One Step Forward, and Two Steps Back: The Struggles of Learning German

Maybe this should be titled, One Step Forward, and Two Steps Back:  The Struggles of Speaking German instead.  This is a story that Cheyenne has given me permission to share, although she stills feels like she may die of shame and embarrassment after her adventures in Deutschland today.

Cheyenne has been busy taking German lessons again.  She has been plugging along in an intensive course and doing very well.  In general, Cheyenne speaks and understands a great deal of German.  She struggles with the grammar, and also struggles when it comes to testing in this language.  But for the most part, she is able to understand most of what is being said to her, and she can make herself clearly understood……… usually.

Maybe not so much today.

The classroom where her German course is held was being used for something else today.  So, her instructor took the class to a local museum instead.  It was a more casual day, and everyone was chatting and mingling about.  The conversation turned to the current state of the world while looking at an animated map.  The map showed how many countries have had their populations grow significantly due to immigration and   the influx of refugees.  In comparison to other countries, the USA did not show as much population growth.

This embarrassed Cheyenne and she tried to explain her thoughts to her class.  A class made up of immigrants and refugees.

Cheyenne tried to say “This is disgusting, the USA is so large and should be able take more refugees and immigrants!”

However, she missed a few key words in her statement.

The translation came out more like, “This is disgusting, we have so much”.  Which in turn was understood by her class to mean, “We have too many immigrants and refugees”.

Instead of expressing her support of immigrants and refugees she managed alienate herself from her entire class with one sentence.

She panicked, ran to the stairway, and cried.  Then, she called me to say that the class now thinks she is a racist.

Being the supportive mom that I am, I started to laugh.  I also quickly let her know that they don’t think she is a racist, they think she is a white supremacist.  She cried more.

She finally pulled herself together, and rejoined her class.  She attempted to clarify her words again, but doesn’t feel positive that she was clear.

architecture bridge building capital
Photo by Pixabay on

So friends, how many of you have made terrible mistakes in your second language?  Give us some examples to help Cheyenne feel better.


30 thoughts on “One Step Forward, and Two Steps Back: The Struggles of Learning German

  1. Awww!! I want to laugh, but I also feel so bad for her as well! Lol! Well, you can let her know that I’ve put my foot in my mouth many times in English, in an English speaking country… Just by being me.
    I once threw a mini Frisbee at a customer, who turned around when I yelled “heads up!” only for me to then notice he had an eye patch over one eye… The Frisbee hit him in the face..
    Then there was the guy I said “can I give you a hand?” to… Only to then notice he only had one arm.
    Then just recently I said “what can I do for you ladies?”… Only to realise that one of the “ladies” was a man.
    Hope these tales of absolute embarrassment make Cheyenne feel better!! 😂🍻 I’m ok about embarrassing myself if it makes other feel better about themselves!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Such a challenging situation! I never got past high school French and have never tried using it in another country, so have no comparable stories. Could your daughter’s teacher have helped her explain, or did she not want to take things that far?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a casual day, so I am not sure she was even near enough to have heard the comment. I think Cheyenne is probably more worried about causing offense than she need be. More than likely, many of the classmates didn’t even hear let alone understand her. She just realized that her sentence was not right, not everyone probably did…I hope.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, a deep breath and perhaps take a moment before the start of the next class.
        Maybe everyone will see the funny side, and the tutor can show the importance of that grammatical rule?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hahahahaha! Excellent! There are, unfortunately only two series and a couple of Christmas Specials. But there are some blinders, I’m almost jealous that you have never seen them, it’s all ahead of you.

        There were some episodes where I nearly wreaked myself laughing 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Poor Cheyenne! It is sooo frustrating when you want to say something and it gets all jumbled and confused. We’ve all had moments like this when we’re learning. Once she works out how to say it properly, she’ll never forget that. Making mistakes IS the best way to learn.

    My friend wrote a speech in Japan to say in front of her whole school. She didn’t know the word for grown-ups (otona) so she tried to say big human (ookii ningen). What she did say was ookii ninjin, which means big carrot. She basically told a whole room full of kids her plans for when she turned into a big carrot. 😀 That is one of my favourite language mix-up stories. I have sooo many of these.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Awww poor thing, I guess we have all put our foot in it and for the most part it is when we speak our own language!! Good on her for picking herself up and carrying on. Good luck!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, I feel for you, Cheyenne! My second language is French. One day, about 10 years ago, I was in a classy perfume/cosmetic shop in Paris. I wanted some cream for my eye wrinkles. I asked for ‘de la creme pour mes rideaux’. The woman laughed and called across to her colleague and repeated what I had said, in front of all the customers. I had asked for some cream for my curtains! I meant ‘rides’ – wrinkles! Died of embarrassment! I’ve never been back to that shop! 🙂 Chin up, Cheyenne, it won’t be the last time you f*** up! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh no! Poor thing. I am constantly embarrassing myself just with my poor level of German.

    I did embarrass myself with my International women’s group earlier this year. I told a group of mostly Asian ladies that I needed to hangout with the women from The Netherlands more. Before I could explain that it was so I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb as this large fat fair haired person in all the photos compared to all the petite, dark haired Asian Ladies, the looks on their faces said I had put my big fat foot in it. Thankfully they forgave me 😃😃.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Definitely an unfortunate situation, luckily you were there to support her! 😉

    Hopefully they’ll appreciate though that she’s there learning for a reason and it’s not her native language. Definitely tricky applying what you learn to real life situations. My German seems much better when I’m at home in England and not floundering with actual German speakers haha.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Yes, tell me about problems with German! When I remember how much problems I had with communication when I came, first in Austria, then in Germany. And now I have even more problems with learning and understanding Swedish in Stockholm…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.