Author Archives: Luisa Barbosa

Happy Ending

I am facing again the magic of the end. Every time some type of ending stands in my way, I start remembering all the past situations that inevitably led to one big finale. I can not avoid it, the completion of whatever period or project makes me feel nostalgic, makes me think and analyse backwards my behaviour, my acting, my own thinking.

Today it is my closure of these series of varied entries about Deutsch, Deutschland, die Deutschen and me as an interpreter. And for this happy ending, I would like to share this one idea I had some months ago that took me to create a multi-language-and-faces-video. The idea was simple: So many stereotypes are created all over the world about how ugly the German sounds that I think it deserves a chance to show its prettiness (or at least its normality). So I looked for people from different regions, different cultures, different hair colour and, most importantly, different languages, and I mixed them all together into one same phrase and one same lens.

The result, a successfully bearable short video (see link below), that strokes our eardrums with musical intonations from all around the world and amuse our eyes with colours and multiculturalism.

 La musicalidad de los idiomas / The musicality of languages

Class better

Talking about multiculturalism, my classmates of the Universität Bonn

Just for all of us not to lose faith on our learning skills, and on the friendliness of the Sprache we keep hardly trying to learn.

Tschüss!

Punkt.

Schönes Wochenende: Teil 2

Berlin is such a big city. Although it has one quarter of Paris‘ population, it is nine times bigger than the French capital. That’s the reason why you can find almost whatever you want in Berlin. The experience of spending a month in this capital full of history and peculiar places constitutes a topic to share.

What amazes me the most is how easily people fall in love with the city. For me, it is interesting how particularly strange some places look to me. Maybe it is just because of lack of habit. I can perceive that these last phrases are ambiguous and could be barely interpreted if I don’t try harder. Let’s just make an example:

Once upon a time there was one Colombia girl in Berlin. She was going with her boyfriend to a nice swimming pool, built over the river, that happened to become a club when the daylight was gone. Already amazed by this description, on her way to the pool this Colombian girl bump into a curious green field filled with giant benches, with abandoned buses and cars mixing with nature. This field looked to her eyes like a world of giants.

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Something like that is what I was meaning.

Let’s get serious. In Berlin there are so many things to do (as I already say, Oh! God! What a repetitive girl), What I would undoubtedly recommend is to jump into history. If you don’t like museums, then find one of those walking or biking tours around the city. Besides working out your body, you will get to know so many stories and historical facts that explains most of the city’s ways.

Apart form that, I would recommend extensive walking with the eyes properly opened. Also, a pic-nic or a beer next to one of the canals sounds awesome (or, even better, if you have a blowing boat, then a trip trough the canals would be fantastic. My unrealized wish). And, taking advantage of your German lessons and all what you learn in every day class, intensive talking and smiling sounds like the perfect complement ;).

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The canal by Graefstrasse

DSCN0636And human interaction! :)

Schönes Wochenende: Teil 1

The weekend is here again and that always pushes the mood up. Specially when the weather forecast promises that the sun will be shining (or better say: flashing) during the day.

Because of that I would like to talk about one of my favourite places in Berlin: Tempelhof. This abandoned airport stopped functioning on the 31st of October of 2008, after consequent years of financial loss. In May 2010, the empty field was inaugurated as the biggest public park in Berlin, and it was called Tempelhofer feld.

Nowadays, it is a relaxing space where people go with BBQs, pic-nics, frisbees, balls, skateboards, bicycles (even kite-surfs) to spend the late afternoon and enjoy one of the best sunset sights of the city (in my opinion!). Even more remarkable, there is a space destined as gardens, where the citizens could (some time ago, but not anymore) sow they own crops inside cozy plots with hand-made wood „furniture“. You can freely access to all of them, and enjoy a beer in the middle of the crops facing a sky painted of red.

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 Pic-nic with some friends in Tempelhofer feld under a magnificent sky.

Welche Musik hörst du gerne?

The music different countries listen is a really good approximation to the type of behaviours the inhabitants have. And because I like music and it is also a nice way of learning some new words and understanding some cultural tendencies, today I want to talk about it.

I am the most traditional Colombian you can ever meet. My skin has goose bumps every time I listen to the folkloric rhythms. There is nothing better to my ears than the sound of a „marimba“ clicking with the „tamboras“ in one „currulao„. There is nothing better for my feet than the vibration when a „salsa“ is playing. I am one „traditional“ Latin girl, that loves dancing, and prefer round movements than square ones.

However, if that’s what I want for my daily life, I AM IN THE WRONG PLACE. So many times I’ve tried playing some reggeatton (thinking that it is not that aggressive with the foreigners) in the middle of the party, and that equal number of many times I have seen everyone running away from the dancing spot. I have seen every non-colombian jumping into the sofas and staying there until the danger has gone. And because of that I have been trying to adapt myself. Since the electronic is not at all for me, I have found some really cool reggae-dancehall group that fulfils my requisites.

Today, I want to share one of my favourite German groups, that in addition help me with some vocabulary after extensive repetition and memorizing.

Coincidentally from Berlin: Seeed in Aufstehn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6JYzOjglBs) or in Augenbling with the first high-speed sentence that I learn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qttGJ3il62Yo)

Enjoy! while I keep trying others to enter into my dancing-mood.

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 Inviting people to join! ;)

Ein Märchen

If the internet is not making fool of me the word for fairy tale in German is Märchen.

Honouring the name of the Grimm brothers -which should be honoured here more than in everywhere else, since they were born in the land of Hanau, east of Frankfurt am Main- and trying to find an alternative way of making my ears used to the German pronunciation, I taught about listening to fairy tails. And in this search, I came into Rapunzel. These complex, nice, tragic-romance story of this girl with really long, gold, beautiful and extremely resistant hair trapped into a high tower.

Although by now I have been finding it hard to understand, the „story-teller“ intonation catches your attention. I can keep listening up to one hour to the narrator and imaging in which part of the story he is by the few words I understand.

My goal is to listen to it one, two, hundred times if necessary! And when I finally understand „every-single-word“ I will come back and scream it out loud!

Check it out, and let your imagination fly at the rhythm of the German.

 „Rapunzel, Rapunzel, lass dein Haar herunter!“
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDEAQtJfzoo&list=PL84094E4B4AB4F329

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Talking about fairy tales and castles…
last November in Schloss Drachenburg, Königswinter

ps. Ah! And for the record, Rapunzel is the common name of some sort of plant that looks like a lettuce (and that apparently can composed a „lecker“ salad)

Party… or not?

Well well, the weekend is almost over and I am pretty sure most of us will need to wake up early in the morning and head towards some responsibilities (named Language school, work, study). That’s why I want to give a last chance to the fun of the weekend to make an appearance.

As far as I know, Berlin has a big reputation in the „party-sector“. I have heard dozens of people talking about the unending, intense parties that the big city offers. Apart from the [disgusting] idea that most of the renowned clubs play minimal the whole night (what directly goes into the opposite direction of my Latin-rhythms-dancing-spirit), I was wanting to try and been able to talk by my own. However, most nights the enthusiasm had gone down when hearing that the line was of around 1 hour, or inconceivable statements like that.

Some days ago, finally we carried on with the plan and went directly into the queue. My group was composed by 5 foreigners, me being the only female representation. And when we arrived to the very first position, the guy controlling the entrance waved his head horizontally… and a cruel negation slapped our faces. Why? I have no idea. The horror of the Clubs‘ selection had became true and our plan had been abruptly interrupted by external opinions.

Still I feel confused when I think about this selective process. However, there is always a good part behind every apparently bad situation. Just at the end of the line, the entrance to an outdoor-sandy-bar appeared as a rescuer. On top of that, an inflatable castle was standing in front of our eyes, inviting everyone to return to their 6 years of age.

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Back to childhood. My group of „rejectedS“ in the castle.

Instead of getting crazy with minimal style, we became children again and jumped inside the castle until the body got too warm and needed a refreshing drink (I am not talking about beer here…dirty minds), and so the night turned out to be unexpectedly nicer.

(I haven’t been into a Berliner club, though — suggestions would be happily received)

Slowly but surely, like a turtle

At this point of my life I am starting to feel ashamed when someone asks me whether if I am able to speak German and for how long I have been here. Those two questions together create and answer that has no COHERENCE at all. That’s when the shame starts sweating from my skin pores.

The truth is that no one better than me knows how difficult is to learn German when everyone around you can easily speak English, and when -furthermore!- expressing in English is a challenge by itself. So today I would like to share my story (taught in my head infinite times as an excuse for every time I got the two questions mentioned).

I came to Germany without knowing a word of German. I could barely say „Hallo“. Since the very beginning I realize how hard it was going to really introduce myself into the city’s life without speaking the language. In spite of all my wishes, the first semester I couldn’t take a German course, and so the English kept developing and the German stayed straggler in a corner of my learning brain circuitry. After 6 months (much more than should have been), I had just learned some words from the daily life, but since I didn’t even get how the sentences were supposed to be built I was terrified of trying. I didn’t feel confident at all, so I didn’t try (HUGE MISTAKE). My very first class of German started in April, after seven months living in Germany were already gone.

DSCN7866My very first day in Germany and the big surprise
of finding what is called: „Ein Hochbett

My enthusiasm have not diminished since that point. Actually, every day I feel like I am more motivated. And, although my pace has been really slow, like a turtle, I can always reach the finish line with a surprise (like in the kids‘ story: http://childhoodreading.com/?p=3). I maintain my motivation really looking forward to it.

Back to troubles…

I had already listed the four trickier points in the learning of German. The declinations already got all their fame and detailed sentences were formed in homage to them. Today, I better talk about another point: The pronunciation. And since I want to make it understandable, I will switch to Spanish so I can properly try to put sounds into words.

Otro de mis enemigos en el aprendizaje del alemán tiene cara femenina y se le conoce como pronunciación. Sin contar el gran número de sonidos nuevos que tiene este idioma y que no existen en español, al existir palabras tan largas surge arrogante la imperdible oportunidad de tener todos los sonidos juntos en un solo lugar. “R”s pronunciadas como con un salivazo (sinónimo que me contó el diccionario y encontré más decente para publicación) atorado en la garganta al estilo del francés. “CH”s pronunciadas como un rugido de tigre, pero menos agresivo. “SCH”s como un “shhh” para ordenar hacer silencio, pero sin estirar los labios y sí manteniéndolos abiertos. “Z”s como una ts como cuando uno se molesta y dice: “tsssss, que tal ese…”. “A”s que parecen “E”s, “O”s que parecen “U” pero con cara de “I”s. “S”s y “V”s que obligan a vibrar las cuerdas vocales, la lengua, los labios, que por fortuna logré dominar previamente para el portugués y que al menos me liberan un peso. Por fortuna, a diferencia de cuando se habla francés (que también tiene una pronunciación difícil para mí, pobre hispanohablante) el alemán no es extremadamente exigente en este punto, de forma que aún pronunciando mal hay una alta probabilidad de ser entendido.

My final word for those who cannot read Spanish: it is ok, German seems not to be that picky with the understanding of bad-pronounced-words. Just untangle your tongue and keep trying.

DSCN0165Untangling! :P
(in Alexander Platz with Vic)

 

The meaning of: Mit Spaß zum Erfolg

In every learning experience the motivation is a crucial factor. What about those courses in the University that thought really interesting topics catching all your attention and led you to study as if you were playing a videogame (or reading a novel, or something not academically related). The trick is in the motivation, at least for me.

So that’s why today I am talking about this slogan: Mit Spaß um Erfolg (With fun to success). Fun is one of the thousand factors that can gate interest and therefore motivation. And as I say, nothing else is that important when learning, and especially when you are learning a language, that it is not going to have a final grade and affect your GPA.

When I was studying Portuguese (and also English, but let’s focus on my favorite one) I was surprised on how my teacher’s teaching technique was so effective. I was always excited about going to class, to do my homework… and so on. And for me the secret was on the dynamic of the course, it felt more like a friendly environment than like a strict formal class. So I studied Portuguese with all my motivation and excitation, and manage to develop pretty good skills.

With this course I have had the same feeling. I had already done my A1 course in Bonn, but the class was big, and the dynamism was pretty slow (boring I could say). We never got to play a game, or do “theater”. And although I was motivated, the reasons that drove me to the course where coming from the outside rather than form the course by itself. Here, the days I liked the most where those in the last week, when we were just “applying” in a funny and dynamic way what we had learned during the 3 weeks before. So we were interacting with little presentations, games and –most important- tons of laugh and making the learning of the German language more a pleasure than an obligation.

DSCN9992Proud of our presentation of Die Zeitung

If you ask me, is in this teaching method where the secret to success lies.

Oh, oh… the magic of the end.

Today was my last day of course. Most of my classmates (ah! and I need to say that at the end we were just 6… don’t know what happened with the rest in the way) are going back home this weekend, me also. So, for ending this wunderbar month with a highlight (in Colombia we say, „cerrar con broche de oro“), we did one hour exam (what other than that could be a highlight? No, seriously, I mean it! ) and then went out to the sun and have kind of a home-brought brunch.

DSCN0382 (2)Does not look as a professional brunch?

At the end people get nostalgic. You start thinking about all the cool things you could have done but you didn’t. About all the German you could have studied at home, all the tandems you could have done (are you aware of tandems? if not, check it out!), all the activities you could have proposed to your classmates… all what you could have… but you didn’t. That’s the crude reality. And that’s why at the end people get nostalgic. And then you say good-bye with a long speech trying to state how much you liked all in spite of never expressing it.

Today was our last day of course. A pretty enriching one in my opinion. After one month, our teacher is stolz and we feel like we are a little bit closer to this difficult goal of learning German.

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The survivors. Hand clapping for all us. We made it!
Although there is a longer way until the real goal…

Don’t worry (that’s more like self-consoling words). I’ll still be around here for a while. Bringing back the recent memories of my experience, and the reality of the days out-of-class.