Saturday, December 17, 2016

German Language training Part III

Structured Learning
It's been about 12 weeks.  We have switched teachers three times.  We had our first assessment - a miniature/friendlier version of the Final Exam.  It happened to occur during my nadir of confidence and performance. I still did OK.  I have learned a lot about myself as a learner - stuff that might have been useful in my 20 previous years of learning stuff in a structured environment (school, university, graduate school).

My German is painfully slow and riddled with false starts and errors.  But it is 12 mere weeks of knowledge and I am unabashedly proud of myself. And I still have 2/3 of the course to go!

Last week most of us got all switched up - classes broken up and scattered to the wind - so not only are we all adjusting to a new teacher but also to new classmates.  I think we are getting into a groove, though, and am looking forward to more Deutsch lernen.

Outside of Class Learning
Our fabulous au pair is introducing us to aspects of German culture. One of which is the importance of Saint Nicholas Day - December 6 - where she gave the kids fabulous monogrammed stockings with little treats inside them. And she bakes cookies. Which we shared with our classmates (yes, we properly attributed her).

Also, we went to the Christmas Market held at the German School in Potomac a couple of weekends ago.  The lines for gluhwein and crepes were way too long but Terry managed to snag himself some sausage and the kids got cotton candy. We didn't use a ton of German but could hear it spoken all around us (as well as, to be honest, a bunch of Russian). The kids decorated and then ate cookies, and they got to play at the school's playground to burn off steam.

Our fabulous au pair also hand wrote these amazing little booklets for the kids with some simple "Hi my name is ... do you want to play with me" type phrases, basic vocabulary, and great drawings throughout. We got them bound at Staples and hope they will survive a couple of years of heavy use.

Wir haben viel SpaƟ! 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What I love about FSI

FSI is like a college campus on reunion weekend, every day.

Where else do you find so many adults with jeans and backpacks?  I'm guessing nowhere. Ditto for people talking about homework and tests in the hallway, or rushing to get to class on time or talk to the teacher.

At FSI we also often run into people from our past in the cafeteria (for some reason it mostly happens in the cafeteria). On Friday we had lunch with a friend from our first post, someone we haven't laid eyes upon in eight years, because I happened to walk past him.  He didn't know Terry and I were in the USA and we didn't know he was in training. It was his last day in town. This kind of thing happens all the time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The kids' first (and only) advent calendar!

Jelly Bean Count-Down to Christmas Advent Calendar
I waited a little long, so they only arrived today. But my kids are getting the thrill of opening up a little door each day and finding a treat inside.

What's going on?

This year, the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas eve!  And Jelly Belly makes an advent calendar and although the bean is driving a sleigh and wears a red and white hat, there's sufficiently little Christmas reference that I'm comfortable with this.

Because it arrived late, they start with the 6th now and they will go back and open the first five during nights 2-6 of Hanukkah.