Tag Archives: english

Our Last Meeting

Meeting number 10 marked the end of our planned meetings. While Alex and I hope to meet again between thesis work and exams  we decided to end the blog here as we can not guarantee anymore entries.

Once again we visited Cafe Europa and our focus was once again on languages rather than culture. At this meeting we focused on meeting the learning intentions we identified at the beginning of the course and ensuring we had covered everything we wanted to learn from each other.

At the beginning of this course we were asked to develop a learning plan, in that plan I identified what I would like to learn from Alex and how I would measure that success.

My learning intention were to;

Understand the basics of German grammar and sentence structure.

Expand vocabulary

Gain knowledge of the German number system

Gain knowledge of German foods

And my Success Criteria were;

Be able to recognise written words e.g. food and common verbs

Be able to greet someone, introduce myself and say where I am from.

To be able to count verbally and write (at least to 10)

To be able to state and write the date and time.

Be able to order food and drink.

As we come to the end of our meetings I have realised that it was ambitious of me to try and understand German grammar and sentence structure. Instead I have focused on learning useful phrases and expanding my vocabulary. I am now able to introduce myself and say where I am from and recognise both visually and verbally words for food, everyday items and common verbs. I can also count to 10 and place a food order in a restaurant, although I have yet to do this in practice I at least know what to say!

For this reason I believe that my experience with the EOTO module has been a successful one. This experience has not only helped me gain a small insight into Austrian culture and the German language but challenged my knowledge of my own language and encouraged me to increase my knowledge of English and ask myself why I speak the way I do. In the beginning in teaching English I aimed to;

Understand and discover differences and similarities between the languages.

Discover the history between some commonly used phrases, the evolution of English.

Think more about how and what I say, different pronunciations of the same word.

Consolidate my knowledge of English grammar.

I have not only done this and more my knowledge of grammar and tenses has grown considerably as well as the origin of words.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning with Alex and I intend to continue practising German when I can. Hopefully I will find the time to visit not only Germany but also Austria where Alex and other people I have become friends with during my time here are from.

Coffee and a Cake!

Once again Alex and I went for coffee, or a hot chocolate in my case. I quite like the relaxed atmosphere of cafes and trying out different coffees and cakes.

Unfortunately our visit was cut short due to a fire alarm but Alex and I discussed the differences in Austrian and Scottish education systems. There are many similarities when it comes to learning a more practical career or “vocational skills” such as joinery, masonry, hairdressing and beauty. At home students would usually go to college instead of university however there are some university that also offer these courses. After some classroom work students would then go and have and work in the industry. The employer would then help the student achieve the tasks set by the college and gain more skills however if the employer does not feel that the student is ready for something they can prevent them from completing tasks.

This week I also watched a German film called Das Weisse Band or The White Ribbon. The film was in German with English subtitles and I was surprised at how many words I recognised without the help of the subtitles. I still have a long way to go but my German vocabulary is slowly and surely growing.

Fazer Cafe

Meeting number 7 took place in the Fazer Cafe which was great as I have been wanting to visit since I first arrived.

Alex and I discussed how the American spelling of many words in English has become more acceptable and also the American meaning for some words. This could be why people trying to translate something using Google have such a hard time.

We also examined the differences between using the past tense and the perfect past tense. This was quite difficult for me as it was not focused on too heavily in school. However I quite like that my own understanding of English is improving as well. The use of the words gone and been were practiced as Alex was wondering if he could say “I have gone there”. This is not possible as if you have gone you can not be present to tell me you have gone, admittedly this get a little confusing with telephone calls. If you are present and have returned then you have been somewhere, the past participle of the word be. However you can say he/she has gone etc. Another option is to say  that you went there.

Alex then taught me how to ask for things in German “I would like” is “Ich möchte”. unfortunately I cannot use this in Finland but I can practice with the other Germans in my accommodation.

 

Cafe Europa

What’s this 2 meetings in one week!? Meeting number 6 once again happened over coffee, one of my favourite beverages , in Café Europa.

Alex and I discussed the differences in living between Austria and Scotland. I had heard that in Germany people prefer to rent rather than buy their own place. Alex said in Austria the dream would be to have your own home in the countryside. In Scotland it is a little mixed I don’t really know if their is an ideal home some people want a flat in the hustle and bustle of the city, others want a quiet country life.

We discussed prepositions again and how there is no hard and fast rule about which preposition to use, you really need to understand the two words that you are describing the relationship between and their relationship to one another then pick the right preposition.

I learned 2 new verbs today, hören – to listen/hear and spielen – to play.

I also took the opportunity to ask Alex about the letter ß which sounds like an s. When ß is used it means that the sound before it is a short sound like in the word heiße. This is useful to know as it helps me work out the pronunciation of a word. I have been using an app to help with learning more vocabulary and sentence construction and I am hopeful that  I will be able to hold a short conversation in German soon.

 

Tea or Coffee?

Meeting number 5 took place over 2 lattes in a convenient café around the corner from TOAS city. Alex and I discussed the stereotypes surrounding Britain and tea. There are just as many coffee drinkers as there are tea drinkers in the UK and there are a huge range of teas available to choose from. Personally I’m a coffee snob that has been dragged around far too many tea stores by my family!

We also had a chance to discuss the difference between an accent and dialect and whether or not I have ever felt that I have to change my accent for example in a job interview. I feel that in many circumstances I will change my speech to a more standard English and wouldn’t use words like ‘aye’ but I have never had to drop my accent. That is not to say that people with a stronger accent may not change theirs as it is still possible for some people to be subconsciously prejudiced against it and it can sometimes be difficult to understand.

Alex also asked for clarification as to when to use certain prepositions- to, at, on, with etc. For example you can agree on a time and date, agree with a person or concept and agree to take an action but you can not agree at. You can also be at a meeting or even in a meeting but you wouldn’t be on a meeting, the meeting could be on though.

The preposition describes a temporal, spatial or logical relationship with the something known as the ‘object of the preposition’. The object of a preposition is always a noun and never a verb. Changing the preposition can subtly change the meaning of a sentence.

I asked for some conjunctions and prepositions in German to help me create sentences and learned some more answers to the question; Wie geht es dir?, how are you?

I now know;

aber   but

und   and

mit   with

für   for

Mir geht es gut/exzellent      I am good/excellent

So,

Hallo, ich heiße Joanne. Ich bin 22 Jahre alt und ich bin Britin. Meine Lieblingsfarbe ist blau. Ich mag es Schokolade zu essen und Kaffee zu trinken.

Next meeting Alex is going to bring some written German so I can practice reading in German and then see if I can translate it.

 

Lunch at TAMK

For our third meeting Alex and I met at TAMK for lunch with the intention of revising some of the foods I had learned and discussing the construction of sentences do I would be able to order food. However as is the norm for lunch at TAMK some of our friends came to join us, this was great for Alex as he got to learn the differences between my accent, which can be difficult to understand, and my friend Ailis’ American accent.

Some of or Austrian friends also joined us and we discussed some general language rules for example in German if there is a double T then the I sound is short for example, in the word bitte – Thank you. This was useful to work on my pronunciation although apparently when I speak German it is hilarious because of my accent, I suppose it’s like hearing English spoken with a German accent but as that is so common I have stopped questioning it or finding it unusual! Perhaps I should work on my accent!

We also spoke about how all nouns get a capital letter in German including the word name! In English it tends just to be pronouns;

Hallo mein Name ist Joanne, ich bin 22 jahre alt.

A language rule I mentioned to Alex was that in English if there is a vowel in the middle of a word and an ‘e’ at the end then the vowel make the sound of the letter name so I is eye. However if there is no ‘e’ at the end the the vowel make the letter sound so I would be ih like in kit, adding an ‘e’ makes it kite. The vowel changes sound, some other examples would be fat – fate, rate- rate, bit- bite.

While not a massive difference sometimes people pronounce it like eat making the phrase eat it rather difficult to say and differentiating between words like hit and heat are difficult.

I find it difficult to comment on someones English language ability as no matter how much they struggle they make a valiant effort and their ability in English far surpasses my ability in any other language.

I am looking forward to my next meeting with Alex but until then I will continue to practise the words I have and work on my accent!

Alphabet Pizza

For our second meeting Alex and I went to Pizza Napoli with a large group from our residence. I have started to write down all the German words I learn of course as I was doing this my Spanish friends insisted that I learn more Spanish words and I took this as an opportunity to revise my French.

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As such I am able to easily see any similarities in the language. Although I have a reference for all the languages my primary focus will be on learning German.

We also took the time to revise the German I did know for example days of the week, numbers up to 5, please and thank you. Alex took this as an opportunity to communicate purely in English as there was such a mix of languages present it was the one common language. I feel he learned a lot of this and gained confidence in his use of the language as well as clarification on a few words he was unsure of.

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At this point I feel i could recognise written words on a menu in German but I would struggle to remember and pronounce them without something to aid me.

 

The Beginning of a Linguistic Adventure

The language and culture I am learning about is German. Alex Lang will be taking on this rather daunting task and in return I will help him consolidate his knowledge of the English language and share a little of my own culture with him.

During our first meeting we outlined our preliminary plan but our conversation took a turn down many different avenues as we discussed what we would each like to learn from the other. For myself it was to gain a basic understanding of the German language and be able to construct sentences and questions to be able to communicate conversationally.  We spoke of Scotland and its many myths and legends including that of the Loch Ness monster “Nessie”. I hope to learn about some German/ Austrian folk tales and maybe practice reading some German.

Many turns of phrase in English are due to the beliefs of our ancestors for example; when someone sneezes we say “bless you” this is because many years ago it was believed that when you sneezed it was part of your soul escaping and by saying bless you the soul was encouraged back into the body. From this discussion I learned that in German you say gesundheit.

For our next meeting we plan to go to an Italian restaurant and learn different foods. I am looking forward to learning more German.

 

True Finns – A comedic look at life in Finland

Yesterday a part of our group were at the True Finns show at O’Connell’s. True Finns is a live comedy show that explores Finnish culture and stereotypes in hopes to understandtruefinns what life in Finland is like for both Finns and Foreigners. One of the comedian was a Finn, the other one was an American.

At the beginning of the show the topic was Thanksgiving because the Americans celebrated that yesterday.  The comedians called some random guys of the audience on the stage and asked them what they know about this public holiday. Soon we, as non-americans, could imagine how this day is celebrated: Many people eat dimensions of food and talk about nonsense, and that for hours. After that the two comedians showed funny newspaper articles and made jokes about them.

Before

After a short break the topic of the show was “pikkujoulut”, what means little christmas. Pikkujoulut are small celebrations before christmas (usually from companies or associations) where the people drink much alcohol. The comedians called one guy on the stage and asked them about pikkujoulut and that was really funny. He said that he usually not remembers anything and the word alcohol describes the thing the best. After that they showed us ten advices what you should not do at pikkujoulut like choosing wisely who to take home because you have to work with some persons the whole year.

After

In the last part of the show they searched on Twitter for hashtags which are related to pikkujoulut like #hangover or #adultery. The audience could choose the searched terms. The comedians and three others made an impro about these terms. It was really funny.

For me the evening at O’Connell’s was very funny and I learned much about Finnish and American culture. I was surprised that I understood everything, so my English knowledge increased a lot since I’m here in Finland.

 

 

 

 

 

Munkki and ¡Basta!

Last Sunday (22/11) was my 9th meeting with my EOTO group mates, which was also rather spontaneous because of our schedules again. Still, five of us – Ani, Emilia, Sofia, Paola and I gathered, went to Pyynikin Munkkikahvila in the city centre, ordered hot chocolate and munkki and proceeded with our EOTO session.

munkki

To which, it was a little awkward at first because we didn’t come well-prepared with study materials, since we had to have at least one meeting that week. We talked about how our day went and some general things about the weather (“hace mucho frio” – It is very cold). But luckily for us, Sofia and Paola taught us how to play this wonderful word game called ¡Basta!, which means “Stop!” in Spanish. It’s really amazing how these simple games that you picked up during childhood can be used as language learning material for others.

Continue reading Munkki and ¡Basta!