Skylar was a Beginner German student at BridgeLanguages in Denver. Here, she talks about some of her biggest challenges learning a new language and what she hopes to do with her growing knowledge of German.
Skylar, can you tell us about yourself? Where are you from and what is your background?
I’ve moved a lot in my life, so this first question is always a bit hard to answer. I lived in Denver for 10 years, I’ve lived on the East Coast, I’ve lived in Europe, and have traveled a lot. So, while I am an American, I relate more to the term “global citizen.”
What made you decide to study German?
I decided to learn it because my heritage is Swiss-German, and I’ve always been proud of that fact. It’s always been my desire to be fluent in another language, so I decided to stop procrastinating, and finally make it happen.
Does learning German relate to your studies or work?
Right now, I teach English to immigrants and refugees. I would love to work in Europe somewhere helping with the refugee crisis, so yes, German might come in handy in the future. But regardless, I just love languages, and I believe that as long as I follow my desires, I’ll find an international job that will combine my skills, languages, and personality in a great way.
What are your learning goals? What would you like to achieve?
Right now, my most tangible goal is to become an A2 level in German by next summer. I studied French for 3 years and only then was I at an A2 level, so I know that this is an ambitious goal. But having already studied another language, I know what I need to do to stay focused, and make the most of classes, books, the internet, movies, and finding German friends to practice with.
Describe the classroom environment.
Our classroom is ideal, as it isn’t a big class, so we’re all given time to talk, ask questions, and really understand what we’re learning that day. Our teacher, Serina, is using a really well laid-out book, which has great exercises that aren’t too complicated but still encourages learning. For the most part, everyone in the class is good about letting others have a chance to answer the question, and sometimes if we can’t figure it out, we all try to help each other out.
One of the biggest things I appreciate with Serina is how much she has used German from day one. She tries to explain an answer or vocabulary words in German, and that really helps us continue to familiarize our brains with German, rather than hearing everything in English.
A key point I am thankful for with Bridge is that they have classes twice a week, which helps to double the exposure of the new language.
What is your biggest challenge in learning a new language?
Pronunciation is always hard, as some of the sounds are completely different than we have in English. Even though I’m at a conversational level in French, there are still certain sounds that are difficult to master.
Grammar is always unique, as it changes from language to language. But I also like when I fully grasp a grammar concept, because you can really see your progress.
For you, what is the biggest advantage of learning a new language?
I find that the more languages you speak, the more doors open up, especially in the work world. I’m a big traveler, and sometimes you go to a country that doesn’t have a lot of English speakers, but they may know a different language that you do speak.
I remember one time being on a bus in Croatia, and there was a French couple that didn’t speak much English. The driver tried to tell them, in English, that their hotel was just two streets away, but they just couldn’t understand. Since I spoke both languages, I was able to help them find their hotel. They were extremely grateful, and it was really great for me to be able to help them.
If you would like to learn more about learning German with BridgeLanguages, check out this interview with Max, another student here at Bridge, who was studying German for a very different reason!