After a smaller break in between our meetings, we finally managed to make another meeting happen! Inspired by other groups, we decided to also talk about music from artists from our country.
We started by asking each other what music we know from the other country. I was not surprised to hear 99 Luftbalons from Leonie. But I was surprised to hear O-Tannenbaum. Leonie said it was a part of her German lessons and is therefore quite known in France. From my side, the only French song that came into my mind right away was Alors on danse. Leonie helped us out with a classic French song called La vie en rose by Édith Piaf which is also quite famous from different movies.
After this, we continued with some famous music from our generation. Leonie started by showing us some rap music that she likes to listen to with her friends. Lisa and I were agreeing on the fact that there is a lot of German rap music, which we don’t like. But we could also agree that there is one Artist called Apache which has become quite famous in the last years and was more favoured by us as well. We also realized how little story there is in a lot of rap songs, which made it quite hard to translate the meaning of the song for each other.
After the rap songs I wanted to show something from a different genre and went with Pocahontas from AnnenMayKantereit. This Song has a happy feel to it although it is about a failed relationship. This song has also become quite popular in the last few years and even Leonie thinks she has already heard it somewhere.
For me this session was quite interesting because I think talking about music is something more personal and I liked hearing Lisas and Leonies opinion on it.
As usual, we started our session with some small talk. Since we have been travelling in the past weeks, we decided to talk about some basic vocabulary that can help you while travelling.
We started with some essential city locations you may need (or hopefully not) when travelling such as Aeroport, hospital and Banque. We realized that some French words are written like the English words, but are pronounced very differently. For me, this made the correct pronunciation even harder, since you feel like you recognize the written word.
On the other hand, most of these words will be easy to remember because they are similar to the English and the German word. One example here would be the French word Police which is spelt the same as the English word police, while the German word is also similar Polizei.
When we talked more about finding your way at an airport, we realized that all the locations there are named in English and have no translation in German of French. I think this makes a lot of sense since most of the people at an airport will be international travellers and this way, they don’t need to translate every sign.
After one week break, we had another meeting today.
In the beginning, we were talking a lot about personal stuff, which was related to traveling. Because of that, we then learned some words that can be used in relation to travel or generally in a foreign city, especially in another country.
These included some words like airport, central station, cab, but also distinctive buildings and places like museums, banks, hospitals or schools. We noticed that in French many words are written similarly to English (for example police), which makes it even harder with the pronunciation, because you already have the English pronunciation in your head. And, as we have found out several times, the spelling and pronunciation in French is often very different. Other words, however, were similar to German (for example banque = bank = Bank). Therefore, most of the words will be easy to remember and learn for us.
We also noticed that descriptions at the airport, such as gate or terminal, do not seem to exist in another language but are called the same in every language. Tim had a very good theory about this: Since there are many non-native people at the airport, it would make little sense to translate these words into the local language but so it is easy for everyone to find their way around.
We also talked about the idea that – as soon as Corona allows us to travel again – we want to try to finally see each other in person in France or Germany.
Yesterday, we had another meeting to teach and learn French and German.
Before our professional meeting – like I would name our yesterday’s lesson – started we talked again about the cooking session we are planning to do next weekend. Tim and I already decided on two German recipes we want to give to Leonie, Leonie will give us a selection from which we can choose from on our next meeting at the middle of the upcoming week. There, we will then translate the recipes so that we know what we need to buy until Saturday.
After that we started our professional meeting. We planned to do some professional talk. So, basically speaking about skills, professions, education etc. – kind of our CV. It was not only really interesting to get known to the specific words in French, but also to see what the others of us already have done, learned and worked. Again, there came up some difficulties in translating words, as some of the words or processes are only in Germany. For example, it is unique in Europe, that you can do a so-called apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a special type of education, where you work in a company. You also get paid for that, but additionally visit a vocational school to learn theoretical stuff and also how to use programs, tools etc. in your daily work life. After you have finished your apprenticeship, you can directly start working in this profession. Normally, it takes about three years to get this qualification. This type of education is especially for people, who don’t have Abitur (A Level degree) and therefore are not able to go to an university.
After talking about that, we also talked about the different graduation levels in Germany and France, and how you can achieve them. During this we found out, that there are a lot of similiarities in both countries – Leonie said, the system changed in France and she has the feeling like they just copied the German school system. Furthermore, in both countries, the degrees are at different difficulty levels depending on the region. For example, the final exams in France are most difficult in Paris and in Germany in Bavaria.
This week we decided to talk about some professional vocabulary. But first, we started our session by organizing our cooking experience for the upcoming week. We decided to have another short meeting beforehand where we would translate the recipes into English as well. This way, we have Leonie’s recipe in English and French.
After we had this part out of the way, we started by translating our CVs. When it was my turn to read out the French version of my CV, I realized that this was way over my current French level. I struggled a lot. But I also started to realize some things that I always get wrong and noted them down for me. Hopefully, this way I can stop making these mistakes.
While going through the CVs, we realized that school systems are often different in other countries, which makes it hard to describe your grade of education. Therefore, we decided to talk about the differences between the German and French school systems. While doing so, we realized that there are a lot of similarities between the German and French school systems. Leonie explained to us that they have changed it recently. She thinks that they have tried to copy the German system with these changes. Same as in Germany, there are also differences in the difficulty when you graduate from school based on your region. I personally think that this makes no sense and should be changed.
After nearly two weeks we had our third meeting today. We were talking about going to a restaurants and also how to order there and saying what you like or dislike. Once again, we have become aware of some things that we have never noticed in everyday use of the German language, but which are very difficult to explain to a non-native speaker. I don’t know if German is really that much harder to learn than French in terms of grammar or if we just notice it more here. I have the feeling that we do a little bit easier with the French pronunciation at every meeting. However, it is always very difficult for us Germans to understand why something is pronounced the way it is, because there are some peculiarities when a letter is omitted or pronounced. With some words, e.g. poivre (=pepper), you pronounce the r, but not the e – that feels to me like I’m about to have a knot in my tongue. Also, we realized today that we’ve never talked about common phrases of politeness, like Please, Thank you, Congratulations, etc., so we made this up.
Until our next meeting, everyone is looking for a recipe about a typical dish from their home country, which we then want to translate at our next meeting and cook “together” the week after – I am already very excited about what delicious stuff we will make.
One thing that people from Germany and France (and probably a lot of other countries as well) can agree on is the importance of good food! I personally love to try traditional dishes whenever I am travelling. Therefore, we decided to go over some basic sentences you need when you go to a restaurant.
For me as a vegetarian, this is always a topic since most of the traditional meals in Germany and France include some non-vegetarian ingredients. Therefore, we also talked about what we like and dislike about food. I hope I can remember at least these words, so I can avoid the food I do not want to eat.
After talking about some phrases, we realized that we never actually talked about being polite in French or German. So, we continued with phrases like S’il te plait/ s’il vous plait and Je vous en prie/ de rien.
Once again, I realized how difficult German grammar can be. I have never thought about it this actively.
We concluded by briefly talking about our cooking plans for a future session. We decided to pick out multiple recipes for each other so that Lisa and I can decide what we would like to try as well as Leonie.
Today was our second lesson and we decided to focus on some phrases to describe our living situation. So we looked at phrases to describe our apartment layout, how many and which rooms we have and on what floor the apartment is located.
I was still struggling with the pronunciation of some French words, but I felt a bit more confident than last time. Sometimes it was a bit difficult to get the pronunciation just right because of the zoom audio. Especially in short words, it would sometimes cut off parts of the word.
This time German had a big surprise for me. Building the plural form of German nouns is surprisingly hard to explain. This is something I never thought about because it comes naturally as a native speaker. We searched online to find some grammar rules on this topic, but they were quite complex as well. Even with these rules, there are quite a few exceptions. We looked at the words for “kitchen” (Küche) and living room (Wohnzimmer). If you build the plural form of “Küche” you just add an “n” (eine Küche, zwei Küchen) while the noun “Wohnzimmer” does not change when you build the plural form (ein Wohnzimmer, zwei Wohnzimmer). While the German plural forms were quite complicated, the French ones were straight forward. To build the plural of a noun you simply add an “s”.
It was a lot of fun teaching some German today and I feel that I can learn something from it as well. I am eager to see what other surprises German has for me as a native speaker.
Today we had our second (virtual) meeting. After our first meeting I felt like it’s already a bit easier to pronounce some of the French words, also I was a little proud of myself because I could still remember some of the numbers we have learnt last week.
We were talking about living circumstances: Where and how do we live? When learning and teaching this topic we also came up with some grammatical stuff and recogonized even one more time, that the German language is really hard to learn and also to teach, as we were also quite confused sometimes and did not know directly how to explain the complex grammar rules, like declination. I really have huge respect for all people who voluntarily learn German and enjoy it. But Léonie did very well and showed one more time, that she already has a very good base of German knowledge. The time of our meeting went by way too fast again today, but we had a lot of fun and were able to learn some new words and expressions.
As there is the holiday week in the first week of March we agreed on also having a short break and continue in two weeks. Then we will talk about food and typical German or French dishes, which we then want to cook/bake in our 4th meeting. This will be a lot of fun and I am already looking forward to this.
We already met las week to get known to each other a little bit and to roughly discuss how we want to organize our meetings. After that everybody could write their preliminary plans and we agreed for our first meeting for today. As Léonie could unfortunately not come to Tampere, due to the new restrictions, we met via Zoom.
We taught and learnt the first basics, so how to introduce yourself and the numbers until 100. It’s very interesting and funny, that when you count, you must also be good at math: 80 is quatre vingt, which means 4 x 20 or 90 is quatre vingt dix, which means 4 x 20 + 10. That’s really weird for me. Nevertheless, we could also find out something about German numbers, which I was not recognizing until today. If you are counting in German, you always read it the other way around, so you mention first the second number and then the first one, for example 99 is neunundneunzig – in English it would be “nine-and-ninety”.
Even, if I learnt French more than 10 years ago, it was not easy for me to find the right pronunciation. So we had quite a lot of fun when we were trying to spell it in the right way. Only spelling my name was quite easy, becaus it’s not very differnt to the German pronunciation of the alphabet.
Léonie has already quite a good German understanding, that’s we were speaking more about French language today. We will practice what we learnt today until our next meeting on Wednesday next week. After learning the basics, we are planning to learn and teach more about the world we are living in. So, stay tuned for updates on our journey to become pros in speaking French and German!