A Fork in the Road

rent dueAfter six months in Berlin solving math problems, dancing in underground techno clubs, and learning German, I’m back in New York City. I’ve been here a couple of months now, and at first I took a real break from learning the language. No German classes, no talking to bartenders at German beer halls, no Rosetta Stone, and no eavesdropping on German conversations on the subway.

But, I met a friend last week who happens to be half German. We spoke German for about seven minutes until she couldn’t bear my slowness anymore. That conversation reminded me of Berlin and the daily work I’d put in to understand and be understood. I missed it. I also realized I was at a crossroads. I could easily not speak another word of German in the foreseeable future, and the language would slowly settle to the bottom of my brain like the wreck of an old ship. Or, I could make a new effort to find ways to speak German in New York, to visit Germany, and to study—and my small bit of German could eventually grow.

The second path sounds better, of course, but how can I get myself to do those things? I can think of a few small steps in the right direction: (1) When I have the choice of a sports bar or a German beer hall, pick the second. (2) Add a bunch of German films to my movie-rental queue. (3) Meet some more Germans in New York and make the effort to speak with them. These are all fun things I hope will give me renewed motivation to study the language.

A question to other Rosetta Stone learners: What are your tips for getting back to learning your language once your initial impetus is gone?

Learn more about Will Perkins’s adventures in language learning.

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