Also, ein Jahr ist vergangen. Habe ich es tun? Bin ich fließend Deutsch? That’s a good question. And I will try to answer it. But first, I want to re-iterate my original goal which was “conversational fluency”. Typically this is considered to be a high B1 to a B2. During this wide, fuzzily defined phase of learning, conversational fluency starts to take shape. I am going to lay out a few of my personal requirements and see how I did:
1. I wanted to be able to express myself in the spoken language with another speaker of German. By express myself, I mean be ale to discuss my hobbies, my life, my family, current events, and anything else that I would normally talk to people (friends or strangers) about on a daily basis.
2. I wanted my spoken interaction to be relatively in line with a fluent speaker’s pace, prosody, and accent.
3. I wanted to be able to understand spoken German at a normal speed by a fluent speaker about the same types of things that I listed in #1 above.
4. I wanted to be able to read and write to a certain degree, but my primary focus was on speaking.
How did I do?
1. Nailed it (mostly). I can pretty much discuss anything outside of specialized fields (eg: science, gardening, politics, etc). Fortunately, I don’t talk about any of those specialized things much in English, so I’m fine not being able to discuss them in German. Vocabulary is not really an issue here. I still make some grammatical errors, but I am getting better everyday and will continue to with practice.
2. Kind of. My pace is a little slow when talking but it is improving. My prosody is pretty noticeably non-native level but it doesn’t seem to interfere with my being understood. My accent is decent but not great. I’ve actually been told that I have kind of a French accent when speaking German which I guess is better than an American accent.
3. This is one of my weaker spots. I struggle to keep up with a lengthy dialog from a fluent speaker. Shorter sentences or a slower pace help me a lot but I have a tendency to get lost (“Wie, bitte?”) in some full speed interactions. This will come with practice.
4. Nailed it. I am a decent reader and writer in German and have no complaints about my abilities in either.
My big test.
My big test is going to come in 2 weeks when I go to a German speaking Meetup group. I’ve been putting this off for Months and the time has come to finally sink or swim. I will post my findings after that as well as (hopefully) my one year video.