Final Exam: Reflection Piece
Over the course of this semester, I believe that I have truly learned a lot. First off, I think that I have developed my understanding of the German language quite a bit over the last few months. For instance, I can speak a lot more fluently than I could before the semester began. I have also improved my usage of clauses and prepositions, and my vocabulary has improved as well. These improvements have allowed me to understand the German language in greater detail.
During this semester, I have also learned a lot about the differences in written and spoken language. For instance, written language is a lot more formal than spoken language. When language is written, all rules of grammar and punctuation are followed. However, when language is spoken, there are times when the official rules of grammar are ignored. In written language, every word is usually written out and the meaning is clear. When someone is speaking, however, they may leave words out, or they may use colloquial words that only certain people understand.
These differences have allowed me to better understand not only German, but English as well. I can now see the differences in written and spoken English, and I can use those differences to my advantage. For example, since I better understand language in general, I am now able to analyze when it is appropriate to use written versus spoken English and vice versa. I also have a better understanding of when to use casual English, and when I should use proper formal English as well. I believe that these bits of knowledge will help me to succeed, not only in my academic career, but in my occupation as well.
I have developed my oral skills in many ways over the semester in both English and German. For instance, I can now speak much more fluently in German. It is now much easier for me to piece together ideas and to convey them through German speech. I can also translate a lot more effectively. I am able to give a much better translation from German to English (and vice versa) than I could before the semester began.
Although I have met with much success, there have been some obstacles along the way. The largest obstacle that I have faced this semester has been German word order. Although I understand the basic word order, I have had some difficulties with it as my sentences grow more complex. I have struggled specifically with putting the verb directly after a preposition when it starts the sentence (i.e. “In Deutschland, habe ich…”).
Another issue that I have had has to do with my ability to speak German in front of others. Although my German is fairly good, I have had trouble speaking with others because I was not yet “comfortable” with the language. I was afraid of messing up and mispronouncing something or using the wrong word. Fortunately, through practice in class, I am now comfortable speaking German with almost anyone.
Throughout this semester, I have met with and overcome many obstacles. Although I have overcome most of the major obstacles that I have encountered, there is still one major thing I must work on. My knowledge of German word order has increased drastically; however, I still have to work on positioning verbs with prepositions. This is something that I know how to do, but in conversation it is easy to forget. The only way that I will get better at it is to practice. Fortunately, I plan on doing a lot of that.
My understanding of cultural concepts has changed for the better this semester. I now understand that even though people are all very similar, we do have many cultural differences. We must learn to live with one another and respect each other’s culture. It is very important to know ones culture, because with that in mind, we may understand the individual a lot better. This will allow us to communicate better with the individual and come to an overall better conclusion.
Over this semester, I have learned a lot about words and translation. Words such as Nacktheit and Transportmittel can easily be translated to nudity and transportation. Unfortunately, not all words are that way. For instance, the word gemuetlich roughly translates to “comfortable” or “pleasant”; however, there is no literal translation for that word.
Even if a word does have a literal translation, it might not carry the same cultural significance from one culture to the next. For instance, the word Nacktheit in German means nudity. For Germans, nudity is a natural part of life and it is not unusual to see people naked in parks or on the beach. With this in mind, the German view on nudity is a generally positive one. In America, things are almost the complete opposite. Nudity never occurs in public and it is thought of as something private or shameful. As you can see, Americans give nudity an overall negative connotation.
With this in mind, you can see that Americans and Germans disagree with each other on the subject of nudity. They disagree with each other due to difference in culture. This cross-cultural difference could lead to an unpleasant misunderstanding between Germans and Americans; however, with patience and understanding Americans and Germans can learn from one another. If they learn about each other’s culture, then misunderstandings based on culture would not be so likely to occur.
The listening skills that I learned from the interviewing stage of the course will help me out a lot in the long run. They will help me in my personal life, because I will be able to communicate better with any future girlfriends or spouses. They say that the most important aspect of a relationship is communication. Since I believe this to be true, I will use the skills that I learned in this class to strengthen my future relationships.
These listening skills will also help me out in my professional life and in dealing with people from different backgrounds. In the professional world, you will often come into contact with people who are different than you. In order to succeed, you must learn to understand these people and cooperate with them. Thanks to my communication skills, I will now be able to succeed in the professional world. I will also be able to communicate with others from different backgrounds successfully.
The knowledge that I have gained from this course is very valuable to me. It has taught me how to communicate with people, regardless of their cultural and personal beliefs. I now know that communicating with people from other cultures or belief groups is not difficult. However, it is very time consuming. Fortunately, it is also very rewarding. All that one must do to communicate with others is simple. You must first learn about a person’s culture and beliefs. Once you have done this, you must patiently learn about that person’s personal thoughts and opinions. In this way, you can come to understand almost anybody extremely well. With this in mind, I have been able to successfully discuss many different things with many different people. All that it really takes is a little patience and understanding.
Germans and Americans are usually appalled at each other’s take on politeness and friendliness. The Americans consider the Germans “rude” and the Germans consider the Americans “superficial”. These stereotypes are brought about by cultural misunderstandings. In order for Germans and Americans to understand each other, they must learn about each other’s culture. Without that knowledge, the two parties cannot hope to understand each other any better. Some issues can be explained quite easily, while others may require full cultural emersion in conjunction with an explanation. For instance, you could explain to a German that the American “Hi, how are you?” is not equivalent to the German “Hallo, wie geht’s dich?” The American “Hi, how are you?” is much more similar to the German “Guten Tag”. This is the case because both “Hi, how are you?” and “Guten Tag” are just simple greetings in which the person responding says little or maybe even nothing at all. Things like friendliness probably cannot be explained as easily and would require full cultural emersion to be understood. If Germans and Americans were all willing to learn about one another, there would be far fewer misunderstandings and the two parties could get along even better than before.