Back in November of 2015 you learned that I decided to make this German ad/venture officially official and I signed up for a course with the Goethe-Institut to become certified to teach German as a Foreign Language. I've just completed the third module and corresponding project, which means I'm officially halfway through the course. Three modules down, three modules to go!
Zwischenbilanz literally means a "between balance," or "subtotal," so taking stock of where you are, assessing the past and the future. It's a time when you step back and see clearly where you've been and how that has changed where you're going.
Here's a Zwischenbilanz for you and a few infos on what it's been like to study teaching German.
Life doesn't wait for you to study.
Life most certainly didn't wait for me last year, when I had a several major life events happen all within a few months of one another. Despite my best efforts, it took forever for me to work through the first module. It was really disheartening. However, that all changed when I planned out the remaining modules and put it on my 2017 wall calendar.
Every time I walk into my office, I physically see the plan for this year. I decided that I'd have to give up some (more) social time, some family events, and some free time so I could finish this course by the end of 2017. And it's actually been freeing. It has given my year focus and boosts my self confidence--I'm learning more for this business and for you and I don't have to worry about doing everything all the time. It's a wonderful feeling.
Studying is good work.
I'd almost forgotten how much work it is to really study something challenging. It takes time, it takes concentration, and it takes a lot of mental energy. It's tiring, and I have fairly good technological habits of shutting off distractions, etc. But the key to it all is simply sitting down and opening up the book and studying. Nicht darüber nachdenken, einfach machen!
I've discovered that setting small goals as I proceed through the material is really helpful. (Hey, it's like what I tell my clients!) Each module consists of working through one book that's about 130 pages long and doing a project, which is laid out in the 11-week plan for each module. The chapters are huge and are broken into sub-chapters and then sections within that, which helps me set goals like "I'm going to take a break after I finish this section." Or "I have to get through subchapter XYZ today." The plan is also really useful because I can see at a glance where I am in that week's worth of work and in the overall plan.
Each book also has a suggested study plan, broken down by weeks, so it's easy to see where you are in the overall plan of the module.
Studying in German is hard.
In 2005 I was teaching English as a Foreign Language in Germany and I got my CELTA certification, which is a certification for teaching English as a Foreign Language to adults. So I've learned a lot of this same information before, however the CELTA course was shorter (only one month) and not nearly as in-depth. It was also 100% in English.
Even though I've achieved a C2 level of German, the task of studying academic materials in German is something I hadn't done before, so it's been a new challenge. The first book was the worst, as witnessed by this event: I ran across a sentence that I just couldn't understand so I asked a German friend in Berlin about it. He said, "Well, first, there are simpler ways to say the same thing." Then he translated the difficult sentence into normal German for me. Ah-ha! So it was good information, but the formulation was difficult, even for an educated, native speaker of German. Luckily the second and third books were much easier to read, also because I think it's something you get used to over time.
Each step gets more exciting!
Every step of this course inspires new ideas, ways of working with clients, ways of supporting them and even blog posts. It's been literally creative in that it's created so many new ideas and activities for clients and has connected many, many dots in my mind.
That has also been a fun adventure, as I've noticed several times that I've had an idea percolating in my mind, only to read about it in the course to see there is a term for it, it's a pedagogical element that someone has researched, and then I can read about it and try it out with clients. That's incredibly affirming.
So, there are three more modules and their corresponding projects, then I have to turn in a bunch of papers and take an online test. It's a lot of work, so here I go, zurück an die Arbeit!