Having friends who have the same interests as you can be such a good influence. Peter got a really nice compliment on his Spanish recently from one of his teachers, which, he told me, made him want to go out and get a Spanish workbook to improve even more. That type of positive reinforcement was just the boost he needed to push himself to improve.
I don’t quite work that way, however. People compliment me on my German quite often, but I never believe them. It doesn’t make me want to try harder, because it usually just makes me focus on how much I don’t know and how many mistakes I make, and if they would stop asking me the same questions I get from everyone, they’d realize my German’s not all that great. Let’s just say that I’ve become an expert on talking about where I come from, what I’m doing here, and how hard it is to learn another language. Blah, blah, blah, always the same. (I hate small talk!) So that doesn’t really motivate me, because I’m too much of a perfectionist to accept that type of compliment.
What does motivate me is seeing other Americans or other foreigners who have been here for a little longer than me, perhaps, but who speak German incredibly well. The types of people who have obviously been speaking more German than their native tongue. It’s pretty easy to pick those ones out from a crowd. And when I hear that, I think, “Oh God. I don’t want to be one of those foreigners who has lived here for years and who still can’t speak the language.”
And a little bit of friendly “competition” that Peter and I have always had when it comes to learning languages helps too. This time it’s kind of nice not to compete on the same language, though. :) So thanks, Peter. That was just the motivation I needed. I went and picked out a German grammar workbook at the bookstore and have already done the first few exercises. Tobias has offered his help with any questions I have, and even offered to correct the exercises for me. The answers are in the back of the book, but he’s already been a lot of help with certain little things. I have a good teacher.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some grammar exercises to do! :)
Haha! I couldn’t resist!