Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Soldier - Free Friday - 09/06/2013

"The Soldier"- Alien in the Delta
 Free Friday One Day Only!

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I enrolled in college in the winter of 1962. I became a freshman on the US Air Force base in Germany, attending the University of Maryland extension campus. I started going to classes about two months after arriving at Ramstein. I took courses in history and English, getting my basic classes out of the way. One day while on a class break, a cleaning lady asked me what time it was in German. I didn’t understand what she was saying. Then she walked up to me, took my arm, and looked at my watch. She thanked me and left. What happened made me feel very uncomfortable and a little stupid. It was at that moment I made the decision to learn to speak German. After finishing my history and English classes, I started taking German classes. I begin with basic German and ended up taking five different courses, as well as spending a lot of my free time studying German. I took speech-lab classes, using headphones with microphones that allowed a German teacher to monitor me.

I tried different avenues to learn to speak the language. I listened to German radio stations, not understanding a single word. I asked the Germans whom I worked with in the motor pool to help me pronounce words and to speak to me only in German. The German people were always willing to help with the language. Speaking German to the women in the laundry, which was on the first floor of the building where we lived, was a daily occurrence.

After drinking beer or booze and getting a little tipsy, I would only speak German. Drinking helped me to get rid of the fear of making a mistake. So the secret to learning how to speak another language is to move to that country, stay at lease two years, drink whatever booze the local people drink, get a little tipsy and start talking.