Last week I visited my first German classes in a Gymnazium here in Ostrava. Teaching my language to foreigners seemed like a nice job to do. Also it keeps me speaking German. Only after 2 weeks of speaking English to everyone around me it already happened that I called my parents and spoke some random English sentences in the middle of a German conversation. There is definitely some language mixing going on here ^^
But who wouldn’t get a little confused sometimes when in your daily environment there are only Czech speakers, at work and in private you speak English to everyone, and then there are also your friends/colleagues speaking Spanish, Turkish and French around you. Only when you text or call people at home you switch to German.
I’ve never experienced so many languages being spoken at the same place and time. But there is a lot of great stuff about this too. We often sit in pubs and talk about our languages. We find out what the differences and similarities are, make others count or even say tongue twisters in our language, and this is just a ton of fun. Make a French guy say “Fichtendickicht” when you have the possibility. We died laughing as he could not pronounce the “ch” properly. Of course he laughs just as loud about my poor French pronunciation ^^
Together, we can raise our drinks and say “Santé!“, „Salud!“, „Şerefe!”, “Prost!”, “Cheers!” and by now also “Na zdraví!“ and I really enjoy this. In my opinion having friends from other countries is the best way to learn about other nations and about their languages. I have never felt so close to these places and talking to the other volunteers got me really interested in their home countries.
We can constantly come up with something new about our language the others usually find really amusing or interesting as it’s the same thing in their mother tongue.
So: A Frenchman, a Spaniard, a Turk and a German sit in their very first Czech lesson. A student of Ostrava university tries to teach them the basics (in English, of course, so everyone understands). She lists some answers to the question “Jak se máš?“ (How are you?), one of them being “Jde to”. Now I would love to put the translation in brackets but unfortunatly we found out that English doesn’t really have a word for it. She tried finding English phrases to express that it means something like “okay...”, “neither good nor bad” but we were left kinda confused until she translated it literally with “It’s going”. Now where Englishmen ask “Where the hell is it going?”, me and my French colleague understood it immediatly. “Es geht”. Nothing easier than that.
For someone who is really interested in language (like me), these situations are always enriching and also amusing and I cannot tell how happy I am to be here not with other German volunteers, but with people from all over Europe. We all improve our English every day and at the same time learn about other languages, nations and cultures. This is the most colourful life I’m living right now! :)