I am officially a mute German frau

If frau is even the right word. I wouldn’t know because I don’t speak any freaking German.

You know how you think you know something, like German, because your kids watched the BBC German “Muzzy” video fourteen times? How that should make you proficient enough to recognize basic German, since German and English are practically the same language? I mean, we all come from Adam and Eve, the Spirit will fill in the blanks, right?

Not so much.

We have the greatest landlords on the planet. They’re mid-fifties, they make sure the house is in pristine condition at all times, and they absolutely adore our children.

Gerta is probably the nicest lady in Germany. Seriously, “dote” doesn’t even come close to describing how good they’ve been to our kids this past week. Yesterday (move in day) we showed up and there they were with super nice presents for all the kids just because. And they have single-handedly set up and escorted us to meetings with the preschool and village elementary schools so I could meet the teachers for Rex and June.

And they don’t speak a word of English.

Trying to talk to Gerta is possibly the most stupidifying thing I have ever experienced. Honestly, she talks so slowly for me and points and gesticulates and all I hear is this voice in my head screaming, “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE SAYING!! QUICK, SMILE AND NOD AND SAY “YAH” SO SHE WON’T KNOW HOW STUPID WE REALLY ARE!”

And so I do. Smile and nod like the single-lingoed bobble head that I am.

And the whole “fake it till you make it” line? I have the feeling that I can only say, “Guten tag!” so many times before they figure out that no, I really don’t speak any German. At all.

Who knows what I’ve agreed to thus far? For all I know we’ve invited them over for Christmas, or offered to trade our kids for the house.

There has got to be a way for me to learn this language. Oh why does it have to sound so…foreign?

(I have to add that when she speaks to Rex in German, he counts back to her in Spanish.)




  1. Though German and English are related, they are different. I served my mission in Germany, though I forgotten a lot of the language. I love Germany, I wish I could move there for a few years. I wonder if there are any online classes or maybe that rosetta stone progam. Just say to your landlords “Ich spreche kein Deutsch.” (“I do not speak English.”) Good Luck!

  2. I think it’s time for Rosetta Stone. And more pictures on your blog.

  3. Spanish? I love it. My favorite part of this whole entry.

  4. Play Pictionary!! Or, not. Um, does the base have a library? If so, they should have Rosetta Stone language software and if you can get on base, you can most likely get a library card to borrow the German volume. Maybe. I don’t know how it works overseas, though. That software is p-r-i-c-e-y but the best I’ve used to learn a language. Maybe it will help you ask her about a castle to visit this weekend? Maybe?

  5. I love that Rex counts back to her in Spanish! How awesome is that! She probably loves it you know. My son was born in Germany and ALL, I repeat ALL of the women over the age of 35 fawned on him & every other baby they saw. It was stinking awesome!

    The base/fort/post will have some German language classes & they teach them all of the time. Shoot, my neighbor who was French & fluent in German & English too used to speak to us in German & our landlord in English. It was lol. And honestly? They probably know you don’t speak the language. The fact that you will try is what will make them love you forever as if your kids weren’t enough already. Also, the written word is MUCH easier to understand than the spoken.

  6. I wanted to cry just reading about your first experiences, they are so like mine. Living overseas makes me feel like an idiot for at least half of the time. The other half I am just clueless to everything.

    We are up by a town called Altenglan (Muhlbach), go to Glan-Munchweiler and go up the yellow road (at least it is yellow on my map).

    FYI, my 4year old is terrible in the car and I’ve started taking away evening treats to see if it helps his behavior…it doesn’t.

    Hope to meet you.

  7. Ahh, Muzzy is so deceptive! The USO and ACS on base will be offering classes likely starting right after school begins, but the ones I’ve heard the best reviews on are the Volkschules, or adult community education classes. I’m sure your wonderful landlady will help you hunt them down if you just say that word. Down here, they have two options – a month long M-F 8am-12 class w/ free childcare or a four month two evening a week class, costs ~ 165euro. If you want to get as near to fluent and comfy, it’s your best bet. I sooo wish I’d known of them two years ago when I wanted to take a class. One month of the day class covers 4 mos of evening class material – it’s intense but IMMERSION – and in one month chunks. So decide what kind of language experience you want and can handle studying. USO and ACS are great to get cultural questions answered, but you don’t walk away with near as much as you wish you did. If you’re looking for a 30 min daily podcast – a friend let me try her Pimsleur program and it is really good. It’s a listen and repeat type program and my kids even got into it (in 10 min doses). I like how it is phrase / conversation based. Good luck!!!

  8. Here’s hoping that you’ll be laughing about all this soon enough! I remember when Mark had me go to the German Post Office all by myself to buy a stamp. I thought I knew enough German (I’d had 101 and 102) and I froze when the guy at the counter asked me a question in German. Felt like an idiot… but now I can laugh. Just laugh, a lot. Maybe they’ll think you’re crazy and just leave you alone! :)!!!

  9. Stephanie says:

    This definitely sounds like an adventure. Your post about the car tantrums was pretty funny…I am curious to know how the dancing outside of the car works, I would think that it would! You have to post pics of your home there, I’m curious about how it looks, your neighborhood, etc. I hope you enjoy your time there. What a great experience for all of you and really, in the scheme of things, it will feel like a blink, right? 🙂