i had the pleasure of speaking this morning with someone who either couldn't or flat out refused to speak english with me, for a good few hours. it was pretty awesome. but now looking back on it, some elements are floating to the surface concerning how i comport myself while using the german language.
first off- i'm not very verbal. this is obviously due to a lack of confidence in using the language casually and, probably more than i'd like to admit, due to a lack of vocabulary. so i say very little. i answer questions, often haltingly, often requesting that the question be repeated. sometimes i ask questions but definitely less frequently than i would if i were having a conversation in english.
i have to listen very, very actively. i have to try to hear, comprehend and analyse each word as it's said, then synthesize the words and rearrange them to fit my english-thinking schema. all in a matter of seconds. then, also in a matter of seconds, i have to form a response, using words the way i THINK they're supposed to be used (i'm often wrong) and at the same time i have to attempt the proper pronunciation of these words as well. i have to try to speak at a seemingly normal pace, which is nothing close to the pace of my english conversations.
most importantly, i have to try really hard. i have a hard enough time in english getting my point across or expressing myself. in another language it's basically torture. and it's really hard to be funny. at least, intentionally.
but all this is part of the process i'm sure. despite the fact my formal education in german might well be over, i don't think i'll ever stop learning (trying to learn) german. i find the language itself too fascinating to give up, and i have too many amazing friends of the german persuasion that i'll always want to keep in my life who will motivate me to want to communicate better with them in their own language.