Failing with Language Classes

I have been struggling with learning German for years in spite of lots of classes both in Washington, DC, as well as in Berlin, Germany, a city I moved to over Halloween 2007 through Christmas 2008. While I know a lot about the German language I still don’t feel comfortable as a German speaker.

On this blog I will share what I have learned about learning German and what I find works for me. As I move forward over the next several months, I hope to get you as excited as I am about learning German.

My best friend Mark lives in Berlin.  He has been fluent in German since he was 17. While he maintains an entire life speaking German in Berlin, I had never really been interested in participating, it just seemed too difficult. However, the moment Mark and I started a business together, that all changed.  I decided to move to Berlin so that we could spend more time working together on our fledgling company.  So, before leaving my Washington, DC apartment behind I signed up for a German course at a language school.

workbook1I ended up taking two courses and spent a happy three hours there every Saturday for eighteen weeks. I didn’t learn much German at all. One of the problems was that all the students spoke English, so speaking German was not necessary.  Another problem was that I never completed the assigned workbook and CD homework for the week. I blamed it on my crushing work load as an entrepreneur but the truth is that I didn’t enjoy sharpening pencils and pressing them into newsprint workbooks.  I always found better things to do. It turned into a downward spiral – I never came prepared for my class because I didn’t enjoy the learning style, so I slowly began to become less and less motivated with getting up and schlepping myself downtown every Saturday morning. Unprepared and full of anxiety and trepidation I headed off to Berlin.

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Chris Abraham

Thousands of people around the world know exactly what Chris Abraham had for lunch yesterday. With 13,000 followers on Twitter, posts on Digital Next blog and, and two popular blogs of his own, Chris has a wide audience and is generally considered an interesting guy. However, his content is far from the despised what-I-had-for-lunch posts, as Chris frequently imparts his knowledge of social media, salivates over expensive cars, and documents his adventures as an American living in Berlin, Germany. In between his trips across the Atlantic to and from his homes in Washington, D.C. and Berlin, Chris runs a social media marketing agency called Abraham Harrison LLC [AHLLC] with his business partner, Mark Harrison. AHLLC has 35 employees from 12 countries. The diversity of culture and language makes staff meetings less like, well staff meetings, and more like a UN summit. Many employees could conduct meetings in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, or German, or a combination of all five at once. Not wanting to be one-upped by his staff (again), Chris is remedying his lingual shortcomings by learning German with Rosetta Stone. He also would like to impress his friends in Berlin with fluent, witty, dinner party conversation in German. Rosetta Stone has commissioned Chris to share his German language learning journey and his experience with TOTALe on this blog. Chris’s insights on social media marketing, the BMW, and Berlin dinner parties can be found at and Chris can also be found on Twitter ( and Facebook (
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