My home on the web - featuring my real-life persona!

Back to the desk

Boohoo, poor me. All of last week I had been home with a really nasty sinus infection - one of those you just get when you are a kid. At least in my case, I feel that as a kid the flu hit me much harder. I don’t really get “stay in bed” sick too much anymore. On the other hand, when you are a kid the last thing you want is stay in bed - BORING. Anyway, I am back at work and chopping away on the pile of stuff that has accumulated over the last week.

The only good thing about being sick is that you get to catch up on a lot of TV watching, even if you are falling constantly. Yesterday, I actually got to watch The Linguist and it was a light-hearted, interesting documentation. Try to catch a re-run if you are interested in languages!

And on a different note, a new semester session has begun (I am taking accelerated 7 week courses), out with Server Side Scripting, in with GMPT350 Global Project Management and MATH200 Applied Mathematics.

How I learned English :-)

A couple of days ago I caught a rerun of The Golden Girls - and I have to admit, I love the show. First, it is just really funny - Dorothy rocks! The other reason why I like it is because it taught me colloquial English (together with The Cosby Show). Growing up in Germany, almost everything on TV was dubbed, there was almost no way to hear anything in original language, and while I appreciate it for non-English languages, I would have loved to see more TV in English.

Luckily, Cologne was close enough to the Netherlands so we actually were able to receive a couple of Dutch channels. There was too much on that I cared for - I am pretty sure it was public television mostly showing news and Dutch TV shows, but they did air The Golden Girls and The Cosby Shows - and boy am I glad it was those shows. Not only are they fun, I also believe that both use relatively proper and well pronounced English. In addition, they had Dutch subtitles and while I don’t speak Dutch, it often helped to figure out something I didn’t understand.

I was an English major in high school, mostly because I wasn’t able to pick German as my first major but had to pick a foreign language or a science. I picked English because it is pretty much like German class but in a different language. And boy, did I NOT do well. I remember that my teacher Mrs. Hellmund while handing out the graded papers said “You start out nicely but after about a page you are really losing it” to which I replied that I’ll try to stick with one page the next time. My biggest issue was that I tried to construct my English sentences like my German sentences but then I got lost in the grammar. The first page was find because it was just the intro. Once I reached the interpretation part, my brain took off but my language skills did not follow.

Now, on a completely different note, in Germany there are always those people who tell you that you have to watch this movie or read that book in original language and I always think it’s bull. Yeah, if your English is very very good, you may be able to pick up on some nuances that may not have been translated well into German but to be honest, for the vast majority speaking high school English - they lose a lot more information due to the lack of vocabulary than they gain by hearing the original language.

And of course, the recommendation usually comes from someone who is convinced that “he can English very good”. Most of the time, I find this recommendation pompous and condescending and I would never recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a movie for entertainment. Now if someone wants to improve their English, it’s a great idea - worked for me, right?