To date, I’ve been studying German for a total of ten long months, seven of which under the instruction of full-blooded German teachers. The world stereotypes Germans as strict, serious, and humorless. From experience, my strict German language teachers demand organization in the classroom, tolerates no bullshit, pays great attention to punctuality, and expects that the students already know everything because they themselves know everything.
Okay, that last one is a bit exaggerated but you get the idea.
Strict German language teachers are not very popular among Filipino learners as these two nationalities stand entirely opposite each other. While Germans are direct, Filipinos go on circles when trying to explain something. Germans are also seemingly emotionless while Filipinos are the exact opposite. It’s certainly wrong to generalize these characteristics; but I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who thinks likewise.
Having such teachers though, influenced me in so many ways.
Thank God for my strict German language teachers, because…
I’ve learned to accept cultural differences
Moving to another country entails more than learning the language. I definitely believe that being able to adapt with the new set of people is far more important. Sharing one classroom with such teachers taught me that yes, Germans are strict but within reason, they are serious but at the same time have a soft spot; and that they appreciate and laugh at jokes: not humorless at all.
Whenever I throw in jokes in class and they laugh at them, it feels like I’ve just been granted my visa all over again, LOL.
I learned to ask
The strong personality of Germans makes most Filipinos uncomfortable and reluctant to speak up. I slowly learned the importance of politely interrupting to ask questions and clarifications when things aren’t too clear. The language is unbelievable difficult and sometimes absurd with grammar rules that don’t make sense at all so it wouldn’t really hurt to ask. Plus, I haven’t heard of anybody dying because of asking in class, mind you.
It’s too easy to complain how this one teacher doesn’t teach grammar or does not thoroughly explain lectures (while another one spoon-feeds and provides too much help or information that the students don’t need to think for themselves). But these guys are humans too: they don’t have supernatural powers to read minds. Their job is to teach; they wouldn’t know that we don’t understand until we tell them.
When I finally arrived here in Germany, I get commendations from my head nurse and my colleagues just because I asked. At first I couldn’t understand what was special about it. But later on, I learned that Germans appreciate good questions: because it shows that you are really interested to learn.
I come to school prepared
As mentioned, Germans speaks in a direct manner and they would really shame the hell out of you if you couldn’t answer correctly. Okay, this one’s a bit exaggerated but true or not, it certainly feels that way.
I had this crazy first day of school wherein we were asked to explain the circulatory system in German! I mean, I couldn’t even explain that fluently in English. Plus it was our first day! #nomercy
You probably know what happened as I’m too embarrassed to write anything about it, LOL.
That day I will never forget and I swear I’ll never allow such a bad thing happen again.
As I am born naturally competitive, I make sure to come to class prepared, grammar and medical-wise. I do this because I never want to be embarrassed in front of everybody. I may not have everything memorized, but I somehow feel more confident knowing that I have something to answer.
If you are reading this and trying to learn German just like me, don’t request a strict teacher from your school in a snap, LOL. In all honesty, the type of teacher isn’t much important. And I speak for every aspect of learning: not just language. I definitely believe that learning is a two way process. If you want to learn something, or if you don’t want to learn something, even the best teacher in the world couldn’t help you.
Here in Germany, we say ‘Der Lehrer ist egal’.
But still, thank you my strict German language teachers. My exposure to them did wonders to my personality and prepared me well for the ‘real life’ in Germany. Because of them, I was more confident and I didn’t find it too intimidating to communicate with doctors, patients, and my colleagues even though my German isn’t that good yet. These learnings went beyond grammar and in my opinion, many times more important than one paper saying I speak German.
P.S. This blog post goes to my strict German language teachers, Sir Guenther Wilke and Dr. Donar Rau in celebration of World Teachers Day 2018. I know that the job isn’t easy, and I hope it makes you feel better knowing that someone appreciates. Continue what you are doing; I really couldn’t pinpoint what was good about it, but it’s damn effective. One day my Deutsch will be super and you’ll be proud of me. Vielen Dank!