We met in the morning to do a small nature trail to school. We decided to walk around a lake called Iidesjärvi. There was a bird watching tower near the lake. Since we saw a couple of birds, I revised bird names in German, for example swan is Schwan. We also talked about different trees in our language. I’ve struggled with the German “r” letter, so I also got to repeat that multiple times. The walk lasted almost 2 hours and was very refreshing and allowed us to talk about our interests and future plans.
When we arrived to school we ate lunch together and talked about driving in Germany. I didn’t know that there is no speed limit in driving on the Autobahn. I had also heard that if you miss a turning point in driving on the Autobahn, you’d have to find the next exit and it could make you waste many hours. However, my language partner contradicted the myth and said that you’d find your way back to the Autobahn fairly quickly. I also never knew that Germans don’t mark their cars if they are beginners.
This was our last meeting, since we have already met 5 times (plus the introduction, so six). I feel like I learnt a lot about Germany and their culture. Now, when I meet a German, I actually know what they mean, when they say where in Germany they come from. My German is still not that fluent, however I gained confidence in understanding and speaking.
This time we decided to do a proper study at the library. We both took our computers with and opened a couple of triggers that seemed interesting to us. My language partner chose a trigger about work life. So we talked about what are the most common jobs in both of our countries and in what fields do our families work in. My language partner also learnt to pronounce certain words that would be handy in working in Estonia. We also talked about words that are similar in Estonian and German. For example “car” in Estonian is “auto”, as is in German.
I, however, opened a trigger about literature. I did my best to talk in German about my favourite childhood book. I stumbled upon some words, however I learnt a new word and how to say it in the past tense (entscheiden – to decide). I was also reminded again of some grammar rules I had forgotten. I hope to improve even more in my German next time.
This time we met at mine to make a German sandwich dish called Strammer Max. The dish was very easy to make and tasted great. My language partner said that this is a dish Germans usually eat when people come and help you move out. I enjoyed it a lot.
Before we met I wrote down my favourite travel destinations in Germany for a trigger. On our meeting I asked my partner to check out these destinations and name I few recommendations himself. Turned out most of the destinations I picked were in the South of Germany. My language partner is from the North of Germany, so I got a few recommendations where to go in the North too. For example he suggested to go to Pullman City which is a recreation of a Western Town (cowboys, country music etc). From then on we talked about how many states, islands our countries have and what our countries look like on a map. I told my language partner about our 2222 islands and that we have the longest ice road in Europe.
Although I thought I had learnt about Germany and its states in school, a lot was entirely new for me. I also learnt that Bavaria is the equivalent to Bayern. I had thought they were two different states.
Picture represents a Strammer Max. From Wikipedia.
For our next EST/GER meeting, we arranged a meet-up at a cafe. We chatted about our weeks and school life. Later on we opened one of the triggers and talked extensively about our travelling experiences. For the trigger we had to translate 10 travelling related questions to German and talk about them. I tried to translate them myself at first, however my language partner helped along and fixed my mistakes.
My language partner thankfully was willing to speak his mother language the whole meeting. When I didn’t understand, he said the same sentence slower in German and then finally translated it to English. This time I was more relaxed and willing to speak in German myself. I was dreadfully afraid of having a bad accent, however my language partner said that in Germany there are so many different accents, that sometimes it’s even difficult to understand a German. That made me feel more confident.
I also taught my language partner how to introduce himself in Estonian. Since he has already studied a bit of Finnish, he was surprised how similar the languages are. The only letter that is different is õ, however he was able to copy the sound very well.
I feel like the meeting was a success and I was able to study new words and revise the words I had already forgotten.
On Sunday we got together at my language partners place. I decided to cook something that has been my childhood favourite dish – buckwheat and cottage cheese. I also brought some Estonian chocolate with kama and found that Prisma sells an Estonian based kohuke (curd snack). During cooking we exchanged some famous songs from each of our countries.
Hearing my language partner and his flatmates speak German to me was very exciting, since I haven’t practised it for ages. I was surprised at how much I understood, even though sometimes the meaning of the texts arrived to me a bit late. I was too scared to answer in German myself this time. I could tell that my accent would be horrible. However, I have decided to at least try and speak German on our next meet-up.
To my language partner I taught the Estonian names of the food we had (tatar, kohuke, kama). However mainly we talked about our culture differences and some common grounds. We even managed to slightly cover such topics as politics and religion. I got to ask questions about some things my German teacher in school had taught and to check their accuracy. Listening to our countries songs anyway, I got a chance to also introduce my country’s anthem and translate it. I also introduced a massive event – Estonia’s Song Festival, which has held a special place in the hearts of Estonians and also touched the hearts of some foreigners.
I definitely learnt to be more confident in my German skills and step out of my comfort zone. I also thoroughly enjoyed listening to the uniquenesses of Germans and their culture.
This picture depicts the Estonian curd snack called kohuke.
(The picture is taken from flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anuwintschalek/8553573899)