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Tuesday, November 19

mysteries of living in Bavaria, Germany

Whenever I ask a German person if they speak English, the best answer I get is “a little bit” and most often it’s “no”. In those difficult situations when I don’t know the German words, I continue in English, upon hearing their response, I am baffled they say “a little bit.” Because the younger generation speaks much better English than they give themselves credit for. Sadly the older generation refuses to speak English, most of the time. Although I don’t know the precise reasons for this I do have a theory.

In general Germans are perfectionists (throw in efficient in there too since that’s the stereotype). And whether young or old, if asked to speak a language they aren’t fluent in, they don’t feel comfortable. That makes sense however I find it very challenging for someone like myself that doesn’t speak German fluently to be able to communicate with the locals. Although I speak conversational German and am able to get by in most simple conversations, at times, I have questions in English that I want to get answers for (also) in English. Unfortunately for me Germans are also impatient. When I try speaking German, sometimes they lose their patience and I can see it in their body language.

This is a conundrum because they say they only speak a “little bit” of English however I am not perfect in my German so that’s also not good enough, for them. Perfectionism and Impatience do not make for a good combination.

One other thing, Germans are very proud of their culture and people (including language) so they may be apprehensive to speak English; if they agreed to speak anything other than German, they may lose their roots.

When I figure out the best solution, I’ll let you know.

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