7 situations in which you’ll know that you’ve mastered a foreign language

“Sorry, I can’t speak German well, but I’d like to ask…” Some time ago I realized that I had stopped using my favorite phrase, which I used as a crutch in communication when I needed to ask something when shopping or at the post office or during the doctor’s appointment.

And I immodestly admit that I was pretty pleased with this finding. That I took another step forward in learning German. But just as an incurable perfectionist, I know that although it sometimes seems to me that I will take one step forward, the next moment I feel that I have taken two steps back. Because I know I’m still making mistakes and I think that after five years in Switzerland I should be able to speak German much better.

However, I try to convince myself that I am on the right track. And if you still have doubts about yourself when learning a language while living in another country, read the following 7 signs that I’ve been aware of lately. Maybe you will also get to know them and be relieved!

1. You are not afraid to grab your phone and make a phone call

Understand, this is a common thing for someone, but one of the things I shared with you in my recent post, “12 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me,” is that I have a phobia of making phone calls. Really. As soon as I see the incoming call and find out that it is not my husband, but an unknown number, my heart starts pounding and my hands start to sweat. I’m not even talking about dumplings in my throat. No wonder my favorite way of communication is email and messaging on WhatsApp. And this happens, even if someone calls me in my mother tongue.

And then, can you imagine what happens when I have to make a phone call? Well, basically the same thing. And if I have to call somewhere and speak in a foreign language? Again, but to a much greater extent.

But if you already have mold in the cellar that you can’t get rid of, or if the washing machine doesn’t work for a few days, you simply have to grab your phone and make a call.

I guess I need the necessary dose of resentment to forget all my anxieties and strange phobias, and grab the phone, and do what needs to be done. To the delightful finding that both parties understood each other and agreed to solve the problem.

2. When googling something, you enter what you are looking for in a foreign language

I’m not saying that I forget expressions in Czech when living abroad, but sometimes it’s really easier for me to type a compound word in German, or it just pops up earlier in my mind than the Czech one.

3. You can watch sitcoms or stand-up comedians in a foreign language and laugh at jokes because you understand them

How happy I was to laugh Kaya Yanar ´ s stand-ups who can make fun of the Swiss (in a nice way of course) 🙂

4. You will start having dreams in a foreign language

And in that dream you speak a perfectly foreign language, even though in the morning he can’t remember what you were saying in that dream.

5. At the supermarket counter, you don’t need to look at the display to check the cashiers’s words on how much to pay

And you are not looking for the highest value banknote in your wallet and you do not pretend that unfortunately you do not have a smaller one. But you carefully put out small coins on the cash register to get rid of those tiny coins, isn’t a rush, is there? You no longer need to get out of the store like steam over a pot.

6. Your kids will start talking to you in front of friends in a foreign language

Children can be very honest, sometimes ruthless, when they show you that something does not suit you, does not work, and so on. But at the same time, thay can honestly praise you. And the fact that they start speaking to you in front of their friends in a foreign language is, in my opinion, a sign of great trust in you, what do you think?

7. Your Swiss friends suddenly start talking to you in dialect

Because they know that you understand them in standard German, why should they bother themselves with German, which is de facto also a foreign language for them (which they did not learn from an early age, but only with the start of compulsory schooling), when they can speak in the dialect?

In conclusion

I don’t want to brag about that, how confident I’m already in German. I often worry in my head that I can’t express myself in German as easily as in Czech, and again I slip into the self-torturous feelings that I will never learn German fluently. And that I’m actually to blame, because I still watch Czech movies and series, read Czech books and Czech news, and I’m in contact with loved ones thanks to the Internet.

It is also good to know that we will never be able to speak 100% a foreign language. Even in our mother tongue, there are terms that we do not know, because, for example, we do not move in a doctoral or technical environment.

Are you interested in other blog posts with language topics? Here they are:

Living abroad: 5 ways how to learn the language

These 5 simple rules are lifesavers when learning German! I wish I knew of them before!

Bärndütsch – Language guide for beginners

Your kids speak three languages! That´s great! – Oh, really?

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Itzi Herrero E Iriarte
    29.4.2020 11:46

    Ha Hana this is so funny cause i just had the same problems but me i just speak !!!!
    If i don’t know how to say a word in germain i just say it in all the other languages that i speak !!!
    At the beginning i was speaking like a mischmasch of a language!!!
    You know right !!!
    Our lovely excellent teacher Claudia of germain always had to tell me…. no English, Spanish, French, Hollandisch…. only Germain Please…
    Now living nearly 6 years in Switzerland i hear it when i do that and then i correct myself and continue talking only im germain !!!!
    Cause i love talking with people…
    The first year i was so sad here cause i couldn’t talk to the people but now that’s over and therefore i love my life here so much !!
    Languages open frontiers with communications!!!
    Now i do volontairy work in several places with young people, elderly people and i feel so great that at least i make some of those people happy !!!
    And you Hana are doing also such s great job !!!
    Keep it up Hana !!!
    I enjoy and love your blog in English and German
    Itzi 💋💚👍

    • Itzi, you are a real polyglot! I envy you that you can speak so many languages!


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