Too many languages..

..yet it’s only two!

My inability to speak German has found its way into several blogposts before with the most notable one being this one.

Things have somewhat changed since then. A couple of months ago I started a new job in marketing which required me to only speak English with the very occasional checks for things in German. Easily done I thought, yet at the second day the company encountered an acute shortage of German customer service staff and I half offered and was offered to extend my weekly hours to help out with some emails. It’s the first time since 2009 [cafe assistant manager in Germany] that I had to pro actively speak and write German in my professional life.

Initially I didn’t expect it to take much of a toll on my English language skills as reading and writing German for a couple of hours a day in an otherwise English environment really didn’t seem such a big deal. However, as it turns out the other German customer service staff members only speak to each other in German and therefore any conversations I have with them, whether work related or private, also take place in German. Worse still, they all speak colloquially which enhances the fact that my German is stilted and wooden.

It only took a couple of weeks until I noticed the changes. Suddenly I found myself struggling in conversation outside of work, such as at home, and even one of my housemate’s admitted to me that they had never noticed much of a German accent until starting that job which, to the perfectionist that I am, is very frustrating.

Struggling with English is something new and I haven’t found myself in this situation since 2003. It reduces my confidence in myself and my ability to speak the language properly, such as idioms or even sarcasm.

Neither language appears to improve and I’m starting to get used to seeing myself as a blabbering idiot all the time which I don’t think is a good thing.


  1. Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be hard on yourself. I found myself that after speaking Spanish for a long period of time (with friends and family), when I switch back to English, my accent thickens and I fumble with words… This of course, corrects itself in a matter of minutes, but still…

    So, don’t be hard on yourself, and don’t let that affect your self confidence either. :)

  2. Posted June 14, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Great to see you, Juan. I got the email confirmation for your comment, but totally forgot to actually reply!

    And it’s still knocking my confidence, I guess I’d just like to be more English!

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