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Final Reflection

Posted by: | May 5, 2009 | 13 Comments |

My fourth semester in German has been perhaps, the most turbulent yet. While I am accustomed to the ups and downs of college life, I typically find comfort in simply outlasting demanding course work and observing incremental progress in my studies. However, this was not the case for GERST2000. Finishing the semester with a reflection seems fitting, as I’ve spent the past few days wondering why I still feel inadequate in the German language.

Readers may glance over my first paragraph and gulp, so I should make it clear that I greatly enjoyed the actual course. I was pleased with the pace of the course, the material, and the mediums through which we explored the language and culture. I maintain that a relaxed pace is best suited for the acquisition of any language; that is, when I feel rushed by deadlines and test-dates, I tend to concentrate on the product and not the process. Further, I enjoyed the material we covered in the course, especially the film Good Bye Lenin!. I thought that the last few weeks of the course were the most interactive and stimulating, which I feel is most attributable to the movie as a medium. Lastly, the film was not the only unique medium through which we explored the German language and culture. I believe that the course benefited greatly from such a high level of interactive assignments, using blackboard and internet-based assignments.

Yet for all the pleasure I took away from the course itself, I sit here perplexed. I really enjoy German as a language, yet I feel severely inadequate. Feeling inadequate isn’t upsetting, the inability to translate my excitement for the course into greater success (in regard to my abilities) is.  That is, my speaking ability and repertoire of vocabulary is diminishing at an alarming rate. Searching for an answer, I find two possible avenues. First, although I enjoyed the course, I think that the lack of structured speaking assignments/class work lends to my inadequacy in communicating. Second, I admit to a low level of commitment and effort this semester. If I hope to attain the level of progress I desire and to continue to be enthralled with the German language and culture, I must address these issues.

I don’t know where I am going with “my German,” but I intend on committing a significant portion of my lazy summer to refreshing my vocabulary and seeking a channel through which I can practice my oral skills. Since I came to Cornell, my goal has been to study abroad in Munich, but I fear that I have become disenchanted with the language and looming possibility that I will be required to study in Berlin. However, I am confident that wherever I wind up in the Spring of 2010, I will be traveling to Germany and using my German as much as possible.

It was not my intention to make this last reflection a somber one, yet I think that my semester-long frustration is finding a respectful resting place. I hope to return in the fall with a fresh perspective and full level of excitement. 

under: Third Semester German Work
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13 Comments

  1. By: dbm93 on May 16, 2009 at 2:08 pm      

    I’ll leave comments in German for other portfolio pieces, but I’d like to leave you a quick note here in English. You are at a point now where it will seem to you like the learning curve flattens out. I know – I’ve been there and I remember how frustrating it feels. You now know enough German to realize how much you don’t yet know, and this insight is not particularly rewarding. Everyone goes through this, unless they give up and call it quits at this point, which is when most universities stop requiring language study anyway.

    That said, I could see that you were visibly frustrated in the later part of the semester in a way that you were not in the first part of the semester. I do think this had something to do with the structure of the course, which was not optimal for you, as well as the fact that you missed an entire week for an illness early on – it looked to me like you had a hard time getting back in sync.

    At this point in your German studies, there are some bright spots. One is that I believe you will experience less frustration with the format of 2040. Another is your determination to go to Germany. The challenge of doing this will be frustrating at times, but you will also have the satisfaction of overcoming hurdles and seeing progress that you would not see sitting through several more semesters of classroom practice.

    I push our Berlin program because I know it is administered much better than other programs I have seen (I have worked for several others) and we are in a position to monitor your progress in Berlin from Ithaca. If, however, you have important personal reasons for wanting to go to Munich, then do that. We will be able to offer less advice and assistance, but if you are determined to make it work you will. DBM

  2. By: government grants on January 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm      

    At this point in your German studies, there are some bright spots. One is that I believe you will experience less frustration with the format of 2040. Another is your determination to go to Germany. The challenge of doing this will be frustrating at times, but you will also have the satisfaction of overcoming hurdles and seeing progress that you would not see sitting through several more semesters of classroom practice.

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  4. By: Oliver on January 18, 2011 at 2:45 am      

    Quite funny, I am following your postings once a year.. :-) How are things in 2011? Still that may hurdles?

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