I had written the first draft of this post a year ago, but I didn’t post it because it was mainly a rant about my English professor, which I hate – okay, hate my be too strong, but I don’t really like her. For the past two years, ever since I started studying, the main tenor after my (oral) exams was: “Angelika, you will impress people with you knowledge, but you must really improve your vocabulary.” And therefore she made us learn vocabulary every semester, in January I was tested on 1200 English vocabs. You might have guessed – I didn’t like it, it was more a nuisance than everything else and much last minute learning was involved (we also call this “bulimia learning”, learning a lot in a short time and empty your brain just for the exam) and nobody in our group ever saw any sense in this.
Well, I had my last oral exam last Saturday (there will be a written exam at the end of August), it consisted of a presentation of twenty minutes (you could chose the topic yourself, however it had to be something business related – I chose “Gender inequality in today’s business world”) and a discussion afterwards. I had to say, it went fairly well, however, I guessed that my teacher would find lots and lots and lots to criticise me about. But she didn’t. Suddenly she was full of praise and totally impressed with my performance. I will quote her, because I can’t believe it myself really. “You were precise, and clear, your pronounciation and expression was so natural, your arguments were profound and you had the rapt attention of the audience for the whole twenty minutes. And you are really rhetorically gifted.” I sat there completely stunned. :-O At this point I should metion that I also have classes in rhetoric and presentation techniques, and lord – I really suck in these classes. The main tenor from my prof: “You have the knowledge, but you can’t really bring it across to the audience. Your speech is mostly horrible and at some points even I cannnot understand you.” So the complete opposite from what my English prof told me. I told her so and she really was surprised, I tell you.
So, this has been on my mind, I have to admit. And somehow what my English prof told me was true – I felt much more comfortable in front of the audience speaking English. I guess this is pretty strange, because: Isn’t it more natural/normal to me more averse to giving in a presentation in a foreign language? I can only judge this from the reactions from my fellow students (I also sat in all their English exams, but I won’t go into detail about the why) and they were pretty nervous. This is by no means a post about I realise how awesome I am and how good my language skills are, but I realised that I had fewer and fewer problems with the language itself and I really look forward to my semester abroad (I will be studying in Newcastle come September).
I mean – I write this blog in English, which is only my second language. And I have started writing fanfictions in English (well, I had to get the connection to fanfiction, right? ), however I simultanously also write German fanfictions, and boy, it’s getting more difficult, because some things are really better in English. Some scenes are really in my mind in English and it’s not easy to translate them. So, an easy example:
“My husband is perfectly fine,” I bristled. “Thank you. [...]” Major difficulties with the verb “bristle”, which – according to the online dictionary – means “sich sträuben, zornig werden, sich über etwas empören”. But none of these get across the feeling, IMO. I also like the word “quip” – in German “witzeln” sounds horrible! Or blush – my favourite word, “erröten” is simply so hard and doesn’t bring along the feeling. Thinking about it, there are lots of examples coming to my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, contrary to many fellow countrymen I really like the German language, but English has really grown on me, so I guess this won’t be my last post on language issues. And right now, I’m also really happy about my good grade in English