Learning German while living in Germany has its challenges. At the core of immersion is making conversation, from everyday pleasantries to sharing ideas and hopes.
INTEGRATING GERMAN LANGUAGE INTO EVERYDAY LIFE
As with any new skill, spoken conversation takes practice. Classroom exercises facilitate exploration of how “real life” scenarios might play out.
Practicing indirect question with an excerpt from Netzwerk Deutsch als Fremdsprache A2 | © Imogen Thirlwall Vocabulary grows as you learn how to talk about specific topics: leisure activities, food and drink, nature and the environment, and so on. Classroom role-play and every day transactions, such as buying a coffee, offer a reassuring degree of predictability. You can anticipate the type of questions you will be asked and the responses needed.
My final day of class at the Berlin Goethe Institut | © Imogen Thirlwall Just as I was starting to feel mildly confident with transactional conversation, I faced my next challenge. An audition with an interview component, in German, with little idea of what to expect.
INTEGRATING MUSIC INTO CONVERSATION
Up until this point, each audition I had been granted offered an element of English. My first agent audition permitted English for all interactions outside of the audition itself – the registration process, finding a warm-up space, working with a new accompanist. In the audition room, only a little conversational German was required. I was able to give a brief introduction and respond to several simple questions regarding repertoire.
An example of phrases to use before your audition from “What The Fach?!” by Philip Shepard | © Imogen Thirlwall Then came the audition entirely in German. Let me assure you: trying to keep up with listening to a lengthy spoken introduction about a project while disguising sheer panic is not an easy task. And that was before the singing component of the audition had started. Afterwards I would have to face an industry-specific interview. I was not yet prepared to speak confidently about myself, my career and my aspirations. If only they had asked me to talk about a holiday in Scotland.
Taking a holiday in Scotland | © Imogen Thirlwall Thankfully my singing made enough of an impression and I have been invited back for another audition, with another interview, for a panel of six native German speakers -- an uncomfortable push into the territory of spontaneity and making mistakes with strangers: the key ingredients to really start speaking.