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  #1  
Old 01.09.2006, 13:44
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The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

Just curious how many of you have been surviving on English mainly? How long have you been here? I speak broken German and have been here more than few years. So far so good due to being in a creative visual field. I have completed three German courses and was considered amongst the brightest in each of the course but as soon as the course finished I went back into my English mode. To be frank I feel very ashamed that I can't speek German properly.
The sad part is that I am planing to stay here for the long term so I think I have to get good at German!
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Old 01.09.2006, 13:55
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

Nice Thread..

Ashamed to admit it...
10 years...
I can however order a beer !
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  #3  
Old 01.09.2006, 14:01
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

The only way to do it is to take the bull by the horns, put aside your fears and your embarassment and just do it. Don't try to be perfect - accept that you'll make mistakes.

Managing to get yourself stuck for an extended period with people who can't speak English is also a big plus. I used to go for week long trips on diveboats with Germans. I'd come back thinking in German, dreaming in German. It's the biggest natural high you'll get when you feel as if you finally "get it".

Sorry I know you didn't want advice - you wanted to hear from others who haven't managed it. Sorry
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Old 01.09.2006, 14:18
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

during my time here, I have to say my German (learned for 5 years in school) improved reasonably - but the biggest improvement I made was when I had to interact fully with the yocals whilst bulding a bloody house.

I can say that my grammar is possibly stronger than my vocab. Words vanished after age 16 but the structure must've hidden in a bit of the grey area where beer could not penetrate
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Old 01.09.2006, 16:09
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

5.5 years.

It has nothing to do with fear and everything to do with being a cheap, lazy bastard who finds it very convenient that 40% of Zurich speaks English (forget where i get that but think it was official), values not understanding the mindless drivel some people say on the trams, and who's crippled by a unilingual American passport. Bloody hell...I can barely spell in my own native language!

But, panamahat...wow!!! i can't imagine going that long...in fact, i have been feeling the urge to actually got off my cheap, lazy arse and take lessons.
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Old 01.09.2006, 17:27
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

Yep. I still surprise myself with that one.

Lazy bast... perhaps,
but certainly not a "cheap lazy bast...."
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Old 01.09.2006, 17:28
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

btw my wife was born in Zurich and speaks absolutely no German. Does she win?

she does however speak fluent Italian, French and English
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Old 01.09.2006, 17:37
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

Yes. We DO have a winner - please. . . .
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Old 01.09.2006, 18:13
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I have to say ... this really cracks me up !!! The best moment of my day.
And I'll see how long I could last here without speaking German


Quote:
btw my wife was born in Zurich and speaks absolutely no German. Does she win?

she does however speak fluent Italian, French and English
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Old 01.09.2006, 18:58
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I will gladly accept Reputation donations on behalf of my missus
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Old 04.09.2006, 16:43
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I lived here previously for 6 years and only learned what I call survival German. I could hold a very basic conversation, could manage OK in shops etc and was quite happy with that as I always intended to leave Switzerland. I also spent 2 out of those 6 years in Neuchatel and had the same level of French.

Now that I am back here for the long haul I've given myself a target of being fluent in 2 years. My son will start primary school then so I have to be able to speak/read/write German to be able to help him with homework and deal with issues at school. It's just the incentive I need!

I did once work with a guy in Geneva who had lived there for 30+ years and was proud of the fact he could not speak a word of French. I thought that was pretty ignorant, you should at least learn enough to be polite.
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Old 08.09.2006, 13:08
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I think it's true that if you plan to stay at a place for more than a year, at least you should learn to speak that language enough to be polite, and that's what I plan to do

Let's see how good I can do
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Old 08.09.2006, 14:40
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I know a guy who know but a few words of German after 14 years - and then he feels surprised that he feels an outsider...sad.

dave
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Old 13.09.2006, 00:37
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

In my experience, and I've done two 3 month intensive courses in Switzerland, and part time prior to that during stints in Germany, it is important to get a good teacher.
The best I had was a lady called Lotte at the school opposite Bhf Wiedikon, Audio Visuelles Sprachinstitute. I got the basic Goethe certificate.
Of course the problem also is where you socialise, if you don't use it, you wont improve.
But I heard of people here 30 years that don't speak it.
K
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Old 13.09.2006, 07:56
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

There was an English guy who had been here for about 25 years who worked at the central library. He couldn't speak German, but slowly couldn't speak English properly either, and started speaking English with the German word order...

I believe that it is quite possible to live and work in the greater Zurich area and only speak English (depends on your job of course - but let's say as an English teacher). This is something that has changed even in the last 10 years. I have come across and Swiss plumber who speaks fluent English with a slight cockney accent. My dentist, vet and doctor speak English to me - despite my starting in German. I have heard people ask where something is in the Coop in English and been ready to help, only to hear directions from the shelf stacker to the correct shelves in English.

I used to have the trick of replying the beggars in the street with "Sorry mate, don't understand a word". Try that today and you are likely to get begged at in English...
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Old 13.09.2006, 11:55
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I found this thread really interesting. With only mimimal German (throwback from secondary education) I find that when I am immersed in German (aka tv, radio, boyfriend on phone etc) I pick up the prosody of the German language. This makes my English have a peculiar intonation, so I can thoroughly identify with the chap in the library. I am hoping, once I move over that this will be a good basis for picking up the accent of words, however I do have it on good authority that originating from Yorkshire does give me an advantage with my vowels!

I therefore think it is imperitive to learn the language so I dont end up with some freaky hybid version no-one can understand
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Old 14.09.2006, 14:54
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Dont worry all ....

For the Italians have been here for 50 years and they always speak bad German and thats after 2 generations..


We english speakers are saved!


Sauron
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Old 15.09.2006, 15:14
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I miss eavesdropping..doesn't help knowing German for that,you've
got to know the local dialect..such a bummer!
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Old 15.09.2006, 16:16
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

Mary I think that is so true... I am an avid people watcher and conversation snooper and when I'm in Zurich this is definitely what I miss. Thank goodness for body language and a vivid imagination, else I think I would quickly become very bored by the whole affair.
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Old 15.09.2006, 16:52
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Re: The longest in CH without being good at German? :-(

I know a little German from high school, but does anyone know or intend to learn Swiss-German?
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