitless. I will continue to learn German and am currently exploring different ways of doing so, some conventional, some not so conventional (stay tuned), but yes they will be fun( see 5 Fun Ways to Learn a Language.) But in the meantime, I am relieved to have arrived at the decision to quit German Language School. Yes I am a quitter – and I’m OK with that.
Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their hiking, cycling and wildlife vacations in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Germany. You can find her in the mountains on most weekends.