Learning German – Round 2

I arrived in Berlin, terrified of sounding like a toddler and a moron while trying to speak German.  So, I just didn’t — I spoke English.  After a while in Berlin, I signed up for another language course, again starting at the beginning. This time it was serious: three hours a day, five days a week, for four months.

I was pretty religious with attendance and the course was completely immersive based on necessity, not just as a learning strategy — English was not the lingua franca of this school.  I had classmates who were from Iran, Yemen, Turkey, China, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Brazil.

oldfashionedclassesfocusongrammarAgain, my story was a sob story. The moment I left class, I didn’t prioritize the hours of homework, the mandated flash cards, the rote memorization of verb conjugations and noun gender — I had a business to run and I had a social life — with Berliners who were happy to practice their flawless English.

Eventually, I realized I had been fetishing German learning more than I have been trying to learn German.  After three years of German language grazing, I have half-a-dozen German-English dictionaries, another four packs of German vocabulary flash cards, and an assortment of German workbooks, verb books, grammar books and the whole lot.  It was almost like I got confused — I was collecting German instead of learning German — like buying classical CDs instead of learning how to play the viola.

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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 SocialMedia.biz, 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 www.marketingconversation.com and chrisabraham.com. Chris can also be found on Twitter (www.twitter.com/chrisabraham) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/chrisabraham).
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