mercredi 12 novembre 2008

Meine Stadt heisst Seoul

Why am I spending three hours every Monday evening, learning to speak German? Or rather, learning to speak better German – I already have a bit of a base, but it’s not so good these days.

The question remains unanswered and, as I sat on the métro heading home after the class (at 10pm) I was really questioning my decision. I’m sure that jetlag was playing a part, but I was thoroughly exhausted and certainly too tired to remember the dativ / akkusativ / genetiv rules.

Anyway, let’s hope it gets better. And let’s hope that my language improves too. It’s really not that good. I should have used the two-week intensive language course that I went on last summer to learn to speak German rather than learning to chat up Germans. But hey, warum nicht? After all, any experience is good experience, nein?

In fact, within minutes of the course starting on Monday evening I got quite giddy. Learning German in Paris is quite the thing – I mean really, where else would you be able to learn the expression ‘der Eiffelturm is sehr bekannt’. Clap clap. How exciting.

My giddiness soon subsided as we were put into pairs for, what I thought would be the evening. It turns out that Eva Maria, our lovely teacher (I’m trying hard to look at her face and not the massive sweat patches under her arms) wants us – like swans – to pair up for life. At least for the duration of the course.

So who did I end up with? Chloé, the charming 18 year-old with the Amy Winehouse eyes? Kamal, the handsome and flirty Tunisian (meine Stadt heisst Sousse. Sousse hat eine grosse Stadtmauer)?

Or maybe one of the two sweet-enough-but-very-bookish Frenchmen?

Alas no. I’m partnered with Kwang Min. He’s from Seoul. I think. It’s not so clear. I know he is Korean. At least I hope he is. Calling a Japanese person Korean is never good (but better than the other way round – at least Korea never occupied Japan…)

We have to interrogate each other (yes, the German lady used this very word, much to my delight – I thought she may be bringing out the interrogation lamps, but no). We were to find out more about where we are each from, what our musical tastes are and whether or not we are married.

From what I can gather, Kwang Min isn’t married, is from Korea (he doesn’t like to say South Korea – it’s all one big kim-chee filled love-in as far as he’s concerned), likes ‘techno’ music and studies….erm, something.

Really, his accent is so strong that I have pretty much no idea what he is saying. When I look puzzled at him (i.e. all the time), he tells me the word in French. This is largely pointless as his accent in French is equally impenetrable.

It is only when we have to tell the rest of the class all about our “learning partners” that everyone else finally sees what I have been up against.

Truly, after Kwang Min has spoken to my classmates about me, in German, for three minutes, no-one is any the wiser about my name, age or marital status. They have no idea where I am from or what I do. I can see suppressed giggles on the faces of the girls, and a look of horror on the face of Eva Maria, who has the look of a woman with a challenge on her hands.

I corner EM after the class and ask if I can have a different partner next week.

“That would be no problem” she said, “but it doesn’t work like that. Rules are rules and the rule is that you stay together for the course”.

“Then I may be asking for my money back”

“Again, the rules are the rules. No money back after first class”.

“Then what do you suggest? I’m here to learn German, not Korean.”

“I suggest you work harder”, said she, helpfully. “No-one ever said that learning a language was easy, you know”.

Oh dear. Looks like there’ll be tears before bedtime….and they won’t be mine.

23 commentaires:

softinthehead a dit…

LOL are you sure they won't be yours? It is so frustrating, not to say embarrassing, to have to keep saying "sorry - can you repeat that one more time" - maybe you will be able to communicate on another level? (chuckle)

Louise a dit…

I was laughing silently at this post (because I have no voice, and it seems that's all I can do), but then I read sofinthehead's comment, and sound actually came out! What is wrong with my life that the most amusement I get in a day is here?

"one big kim-chee filled love-in" -- yes, I'm sure most, umm... Koreans, would classify the combination of North and South Korea as such. (That's when the shortness of breath started.)

I really feel badly for you. Really. If it were my child, I would tell them to "try harder," too, but what a pain. It seems to me you've been put in a position of being the teacher.

And how did these partnerships come about? Were they assigned by EM?

aims a dit…

Darling! You didn't tell us that Eva Marie wore a leather outfit and carried a whip and that her shoes might be to die for!

My goodness!

Come over here sweetums. My dear friend who is candy to look at is right from Germany. She'll teach you no problem! I promise! (and she knows some of the cutest young things....)

kukushka a dit…

I hope you don't drop the class, this situation alone will inspire quite a bit of ranting and promises to produce some good reads für mich mittlerweile. BTW, your partner might turn out to be proficient in German writing.. so ask him to write instead! Cheers and best of luck!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Softy, it really looks pretty hopeless from where I'm sat. I'm planning on arriving late next week and sitting somewhere else....

Louise, it's a disaster. We were just told to work with the person next to us and not to move places next week - these were the pairs for the course. Heaven help me....

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Aims, if only she did. She wears dreadful clothes with sweat stains on them. Eeeuk.

I'm going to get your friend to teach me instead - shame she lives so far away, might make every monday evening a bit inconvenient!

Kukushka - I never thought about writing it down. Great idea! Welcome, btw...

cb a dit…

Tell that teacher that if she doesn't help you out, you will be forced to kick her in the "fotze"!

I am jealous that you live in Paris... not jealous of this partner situation.

cb a dit…

oh, and you need to spell for me "lech mich ubers knee du dreikege sow"-- if you even understand what I'm trying to say...

travelling, but not in love a dit…

cb - I'm scared to even use the word fotze in front of her (she's very formidable, in the english not french sense of the word)....and what on earth does your sentence mean? I can only imagine it's a little near the knuckle...;-)

But don't be jealous of Paris, it's always here for you to visit.

That said, it IS a great place to live....he he

Daryl a dit…

See.. (I hope there are no German posting comments here) this is how a war starts ... just do not agree to shower with her ..

:-Daryl

Nico a dit…

This is not right. I wonder if you manage to work your way through the Korean accent. Perhaps Eva Marie chose you as talented enough to do so.. Otherwise the rules are just not right and you have every right to complain.

I wish you could come up with a youtube video of Kwang speaking German. I am curious what the accent sounds like :-) Sometimes they do not pronounce certain letters or sounds at all, just skip them.. or have a totally different intonation.. or pronounce single words as two or three separate words(with German it would be quite natural.. poor Kwang!) It can be fun trying to decipher what they're saying :-)

knifepainter a dit…

You keep clashing with German ladies TBNiL, I'm wondering if you were in the Maquis in a former life ???

wontletlifedefineme a dit…

That is so unfair! I mean, I have nothing against Asian people, but a lot of them are bad at pronouncing foreign languages, and still - you should ideally be practising with a native speaker to learn the language well.

Oh and the trick to German is only three words: klar, genau, stimmt. That's it!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

D, I'm not sure she showers....

Nico, trust me it took almost all the lesson to understand that he studies pee lossopee. Exactly.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

KP - I wish...some of your paintings suggest it may actually have been you though...

Marjolein, I'd love to hear him have a go at Dutch, he he. That'd be perfect. genau so.

conortje a dit…

dearest Travelling you are lookinga t this ALL WRONG - you are effectively getting two language courses for the price of one -you just never know when you will need a spattering of Korean you know...

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Gamsa hamnida, Big C. Gamsa hamnida.

See, I already know some Korean... and I do like the occasional bipimbap.

But maybe I should be more grateful?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

And a spattering of Korean? Like in my face, you mean? That's just rude.

Anthony a dit…

OK, that is too funny. It reminds me of when I studied Thai in Bangkok and I had to converse with my fellow studients who were Indian and Japanese. The Indians, especially made up with enthusiasm what they lacked in skill

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Anthony, here I am pleased with myself for studying german in Paris and you're off studying Thai in bangkok? You win on the exotica front!

And it remains to be seen how enthusiastic my Seoul mate (see what I did there?) ends up being...I'm guessing that Eva Maria will batter every ounce of enthusiasm out of all of us by the third week...

and welcome, btw.

Victor a dit…

"Rules are rules". That's probably all the German you need to learn.

knifepainter a dit…

German ? or in the Maquis ?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Victor, i'm certain that you are right...

KP - either / or !