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Jahresvorsatz: ENGLISCHVERBOT.

December 27, 2009

I love languages and language learning. I love reading about language learning. I love sitting at my desk and reviewing vocabulary. I love taking language courses and meeting people who are also learning languages. I am going to study a language degree and will hopefully end up in a language related profession, be it teaching or translating. My boyfriend speaks three languages and I live in a foreign country. I have the opportunity of a lifetime here and I waste so much of it by simply speaking too much English. I am improving all the time by speaking more and more German in more and more situations but I could be doing much better. Therefore I have decided that my biggest and most important New Year’s resolution will be to stop speaking English.

I have figured out the main reason why I have a hard time speaking German in social situations. I first came to Austria nearly three years ago to be with my boyfriend who could speak English extremely well, my German was limited to Auf Wiedersehen and Danke schön. We had spent years talking in English prior to me coming to Austria. When I met all of his friends we spoke English together. I even spoke English to his parents who can’t even speak English! Everyone had gotten so used to speaking English with me that it is now a very hard habit to break. It is extremely nice of them to speak English with me, because of course it makes it easier for me to participate in conversations, and I really appreciate their effort, but I’m going to have to start telling everyone that they’d be doing me even more of a favour to strictly speak only German with me!

I have met two other people who live in Austria who are in situations similar to mine. A guy from England with an Austrian fiancée, and a girl from England with an Austrian boyfriend. The guy speaks nearly only English to his fiancée and has from the beginning of their relationship because he couldn’t speak German when they met but he can now. The girl from England speaks nearly only German with her boyfriend, and has done so from the beginning. Years of speaking English with your foreign friends or boyfriend is a hard habit to break! The guy from England said that it feels weird to speak German with his fiancée, while the girl from England says it feels weird to speak English with her boyfriend!

I am lucky to have a boyfriend who is very supportive and willing to speak German with me, even if it feels a little awkward and frustrating for me because I can’t always express myself fully, but I have to realize that everyone who speaks a foreign language to a near-fluent level has pushed through this phase! Whenever I manage to keep up a conversation in German for a few minutes, it’s a great feeling. I can honestly say it gives me a rush! Unfortunately it is usually me who gets worn out and switches back to English, but I’m going to push through this time.

For anyone who has the same fear of speaking a foreign language, here are some resources to help:

– Benny the Irish polyglot’s great post on not speaking English abroad (this one inspired me the most!)
– An open thread on how-to-learn-any-language.com on the fear of speaking in front of others.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2009 4:32 pm

    You have to break down and start talking in that language. I had the same problem. A good way to eliminate fear of speaking in a foreign language is speaking and reading aloud.

  2. December 30, 2009 2:57 am

    Great post, I have the same problem and I’m also hoping to drastically reduce the English I speak next year.

    Btw – on your blog roll, my link is http://www.babystepstofluency.com... the /blog doesn’t look anymore.😉

  3. Detlef Moeller permalink
    December 28, 2010 9:03 pm

    Hallo

    Ein Jahr später u du wirst jetzt bestimmt schon ganz toll Deutsch sprechen können …trotzdem, besuche http://www.n-tv.de/ und im nu bist du Weltmeister!
    Ciao
    Detlef

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