Monday, March 26, 2012

The three Bs

When visiting Germany, there are three things you definitely have to enjoy: Beer, bratwurst, and bakeries. 
While my mom and Grandma were here last week, we made sure to get our fill of all three! 
Beer is kind of an obvious choice while visiting Germany. But hey, stereotypes and cliches become stereotypes and cliches for a reason, right?
We tried Kölsch while in Cologne and some Altbier while in Düsseldorf. Beer became a staple of all our restaurant experiences. 

Bratwurst was the one of the top priority items on Pam's list of things to relive from her German glory days. And I'd have to say, seeing her face light up like a kid's on Christmas when she got that bratwurst in a brötchen topped with mustard, was definitely worth it (especially to witness the ensuing victory dance). 
 I also made them expand their wurst repertoire and try currywurst! I'd say it was a success.

Finally there were all the bakeries. Trust me when I say we couldn't make a day without our trips to the bakery. I know bakery isn't really up there on the list of German stereotypes with beer and bratwurst. But for anyone who's spent any length of time in this country will tell you that there is nothing anywhere that compares to a German bakery. 
We never came home without our daily picks from the bakery. By the end, our collection was a little out of control, but it was all just so delicious! 
(please note, this picture was taken after we were done chowing down)
So if you ever make it out to Germany, with seals of approval from my mom and grandma, don't forget to try the essential three Bs: Beer, Bratwurst, and Bakeries. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Honey badger don't give a shit

Again, I must begin with an apology for going MIA for so long. But with the visit from my mom and grandma last week, there was no time for such distractions! 
Of course, we did have time for a few other distractions. On the first night of their visit - between games (a lot of this and this were played) we got caught up doing some youtube sharing. I'm not really sure how it started, but eventually we watched the following two videos: 
If you have not seen one or both of these videos, I suggest you watch them right now. If you have already seen them, I suggest you watch them again to enrich your life a little bit more. 

As a result, their entire trip was riddled with responses such as "honey badger don't give a shit," "thanks stupid," and "that's nasty." The week was filled with outbursts of "ALLEN!" and "STEVE!" and "nighttime! daytime!"

If nothing else, that just might give you a bit of an idea about my family and how cool we are, for those of you who had not had the pleasure of meeting them. 

The whole week was so much fun! It was great to get to show my new home to my mom and grandma as well as just be able to spend time with them! There is so much to tell about the week that I don't even know where to begin....

So if you'll allow me one more day to collect my thoughts, I'll begin with the real treasures of the visit tomorrow. Until then, watch, rewatch, and show all your friends those videos [again, as the case may be].

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Very Brief and Not Particularly Helpful German Lesson, Lektüre 3

Today's lesson is over a subject that has plagued speakers of the German language since the dawn of time (or, you know, since the dawn of the German language).

The Article

For those of you not familiar with the different parts of speech, there are two different types of articles: the indefinite article: in English, a/an and the definite article: The. In German, there are also definite and indefinite articles, but we are going to focus only on the former.

In their most basic form, there are 3 definite articles in German:

The feminine 
(pronounced "dee")
The masculine 
(pronounced "dair")
and the neuter
(pronounced "doss")

So there are a couple more than the English the, surely that can't be too hard to keep track of? True, it wouldn't be, if the rules regulating which articles are assigned to which nouns weren't completely arbitrary.

This means when you learn new vocabulary in German, you must also commit the correct article - or gender - to memory.
Luckily, there are a couple tricks to help remember some articles for those of us not lucky enough to grow up with it ingrained in our brains.

As might have already been implied, the gender of a noun can sometimes depend on the actual gender of the subject. For example: man is DER Mann, woman is DIE Frau, boy is DER Junge and girl is DAS Mädchen. Wait... what?! 
Poor girls get the neuter article, but don't feel too bad for them, it has to do with that "chen" on the end of the word and not their actual ambiguous sexuality, but we'll get to that later.

But what about the other 95% of nouns that don't have an actual biological gender to [sometimes] help determine the grammatical gender? Are they all just neutral, like in English when we refer to everything non-human as "it"? No no no, there's no need to make this too simple. But sometimes, just sometimes, parts of a word can give clues to what article it needs.

Let's start with the feminine words:
-all words ending in "-ung," "-heit," "-keit," and "-schaft": DIE Einladung (invitation), DIE Freiheit (freedom), DIE Wirklichkeit (reality), DIE Freundschaft (friendship). I have yet to find an exception, but I'm learning and forgetting and relearning articles everyday.

-Words ending in "-e": DIE Ecke (corner), DIE Grenze (border), DER Name... what, what?! ok, so this one actually has quite a few exceptions (der Deutsche, der Junge, and der Friede, to name a few), but when in doubt, it's a good starting point for a solid guess.

-Words ending in "-ie": DIE Geographie (geography), DIE Industrie (industry), DIE Ironie (irony)
-words ending in "-chen" or "-lein" (in German, these are diminutives, so, theoretically, you can add them to any noun, thereby also changing the gender to neuter): DAS Mädchen (girl), DAS Fräulein (unmarried woman, "Miss" in English).

-words ending in "-o": DAS Auto (car), DAS Konto (account), DAS Radio (radio), DIE Disko... what?!! that's right, more exceptions! Be careful with words such as DIE Avocado or DER Euro.

-words ending in "-ismus": DER Journalismus (journalism), DER Capitalismus (capitalism)

-Days and Months: DER Montag (Monday), DER April (April).

...Are you still with me? Good, we're only just getting started.

Now, there is one more little trick to help simplify things (if that's even possible at this point). German is a language that is all about compound words. One word I've seen pop up again and again with a certain notoriety is this 63 letter monster:


How in the world are you supposed to get an article for that?! well, we could break it down. It's one long word, but it's actually made up of 7 very clear words: 
das Rindfleisch 
die Etikettierung 
die Überwachung
die Aufgaben
die Übertragung
das Gesetz

That's 2 das-words and 5 die-words. Does that mean we go for die since it is the best represented? No, it's actually much simpler. In the case of compound words, the new word takes the gender of the last word-part. Therefore, because of "das Gesetz," we know that it is DAS Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

This trick works about 98% of the time. For example, we have DER Tag (day), from that we can make DER Sonntag (Sunday) or DER Feiertag (holiday) or DER Geburtstag (birthday).

Of course, there's always my favorite exception: DAS Wort (word), DAS Vorwort (preface)... so far so good, until... DIE Antwort (answer). Well, damn.

here's a nice one for you though - the plural article is DIE. 
Always. For every plural word. no matter what the gender of the singular word. But don't get too cozy, this is not the same DIE as the feminine article. "How can you possibly tell the difference, then?" you might possibly be asking. That comes in when we get to the different cases.

No, I'm not going to even try to explain the different cases of the German language (that would take many chapters of a text book...). Just know that there are 4: Nominative, Accusative, Dative, and Genitive.

Take a look at this chart to see what happens to each of our four articles (feminine, masculine, neuter, and plural) when used in each case.
So now our 4 articles have turned into 16. Sure, you see a lot of der's and a few den's, but that doesn't make them the same article. It's always important to know the difference between a dative feminine "der" and a masculine nominative "der." I could explain why, but again with the chapters in texts books thing. So I'm just going to ask you to take my word on this one.

Unfortunately, all the tips in the world can't beat the truest method of learning articles: Memorization. plain and simple.

Whenever my students ask me if I think German is difficult to learn, my go to answer is:
In English, we say "The." In German, you say "der, die, das, die, den, dem, des, die, der, der, das, dem des, die, den, and der."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

sometimes I fall down

Anybody who has ever walked any distance with me (whether a several mile hike or 2 feet) knows that I have issues walking. I stumble over my own feet at least once a day. After so much practice, I'm usually pretty good at catching myself before I fall. Sort of a weebles, wobbles but won't fall down sort of scenario. Unfortunately I'm not always lucky. Sometimes all it takes is an inconveniently placed curb, an particularly uneven cobblestone, a giant cement object, or - as was the case last week - a slippery escalator. 

If I'm lucky, it's only friends around to witness my lack of basic coordination skills. Of course, just ask the 3 crowded UGA bus stops I've wiped out in front of, the likelihood of only friends seeing my fall is slim to none. 

So last week, to initiate Dortmund into the Emily's Greatest Falls hall of fame, I slid my way down an outdoor escalator into a subway station. It was a rainy morning and I was running very late - which result in me actually running for my train to school. I decided to go for the run down the escalator approach instead running down the stairs, for that extra 2 second advantage. And that's where things went awry. 

I had barely taken one step on the slippery rolling steps of death when I felt my foot slide out from under me and fell forward. It was all I could do to grab the railings and catch myself with the my shin to keep from tumbling all the way down. I tried to laugh it off while fighting back the painful sting of embarrassment (and what was surely a battle wound on my leg) to the shocked Germans staring at me in concern. When I got home and was able to assess the damage I found some lovely escalator inflicted gashes. Luckily they're quickly healing, but I have yet to face the escalator of doom since this incident. 
But on a side note: Despite cutting through my skin, absolutely no damage was done to my tights. Therefore, I strongly recommend tights from Primark. Clearly worth the 3€!

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's a known fact that chocolate comes from purple cows

At least if you're living in Germany. 
Milka is one of the most famous brands of chocolate in these parts. And if you've ever had a bar, it's not very hard to understand why! They run a pretty versatile list of standard bars - from my favorite Kuhflecken (literally "cow spots" a mix of milk and white chocolate... like the spots on a cow, get it?!) to Hazelnut (everything in Europe comes in a hazelnut version) to strawberry filling. But Milka also produces a variety of specialty flavors. Sometimes they're limited edition or sometimes you just have to go to the right store to find them. 

Over time I've been able to try some pretty unique flavors, so thought I'd share a few of the most unusual/delicious.

When I first saw the Oreo flavored Milka in September, I immediately turned my nosed up and scoffed. What a silly marketing ploy to get Oreo a little more publicity in this country. There was no way that they would taste a) anything like oreos or b) good.  

Turns out I was vastly incorrect on both accounts. The best comparison I can make is that Milka Oreo tastes like Oreo balls but less sickeningly rich. While the memory of my first bar is all sort of a blissful blur, I'm pretty sure it ended up looking something like this. 
according to me, Knister translates as pop-rocks. That's right, there is a chocolate bar with pop-rocks in it! And it's everything you could hope and so much more! This limited edition Milka birthday celebration flavor is probably my favorite Milka I've ever tried.  In between two layers of milk chocolate is a cake batter flavor filling with pop-rocks sprinkled throughout. So when you take a bite, the flavor literally explodes in your mouth! Unfortunately I only ever saw these treats once, bought the last 3 bars available and have never seen them again. 

Seriously, popcorn flavored chocolate. My first reaction upon seeing this was a big "?!" There was so much curiosity (how could the popcorn not taste stale? how did pouring liquid chocolate over popcorn not destroy the light fluffiness of each popped kernel? Just HOW?!), I had to buy it to find out more. Yet again I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted as if they had taken freshly popped popcorn and placed it safely in the chocolate not to be disturbed or go bad ever. And it was amazing. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

would you like a waffle on a stick?

If your answer is yes, then you are in luck. Just head to the main train station in Dortmund and look for for the Waffel am Stiel (literally means "waffle on a stick") stand right past track 7.
Here, for a mere 60 cents, you can get a deliciously warm waffle with powder sugar on a stick. They're available with a chocolate shell as well, but for some reason that doesn't seem as delicious, so I've never tried it. They're also the perfect size so you feel like you've got enough to enjoy, but not so much that you feel like you shouldn't eat again for a week or anything. It's basically pure happiness to go. 
I mean really, for only 60 cents, how can you say no? I'm not going to lie, they've become a pretty standard part of my trips to the main train station. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

3 generations of awesome

I feel like that title is one for Barney Stinson, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Exactly one week from today, Germany will be rocked by the presence of 3 generations of Gallo/Gauld women. You heard me correctly, world. For my mom, it will be her first return to the Fatherland since her small stint as an expat in the 70s. So for those of you keeping score at home, my mom and I have much more in common than just our good looks...

For my Grandma, this will be her first ever trip outside the US (aside from Canada, but that hardly counts)!

Words cannot describe my excitement - Germany is not going to know what hit it

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I could read 6th grade ESL writing everyday.

While my 5th graders were getting crafty for the big Leap Year holiday, I put my 6th graders to a little more work. We talked about the last Leap Year in 2008 and everything that has changed since then. Then we collected ideas for what might be different by the next leap year. Eventually I had them write letters to themselves on the next Leap Day

I left the assignment pretty loose. I told them they could ask questions about how life had changed or they could tell about their life now, whatever they might want to ask or say to themselves in 4 years. And the results were pretty amazing!

I decided to share some of my favorite letters with you guys, but before we get to that, I feel the need for a little disclaimer:

I'm NOT posting these to make fun of the students in anyway. If anything, I was overall really impressed with the letters. The cutest part, on the whole, were the things they decided to talk about, and not the language mistakes. While the mistakes may enhance the adorableness of the letters, you have to remember that these kids are 11 and 12 years old and have been learning English for just over 1 year. If you had asked me to write a letter like this after 1 year of learning German. Well, I'm not sure it would have even been understandable. Also, I currently spend my life speaking a foreign language on a regular basis. And I make a lot of mistakes. So I know just as well as the next guy, what it's like to try to learn a new language. 

Also, my roommate is keeping a running list of the ridiculous things I say in German, so I feel like that's a freebie for keeping a list of my own. 
Dear Ewa,
My life is cool I'm in the class 6c. It's the year 2012. My favori fafourite favorite food is Pizza, Chips and Vanille Milch Shake. I do not like vagetable soup. My favorite song is, I can't dance, the got we one we got away, eagy of the glory. I haven't a boyfriend.

Dear Fabian,
How are you?
I'm fine. I found the world is good in my time, but how is it in your time. I play handball and chess and I play piano too. How is it, to live? Can cars fly? Is Dortmund german cup winner? Text me back with the answers! Whats your hobbies.
Love, Fabian

Dear Anika,
i'am 12 in 2012. I like purple, grey, black and peace. I love my family and my friends. I don't like spinach. I have a dog. I have brown haars. My Hobbys are skating, drawing, meeting friends, play football, sport, ice-skating and...
Love Anika

Dear my self,
I have got some questions?
How tall will i bee?
Wil i have a drivers license?
How old will i be?
In witsh class will i be?
Can cars fly in 2016?
Love, Simon

Dear Linus,
How old are you? I'm 11
Do you play football? I play football by SC Husen-Hurl
Do you have a appartment? I haven't a appartment because I'm 11. 
I'm leaving in Husen, you?

Dear Marcel in 2016, 
Today I'm twelve and I'm in clas six. I play in the U12 of BVB. My favorite film is today Hangover. What is your favorite Film today and are you play still Football? Do you now still Tobias and your old team in the U12?
Love, Marcel in 2012

Dear Simon,
In this moment I was 2012, how old are you? I am played football, you? I am had very good Noten. Write you good Noten? I am had thyrty-three hours in the school, how much have you? I am live in Dortmund, you too? My best friends are Linus, Felix and Malte and you? Good luck!
Love, Simon

Not gonna lie, my absolute favorite line in the bunch is "I haven't a appartment because I'm 11." Kids are awesome. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Important vocabulary for quadrennial holidays

Last week for Leap Day, my 5th graders and I made some origami Leaping Frogs. I don't remember when or why I learned how to make origami frogs - just that I've been doing it for forever. It was sort of my school version of a party trick. So, when the opportunity arose, I decided to put my useless talents to... well, use. 

I thought they turned out pretty great. Though I have to say, I was a little surprised they all chose green paper. I figured we'd have some blue or red or pink frogs. But at least now, on one day every 4 years, they just might remember some unique English vocabulary!

Monday, March 5, 2012

frOOt lOOps

Before we get started here, can I just say that I never realized Fruit Loops is actually spelled "Froot Loops." As a current teacher of the English language, I have to say I'm a little disappointed in the mass-spreading of bad spelling (of course, let's not bring all my spelling errors into this argument). 

When I was in high school I basically lived off cereal. Just ask my parents - who often reminded me that I could not eat cereal for 3 meals a day. However, somewhere between UGA dining halls and grocery shopping in foreign countries, I stopped the addiction. But last week, while buying food, I felt inspired to go back to my old ways and picked up a box of Fruit Loops. 

I didn't even make it all the way home before noticing the first difference from American cereal. The cereal over here is multilingual. Every word on the box could be found in German, French, Finnish and Swedish. 
Even the game on the back (my favorite part of cereal as a child) came with instructions in all 4 languages. Seriously, if I had grown up with multilingual cereal, I would have abandoned the cereal box games for learning how to say useful phrases like "made with natural coloring and flavors" in as many languages as possible. 
The second difference I noticed immediately as I poured the cereal. Instead of the neon array colors in American Fruit Loops, German Fruit Loops consist of only 3 very "natural" looking colors. It gave me the impression of a sort of organic, hippy version of Fruit Loops (wow, I feel like an angry, old woman calling something "hippy"). 
The final difference was in the taste. As the coloring may have lead you to believe - the German Fruit Loops also had a much more natural taste. All in all, they were good, but I have to say, it kind of made me miss my 90% sugar, potentially toxic American Fruit Loops. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

9 things

Oh hey! I'm back after an unexpected 2 week blogging hiatus (ok, I had 1 post in the last 12 days, but that hardly counts). I guess I wasn't busy by any normal standards, but between getting used to a new class schedule and watching a whole lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, blogging just fell to the back burner. So what's been going on in the last couple weeks? 
Honestly, not too much. But in the coming week or so you can look forward to reading about a few of these things that did happen (and are about to happen soon!):

leap year frogs from my 5th graders || battle scars from my latest fight against the sidewalk || awesome letters from 6th graders
Some uniquely delicious Milka flavors || Waffles on a stick || German Fruit Loops
3 Generations of Gallo/Gauld women || all 7 seasons of Buffy || My favorite brother

Friday, March 2, 2012

why Karneval really is the German Halloween.

I know I've compared Karneval to Halloween in the past because of the whole tradition of wearing costumes. Well, after finally experience Karnival first hand, I can safely say that - aside from happening all day instead of only first when the sun goes down - I stand wholeheartedly by my original assertion. 

See there is this parade (ok, not exactly Halloweeny, but bear with me). By the time we got there at 1pm the parade had already started on the far side of the city. It was supposed to go until 2:30 pm, so we tried to find a place among the masses to get a good view. This proved much more difficult than expected, and we ended up finding a good view that was unfortunately very removed from the actual parade. 
After a good while of enjoying the parade from this vantage point, we decided to head down into the crowds, expecting the parade to end shortly anyway.

Little did we know this was apparently a never-ending parade. I don't know where the city of Cologne's website got it's information, but this parade did not end at 2:30. In fact, it was still going strong when worked our way up to the front lines around 4pm. And that's where things got exciting (and here comes the Halloween-ish part).

The candy. Oh the candy. I know people throw candy at parades in the US, but this was like that on steroids. I'm talking entire chocolate bars, even complete boxes of chocolate. Not just thrown here and there into the crowd but seriously continuously chucked among the masses. If you looked away for 1 second you were at risk of chocolate to the face - trust me, that's how I caught a few of my pieces. And it wasn't just candy. The occasional stuffed animal was tossed in, and all kinds of individual flowers. I was pretty proud of my catches. And the people living in the buildings with windows facing the parade found a pretty ingenious method for collecting the goods.

I also loved that even the Policemen across from us were stocking up on the goods.

We stood there for at least an hour watch the parade - the floats, the marching bands, the costumes - catching candy, and just enjoying the whole atmosphere.

Finally, the parade that was supposed to end at 2:30  drew to an end around 7. And as we headed back to the train station that night - in costume, with bags full of candy collected throughout the day - I couldn't help but smile for finally having the Halloween that I'd missed for the past 2 years!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...