I went out for drinks last night, here in Munich. It was a nice neighbourhood sort of pub/restaurant, slightly outside of the downtown area. As a spoken and listening exercise, it was quite fun.
One thing that I found was that the words I missed most while speaking, were considered rather simple. I need a lot more practice at regular everyday expressions. Having to use them is helping me a lot, although I still have to ask a lot of questions.
Generally, I’m finding conversations quite easy. The Germans I’ve talked to usually like to throw in a bit of English, but I’m ok with that. I usually use that as an opportunity to throw in English words of my own, and then immediately ask how to say them in German. It makes me comfortable to know that I can always get my point across through the use of multiple languages if necessary, and that comfort leads me to start and continue more conversations.
It really bothers me when I have to talk about really simplified things in a conversation, because the interest just dies and we run out of things to say. Part of this problem is solved by explaining to the Germans that I really do have a decent listening ability, even if my speaking hasn’t caught up. I encourage them to talk more, and to try to guess at what I’m saying. But by peppering in a few English terms with a questioning tone (to ask for the German version), I can advance the conversation quite a lot and learn some new words.
I need to get better at starting conversations, however. In the past, I haven’t really been one to start up random conversations in coffee shops, but now it’s becoming more of a necessity if I want to talk to people. I have to change the way I would normally act, and become someone different in order to achieve my goals. I’ll probably never see these people again anyway, so it won’t be a big deal if I “disturb” their coffee drinking with a little attempt at conversation.
If I don’t feel like conversing, I can always just retreat to my book. It’s something I really want to read, so it’s easy to get lost in it for hours. Perhaps it’s a bit more antisocial, but at least I’m still learning 🙂