Hallo! Ich bin Heather. Ich komme aus den USA, und ich wohne in Deutschland. Ich bin verheiratet ohne Kinder. (Hello! I am Heather. I come from the USA, and I live in Germany. I am married with no children.)
I spent July going to an intensive German course in order to acquire some basic German vocabulary. The first couple of days we practiced introducing ourselves. Without having studied German before, it felt really overwhelming! I stumbled my way through, but during the following weeks, I found myself slowly improving.
Now that the course is done I’m not ready to have conversations in German, but I can at least say and understand basic things which is so much better than nothing at all.
In the meantime, Jeff has been focusing on getting everything having to do with our car in order, and he’s working on setting up our local banking. In between, he’s been doing some German learning on CDs.
This is the first time we’re living in a country where English is not a national language. In Kenya and South Africa, English was one of the national languages, so it was easy to get by without knowing one of the local languages. In Africa around 15+ countries have English as either a national language or a widely-used business language. (* Note: In these countries, English is typically not widely spoken outside of major cities, but it is often used in official documents, on road signs, in TV and radio programming, and on food labels.)
English usage in Europe
But, in Europe, things are a bit different. Not only is English not a national language in Germany, it’s only a national language in 3 European countries (the UK, Ireland and Malta). While it is spoken widely across the continent, often it’s not in common usage on signs or official paperwork.
Here in Germany everything is in German – every government document, all of our banking paperwork, food labels, road signs – everything! Many German people know some English, which is really helpful for us, but there is little need for English usage outside of touristy areas.
I’ve been able to practice my German vocabulary often when we go shopping or when we visit government offices. I’m still not able to understand very much, but I’m glad to have some basics.