Hi there / Hallo / Salve / Namaskar!
My name is Lydia and I am one of the Chatterbug veterans – recruited for beta testing in March 2017 as a German tutor. After trying out the platform, my first question for our CEO Scott was: “Can I keep teaching after we’re done with the testing phase… please?!” And yes, I am still here, marching towards my 2,000th lesson!
I am originally a neuroscientist and for my master’s thesis I studied language learning on a molecular level. Not on humans, though, but on birds! Did you know that song birds acquire their songs in a quite similar way that humans learn their (mother) language?
However, at the moment I am enjoying the in freelancer, working as a translator (and sometimes interpreter) most of my time. I work for clients all over the world and it’s really fun to see a product hit the market with my German texts on it.
Why I love being a Chatterbug tutor
To be able to help and actively support people is a really great feeling. It always makes me happy when students tell me about their achievements… may it be passing your German proficiency test, giving a presentation in German in front of your colleagues or finding the courage to talk to the shop assistant in German for the first time… success is success, none of them smaller than the other.
Languages I speak
German (native), English (fluent) and Latin (learned it for 7 years at school, forgot all of it). I have been learning Hindi & Urdu on and off for about 2 years now and I am currently trying to get into it again.
Why talking to natives is important (or One of my embarrassing language moments )
Saved for last, let me share my experiences learning another language: English – which was always my favourite subject in school. In fact, of all the students in my entire city, I performed best on our English A-level exam and I even won a medal for it! Yes, it’s a real thing and I don’t get to brag about it a lot…
But that didn’t help me when I spent my first internship abroad (in South Africa) with a bunch of English natives. My roomy was from Australia and the night she arrived she asked me: “Are you having a shower?”
My first answer was: “Yes, we have a shower in the bathroom.”
But strangely enough she shook her head and said: “No, are you HAVING a shower?”
I was confused. What a weird question. So I told her: “You mean at my home? Yes, I have a shower. ”
Now she started getting really loud: “No, I mean ARE YOU HAVING A SHOWER?”
Sooo, this went on for a while until I finally understood what she was asking me.
See, in school I learned it’s called “to take a shower” not “to have a shower”. Her first impression of me was probably that I am a bit slow in the head. (And with a combination of nervousness and lacking experience, I probably was at that moment.)
There are great things to learn from this story, though:
- theory ≠ practice
- natives don’t (necessarily) speak like you are taught in school/in books
- rephrasing is key
When students don’t understand me, I try to rephrase the sentence or use easier words, instead of just repeating things. Whenever I can, I explain the origins of certain words. It sometimes makes for a fun story and I am sure you will remember some words much easier.
(By the way, even birds learn their song better when taught by another “native” bird rather than audio/video recordings. )
Hope to see you soon in a lesson or talk to you in our community forum!