Imagine this: one day you’re on a European cycling tour. While in Germany, you try to order a kebab but don’t manage because of the language barrier, and next thing you know, you’re two years into learning German because you just can’t let go of that missed opportunity. This is probably not how most of us begin our language-learning journeys but this is definitely what happened with Chatterbug student Shannon. And now, with two years of studying and a B1 certificate under her belt, not only can she easily order at an Imbiss, she’ll also watch the German news and tell you what all of that political talk was really about!
Why are you learning German?
My reasons for learning German seem to be morphing. To begin with, I’m passionate about learning languages in order to communicate. I am a French and Spanish teacher- German is my fourth language. I was initially motivated through an experience at a Dönerstand in Germany. My husband and I had spent a few weeks of a European cycling tour in Germany. Neither of us spoke German and not being able to order what I wanted was the most frustrating experience (the flatbread looked so good and I never got any!). As I have advanced I realize that I am interested in teaching German. I’ve also discovered that more great-grandparents than I had previously realized were from Germany. For example, my great-great grandfather came over from Germany in 1850 and fought with the north in the Civil War. I’m pretty proud of that!
How long have you been using Chatterbug and what was your level when you joined?
I joined Chatterbug in October of 2017. I was chipping away at A1 at the time. I’m currently working through B1 and very much enjoying the process, especially as I can see the growth in my ability to express more complex ideas.
What was your proudest German-speaking moment to date?
I always feel proud when I invent (or think I have invented) a new German compound word. It’s so much fun to create with language!
We think making mistakes is a great way to learn, so have you made any funny or memorable mistakes since you began studying with Chatterbug?
I have made too many mistakes for my tutors to be able to correct them all! 😊 I appreciate my tutors’ ability to pick out only the ones that most need correcting, because otherwise we couldn’t talk so much about interesting things. My most memorable mistakes are the ones I make over and over and over again, for example, I repeatedly mix up “seit” and “von”. However, it’s fun to see those mistakes slowly start to fade out as I improve.
What’s your favorite part about the platform?
I love the live lessons! I think using a new language to interact with native speakers is one of the best ways to further develop one’s understanding of that language. The tutors work at being understandable and are always willing to answer questions. After awhile my tutors and I start to get to know each other a little, and it is really interesting to continue conversations from previous sessions. Even when I have a lesson with a different tutor sometimes we get so interested in a topic that we never get to the exercises at all!
Is there anything you’d change?
Besides interactions with native speakers, I think reading as many interesting texts as one can find is a great way to acquire a language. I would love to see Chatterbug expand the quantity of readings that are made available to students.
About your experience with tutors, is it difficult to start speaking German with someone you just met online?
Not at all! Chatterbug is definitely a safe space. I think this is an advantage of studying on a platform where students are paying for lessons and tutors are being paid- we all know what to expect and are taking it seriously. The tutors are friendly and helpful.
Would you recommend Chatterbug to a friend?
I would (and regularly do) recommend Chatterbug to friends! It is a great way to connect with native speakers who are willing to be patient and interact with their students on their level.
And finally, do you have any Netflix recommendations for our students trying to learn German?
I don’t have any Netflix recommendations but instead, I have a great list of TV shows available on Youtube:
- 90’ Austrian classic Komissar Rex, created by Peter Hajek and Peter Mosek (Österreichischer Rundfunk)
- The Austrian version of the sports entertainment TV show, Ninja Warriors (PULS 4)
- And of course, ARD’s Tagesschau or any other German new broadcast to stay informed while learning.
And for the readers among you, I recommend Grimms’ Fairy Tales (Grimms Märchen) by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm; the young adult novel Ilse Janda, 14, oder, Die Ilse ist weg by Christine Nötlinger; and the comic strip Nick Knatterton by Manfred Schmidt.