I spent nearly two weeks in Vienna (with a few days in Budapest thrown in), seeing sites and hoping to improve my German. I’m not so familiar with the Common European Framework, but before I left, I’d say my German was a low B1. The objective of my trip was similar to Steve’s trip to Prague, i.e., to try to activate some of my passive German and generally improve my abilities in the language.
After leaving, I’d say my German speaking ability is not really much different from when I left, but my vocabulary is bigger and my sense of the language is generally better. My results were good in some ways and bad in others. I used German as much as possible. At first I was embarrassed to interact with native speakers. After a day or two I didn’t care about my pidgin German, and tried to engage different people. I had no utterly embarrassing situations, although there was of course A LOT I didn’t understand. I successfully gave directions to a native German speaker, among other things. I also got used to hearing German used all around me. One Viennese immigrant, a Bulgarian who spoke pretty fluent German, mistook me for a German when he struck up a conversation with me. This did not last, however, as he quickly realized I wasn’t fluent.
What I need to work on now is words, words, words. I simply don’t have enough. More listening, more reading. Admittedly, owing to work and other things, I didn’t listen and read enough before I left. I should have prepared more, but my approach to language is not to worry about how long it takes me and just to enjoy learning.
Oh, and I also did a bit of flirting with a few Austrian waitresses, one of whom told me she liked that I was learning German.
Sorry to keep adding to this, but I should sum up by saying I was very happy with my experience in Austria. It is a wonderful country and I had an amazing time. No, I did not become magically C1 fluent in German in two weeks, but that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to test the waters, and I succeeded. I had no embarrassments, quite a few successful interactions, and my love of and dedication to German grew significantly. Now I can focus on more input and hopefully pull a Steve next year: visit Austria or Germany again and make the leap into real fluency.
Thanks for the update! Good time now to set goals for the year ahead and work towards them.
ad rwargas22: (…)
Sorry to keep adding to this, but I should sum up by saying I was very happy with my experience in Austria. It is a wonderful country and I had an amazing time. (…)
I’m so happy you enjoyed your stay in Austria! Once you venture out of Vienna, you’ll see that there is a lot more to discover. I hope you’ll come back.
(…) … Oh, and I also did a bit of flirting with a few Austrian waitresses, one of whom told me she liked that I was learning German. (…)
I guess just like in many other places people here in Austria are very appreciative of foreigners who make an effort to learn the local language.
You sound very energized. Good for you. Thanks for telling us how your geographical and language journey went.
You only have 700 words. Are you taking your time? I really was expecting to see something more. You must have just started with LingQ and have a bigger vocabulary than the LingQ word count suggests. I have 3500 words in Spanish right now and struggle to have a basic conversation with native speakers, although I’m getting better with each day. But you’re right with keeping it enjoyable. Keeping it enjoyable increases the chances that you’ll put in a consistent long term effort in the language, and that’s the key. I always have to remind myself of that.
“You only have 700 words. Are you taking your time?”
No. I should have clarified–I think I did on another forum somewhere on LingQ and thought, mistakenly, that I did here–that I haven’t been using LingQ for my German. I have been speaking with a private tutor and reading on my own.
“This did not last, however, as he quickly realized I wasn’t fluent”
This is the Worst. Whenever I randomly hear a German accent, I’ll try to talk to them, say a few basic phrases, and Bam! There’s the dead end of the German conversation; back to speaking english. It’s exciting and dissapointing at the same time. However, these occurrences always re-insprire me to work harder. (Like lock myself in for 6 months and become a study troll, hard.