Just Because I Now Can
I’m going to write this post like a diary entry. Kind of. I was planning on writing a little bit each day of this week and then putting all the sections together today for a post about my first week at IGS Roderbruch, but that plan failed miserably when I wrote an essay and a half for just my first day.
I will, however, have a go at writing as little as possible about Tuesday to Friday, whilst still making it fun and interesting (or however you would describe this blog).
If you haven’t done so already, head to the previous post to read about Monday. If you want to, anyway.
Day 2: Tuesday 11th September
Tuesday started with another lesson with the 4th class I had on Monday. Again, my aim was to speak only English/’not be able to speak German’
for the first class, which proved difficult, but not so much as on Monday with me now knowing the kids know full well I was just taking the mick and I could actually understand every word being said, and could answer back in German, too, if need be.
One child got a little annoyed that everything was in English, and actually came right up to me when I was sat down, pushed his hands down on my legs and put his face right in front of mine and murmured ‘Können wir jetzt auf Deutsch?’ (‘Can we speak German now?’) in, what could possibly be described as, an Omen voice. I replied, in German, to tell him to sit down and get on with his work and we can speak German properly after the English class, and as if I’d offered him sweets or something he immediately sat down and got on with his work. Maybe I’m scarier than I think I am..?
I also showed the 4th class my English money. They were absolutely amazed. They asked who the man on the £10 note is. I said it was Charles Darwin, and almost immediately after I realised there was no chance I could explain who he was in German, nor in basic enough English for them to understand, so I quickly changed the subject to the Queen.
When I left the 4th class, the kids asked when I was next going to be in their class, so I told them Monday, which resulted in pretty much every one of them (in a kind of domino effect because when one did it all of them wanted to do it) running up to me and holding up both their hands for high-fives. My hands were really sore afterwards!
I also sat in on a 9th class English lesson (or at least I think it was 9th class… this week suddenly seems a massive blur!) which was good fun. I’ve generally found that most students are absolutely fascinated by me, as if I’m the only English person left on the Earth. Often, I’ll be sat in class, and the students will, one by one, quickly look at me, as if to check I’m still there/I do actually exist. And everytime, yes, I did exist, and I was still sat there.
Tuesday night was good fun. After exhausting myself playing badminton with Lisa and a couple of her friends, we headed to an Erasmus evening at the University where I met lots of new people, including two English and one Irish! I also practiced my French a little with a French guy. He laughed at how I pronounced everything.
Day 3: Wednesday 12th September
Wednesday saw me sitting in my first maths class in the 8th class which was so much fun. There was a girl doing a work placement in the class too, and we were put with two of the students to play this game which helped them with positive and negative numbers. I won both times, and the two students didn’t make that a challenge – you basically had to put a counter on one corner of a triangle (there were loads of triangles connected on the board) and whoever placed the third counter of a triangle down got the points in the triangle, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. The students couldn’t seem to work out that if they put the second counter on a triangle with a massive positive number then, yes, I will put down the third counter and rake in the points. I couldn’t bring myself to act stupid and let them win, either, because at the start of the class the class actually laughed at my German accent, so I felt I needed revenge.
I helped with two 8th class English classes which was also good fun. The topic was New York. It was sometimes hard not to laugh at the students who were really struggling with some of the awkward English sounds, but please do note that they were laughing too – it wasn’t just me sat at the back of the class laughing evilly at the poor 13 year old struggling to pronounce their ‘th’s and ‘w’s!
Day 4: Thursday 13th September
Yet another maths class on Thursday, this time 13th class – 18 and 19 year olds. They were brilliant. I hadn’t met the teacher before I went to the lesson, but he was expecting me, and straight away he started speaking English to tell me to take a seat and stuff, and then asked me in English to introduce myself, so I replied ‘Also… Ich kann’s auf Deutsch…’ (‘So… I can do it in German…’) which made the whole room of sixth form kids cheer!
After a trip home and back due to a long break between, I headed to my last class of the day which was 8th class English. These were also fantastic! I was actually paired up with one of the students due to their being an odd number of them for a partner activity, and he was great. I was honestly so surprised how good his English was, yet he seemed really embarrassed and kept saying that he knows his English isn’t very good. I then went outside the class and pretended to be the tourist information point (they were translating a dialogue) which was so repetitive, yet great fun.
I’ve realised also that I need to really try and speak clearly, but sometimes that isn’t even good enough. Being a Yorkshire lad, I pronounce things in a Yorkshire accent, such as ‘coke’ not being ‘cohke’, more ‘cooooooke’ (I hope those of you who know me read that last one out exactly like I say it). Words like that I can get around and just round my ‘o’s more, but then came a problem yesterday which really worried me – In German, you would literally say ‘I would like to make a boat tour’. Obviously, in English, you’d say ‘take’ or ‘have’, yet the German students who were translating said ‘make’. When I corrected them, I said you could say ‘take’ which they all nodded at as if to say they understood, and then I said you can also say ‘have’. I had blank faces staring at me. I got really confused, wondering why these 12/13 year old students don’t know one of, if not, the most common verb in English. I then realised it might be my accent, so instead of saying it like ‘hav’, I said ‘haeve’, which they all then reacted to in a ‘Oh, that’s what you meant’.
Some work definitely needs to be done here.
In the evening, I went to the pub quiz at the Dublin Inn, with Lisa and her friends, as well as Rosie, David and Millie, who are all English language assistants in Niedersachsen (Rosie and Millie pretty much in Hannover, and David in Oldenburg). Though we didn’t win, it was good fun to get to know more people, as well as find Lisa a new name – she booked over the phone under her name, Lisa Jensen, and when we got to the table, it said it was reserved for ‘Sisa Winzen’ (I kid you not). It made a good team name, though the drunken Irish man holding the quiz didn’t quite get the joke and couldn’t pronounce it right.
Day 5: Friday 14th September
This was today, and saw me attend just two French classes so I could work out what level I’m at. I sat in a 6th and in a 12th class. Basically, what they learnt in the 6th class was very easy for me, yet the teacher, Denise, spoke mostly entirely in French, which I found hard to understand sometimes, and it didn’t help either that when she had to explain stuff, it was obviously in German. Still not my mother tongue. But it was still good fun. Then in the 12th class, I managed to get my head around Denise speaking French, but couldn’t understand the task set. So I’ve just asked Denise if I can sit in the 12th class every week and simply listen in and read and stuff, which she happily agreed to.
In the 12th class, my German accent was also laughed at, but this time more in a ‘oh you sound so cool!’ laugh, thankfully. I also randomly ended up having a chat about Henry VIII and his six wives. You really do not know what to expect sometimes at IGS Roderbruch, but it makes everything so much more fun and exciting, and I guess it’s the same as any school, too!
I have also become some kind of celebrity. Though the school has around 2000 students, lots of them have now started saying ‘hallo!’ to me outside of class; even those I’ve never seen before. Yesterday, this random kid said ‘Hi, Dan!’ (which was the first encounter of someone I don’t know knowing who I am which worried me a little), and today a bunch of girls said ‘hallo’ and after I’d walked past, I heard them whisper to each other than I was the ‘Engländer’. It’s quite nice though and makes the place feel a lot more homely, if that’s the correct word to use about a school!
So that’s my first week done and dusted at IGS Roderbruch. It was so much fun, and now I have a set timetable up until the autumn holidays which is the end of October, after which I will have a new timetable – this was Ilka’s idea, so I get to see a lot of classes, and means I will have four different timetables altogether throughout the year.
This week, I also translated something from German into English for an art teacher who’s holding a project exhibition thing in Kassel tomorrow. I sent him the finished piece on Wednesday, and he actually came to see me today to show me what he’d done with the translation, and it all looks really trendy and makes me feel a lot better about stressing over the translation when some German words wouldn’t show up anywhere on the internet! He also invited me to Kassel tomorrow to the project, but I had to turn him down due to a trip to a certain special place – THE ZOO! I am very excited about my second trip to the Zoo, and this time I’m buying a year ticket so I can go whenever I want for the next 365 days (it’s open all year round, but maybe not on special days like Christmas).
I now finally have my BahnCard, too. Though I did have the paper version you get whilst you wait on your card, I’m now a little closer to being German with my own card version. To add to the Germanness, I also have my bank stuff complete with Sparkasse, including card and online banking, and am currently waiting on a transfer from my English account to my German account, which should hopefully get in tomorrow, and then I might go find something random in a shop and buy it with my card. Or maybe buy lots of stuff from the zoo. Just because I now can.