Your soul’s language

In my post about my ROW80 Goals, I said that I would try to write in both: my native language German, and my second language English.

That sparked a few comments about others wanting to write in another language as well or to be able to switch.

To me, switching back and forth between the two languages is something I have done most of my life. Obviously, having grown up and attended school in Germany, I learned German first. But I’ve always been interested in English, since I found out my godfather had moved to the States and was back for a visit. I was told he had to speak a different language where he lives and I demanded to know how I could say “How do you do” and “What time is it” and little things like that in order to speak to him as I truly believed he wouldn’t be able to understand me otherwise. I was five. And my godfather was duly impressed by my effort (even though he is German and understood me just fine).

Then at primary school I had an English classmate. She became one of my best friends, and every time I went to her house after school, her mum made us count to 100 in English before we were allowed to have lunch. I loved it, and asked to count by myself to see whether I got it right. I used to practice at home the night before I’d go to Susan’s after class, just to be prepared. Then I came across an after-school English class and joined. When it came to choosing a secondary school, I enrolled at Gymnasium Schwertstrasse,  the one grammar school in town that had just established a bilingual, “Anglo-German” unit. I was in one of the two first ever bilingual years, and stayed until I graduated nine years later.

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