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Valentine’s Spotlight: Max Learns German at Bridge

Can you first tell us about your background and whether learning a new language relates to your studies or work?

I am Colorado born and raised, I went to high school at Golden High School after which I did two years of pre-requisite coursework at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood. I am currently an undergraduate studying Mathematics and Materials science at Colorado School of Mines. Right now, my knowledge of German is not directly beneficial to my studies; however, when school is finished and I’m proficient, I expect that it will open up a variety of career opportunities in my field.

Tell us why you decided to study German, specifically.

To make a long story short, I met a wonderful au pair from Germany (we’ll call her Sabrina) about a year and a half ago and did what anyone in my shoes would do. I set out to teach myself German as quickly as possible in hopes of impressing her. So, a month turned into 3, which turned into 12. During that time (around the second week) I found out that learning German is hard! …That realization slowed my progress a bit, but I kept at it when I could. Also during that duration — I’d say around the 3rd week– I fell head-over-heels in love with Sabrina. At the end of the 12th month she was back in Germany with her family. Now, fast forward to present day. I’m enrolled in a German course to further my ability, and I’m planning on visiting Sabrina and her family come next summer.

…Now that I say it, it seems kind of, well… silly. But my thinking is: if wars were waged in the name of love, then is it all that terrible to pick up a new language for the same reason?

What would you say is your biggest challenge in learning a new language?

Gosh, this is a difficult one to answer… Uh, perhaps I can explain it like this…

When one starts learning math in school they start by adding, subtracting, multiplying etc. Then, as they go further they become more acquainted with these operations. The student becomes more fluent in the ways math can be used. However, if one continues their math adventure, there comes a point in which he/she realizes that the mathematical system at its core is just, kind of… made up. It’s simply a collection of cleverly devised rules. For instance, I could create my own system of math, call it Maxmatics, in which the “+” operation means take away, and the “-” operation means put together. The point here is that, even though in Maxmatics, the addition symbol and subtraction symbols are given different functions, one can still do everything they could do in the system they grew up on. That is, 1 + 1 still equals 2 in the Maxmatics system, it’s just said in a different way (1 – 1 = 2).

This is the same with languages, the goal is to communicate about things in the world. Germans communicate about same things Americans do, but the German system is just constructed differently. Thus, information is portrayed differently. So all one needs to do is keep the information the same when moving between systems, but that’s the most difficult part for me. It also doesn’t help that there are sounds in German that just plain don’t exist in English… (I’m looking at you, “tz” sound).

What do you consider the biggest advantage?

In my opinion, the biggest advantage to learning a language comes in the form of all of the smaller advantages it affords. There are just so many! I suppose if I had to pick the top 3 advantages they would be as follows: 1) Learning a new language is a “full-body” work out for your brain. It keeps the mind strong and sharp. 2) Learning a language opens doors. Behind these doors are new pathways that were unknown before, so why not explore them? 3) It boosts self-confidence! …Admit it, it’s pretty cool to know at least one more language, especially in America.

What were the classes like at Bridge?

The atmosphere depends on which class one chooses to enroll in. Initially, I enrolled in a 1 on 1 class, but soon realized that I had some major gaps to fill — namely, speaking to other people, some grammatical basics, and things like the number system. Thus, to accommodate my needs, Bridge allowed me to enroll in a group class with 4 other people. The group class was really the way to go for me. Getting the chance to talk with other people in the class was well worth it. Oh! I almost forgot to mention that occasionally professors plan social outings to practice speaking! Read about Bridge Foreign Language Social Clubs here.)

What were some of your favorite activities in class?

My favorite activities are those in which people are talking with one another. This occurs quite frequently.

Will this be the year you take the first step toward learning a new language?
Browse all our language classes at Bridge in Denver! Or read more about BridgeLanguages students: Jannette: Spanish language student in Denver.

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