Lydia from Berlin, Germany

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 :de: 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 :woman_scientist: 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? :notes::bird:

However, at the moment I am enjoying the :free: 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. :dizzy: 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. :muscle:

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 :india: & Urdu :pakistan: 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 :see_no_evil:)

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 :1st_place_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 :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. :woman_shrugging:

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. :woman_in_steamy_room::shower:
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.)

:bulb: 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. :wink:)

Hope to see you soon in a lesson or talk to you in our community forum!

Cheers :raising_hand_woman:,


Nice introduction, Lydia! I really enjoyed reading it. Also, if it makes you feel any better, as a US American speaker “are you having a shower” would have also sounded weird to me because I would never say it that way!!


Thank you, @danielle! And yes, that makes me feel a bit better. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: I had many of these small moments, though… This one just stood out to me, haha! In school it seemed so easy but when I found myself in a real life conversation, I couldn’t even form a simple sentence. Well, practice makes better (probably not perfect)!

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OMG, I love the bird fun facts! And the shower story made me :joy: Congrats Lydia for teaching so many lessons and helping so many students!


@FrauDrInda, thank you! If you like bird fun facts, I have quite a few. Did you know that young song birds babble just like human babies? Or that bird song uses grammar? :woman_teacher::bird:


That is so cool @Lydia_Schulze!

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@Lydia_Schulze this is so cool! I am a neuroscientist too! Where did you study? I did my master’s in HU, in Mind and Brain.


Hi @Lisa91, I studied at FU Berlin, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. What was your master’s thesis about and what are you doing these days?

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@Lydia_Schulze I wrote it on cortical myelination in patients with early MS and whether we can predict how the disease will develop from the demyelination patterns and extent. These days I left academia and am writing code for Chatterbug :smiley:

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@Lisa91 Cool! :slight_smile: I had a few internships where we did research with medical application but not so many. Mostly basic research. It’s quite interesting to me that a lot of biologists/(neuro)scientists don’t work in their field. How did you get into coding? I did my bachelor’s in bioinformatics but I wasn’t good at coding. :grimacing:

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@Lydia_Schulze and I had a few internships where I did animal research :smiley: My absolute favorite was the one where I got to use optogenetics.

Yeah, the conditions of working in academia were not as great, as you certainly know… :grimacing: I taught myself how to code a bit during my studies to analyze some data and always did it as a hobby. So when I was thinking of changing careers that was a clear candidate. I attended a coding bootcamp to learn in a more systematic manner.