Last Tuesday I went to meet a bunch of Germans at a local bar near my workplace. It was a German “meetup” organized through Meetup.com. They get every week or two at a bar or restaurant, and sometimes they do other things like going to see a movie (if it’s in German).
Up until now, my studies have mainly focused on absorbing content, such as books and tv. I’ve barely done any speaking, mostly because I was nervous about how much I’d understand. After finally deciding it was time to practice speaking, and going out to chat with some Germans, I was pleasantly surprised in two ways.
The first was that I was able to hang out in a bar having a beer with a bunch of Germans and I was able to understand everything they said. This was very encouraging for me, especially since I attempted to do the same thing about 10 years ago the last time I was in Germany, and it was mostly a lesson in how little I knew at the time. I sort of expected it to be pretty easy this time, though, because I can so easily understand most of what’s said on the TV shows I watch, so I figured talking in the bar wouldn’t be much different (except for the extra distracting noise of the music and other conversations).
Secondly, I was surprised that my ability to read things out loud seems to be improved. I have a better sense of how a sentence is supposed to sound when I say it. Maybe I was paying much more attention to everything that was being said when it was important for me to get everything in order to respond properly. Something about that activity felt clearly more beneficial than just trying to understand TV and Radio. This is quite encouraging since it was such a short period of only a couple hours, so it’s encouraging me to go back again for more practice.
What I need to work on next time is my ability to just keep saying words, even if they’re perhaps not the perfect word that I was trying to think of. There are many many ways to say things, and I just need to work on having something sub-optimal flow out. I can work on refining things later.