the life of a foreign language assistant

Speaks flawless* German to the cashier at the supermarket.

She responds in English.

— the story of an American in Germany (or maybe just the biography of my life).

I have been teaching in Lichtenstein, Germany for almost two months now and it has honestly been a truly amazing experience. Don’t get me wrong. There have definitely been struggles along the way, but the positive experiences far outweigh the negative. 

Monday through Thursday, I generally wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 AM to start getting ready to head to school. Three of those days, I walk across town to Gymnasium Prof. Dr. Max Schneider (basically the equivalent of an American high school + grades 7 and 8) and give lessons on topics from “The American School System” to “Election 2016: Trump vs. Clinton.” Rather than working with simply one classroom, I assist with English classes from grades 7 to 12 and see on average three classes a day.

After dragging my tired self across town before the sun is even awake, sometimes seems like a chore (I am not a morning person at all), but then a student will come up after a lesson and tell me that they really enjoyed the topic and that really makes it all worth it.

On Wednesdays, rather than teaching at the Gymnasium, I head to Grundschule Zschocken (grades 1 – 4) and assist with classes. There is never a dull moment with the young kids and we manage to have a lot of fun! The kids always seem so happy to see me there and eagerly greet me “Hallo Herr Lauderback!” when I arrive. Sometimes I even go out to the playground with the kids and play games like soccer and hopscotch. Last week, I taught a lesson on Halloween to classes 3 and 4. We played a hotly contested game of Halloween-themed Pictionary and I handed out candy to all the little trick-or-treaters.

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On Monday and Wednesday evenings, I take a German course in Zwickau. One of my goals for the year is to really become fluent (or close to) in German, so my hope is that the course can really improve the catastrophe that is my grammar.

Speaking of German, I can actually feel my vocabulary improving–which is really exciting! Not drastically enhanced overnight or anything, but I will find myself using new words that I haven’t even studied, that I just picked up from daily life. I also picked up my official German residence permit the other day–I’m becoming more and more German by the minute!

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Though a lot of my free-time recently has been filled with tedious graduate school applications, I have managed to have a bit of fun as well. I recently went to a professional German soccer game (FC Erzgebirge Aue vs. FC Union Berlin) with a fellow teacher and her friends–we had an great time! Plus, I have some trips planned for the coming months and am really looking forward to exploring some new cities! And who can forget German Christmas Markets, which should be popping up soon!

Furthermore, I am considering sitting in on some of the Russian lessons at the school to start learning that language, but haven’t decided if trying to learn a third language at the moment would negatively affect my German skills. I also hope to find a way to be more involved with the community. Whether through local volunteer work or after-school programs, I’m not sure, but my goal is to be active in more than just teaching English.

Life in Lichtenstein has been an adventure these past two months and I can’t wait to see what these next eight months have in store for me!

(Stay tuned: I am hoping to talk about German food, music, and culture in my next posts!)

 

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