I speak fluently two languages – English and Filipino, I have two native dialects, Cebuano and Ilongo, from each of my parents’ side, I learned two more dialects when I grew up. When I went abroad, I learned yet another language just enough to survive. And then I married a Filipino-German who speaks only English and German. Communicating with him isn’t a problem, but joining him in his country is.
Don’t think I’m a linguist because I’m not. That’s basically the reason why processing for a family reunion visa for Germany leaves me tensed and feeling pressured.
One of the requirements for a residence permit for family reunion for spouses in Germany is proof of German knowledge. I must earn a certification for Start Deutsch 1 – Level A1 from an institution teaching and testing German according to the standards of the “Association of Language Testers in Europe” (ALTE).
After our wedding in December 2010, I immediately enrolled for course 1 Deutsch. Since I’m working during the week, I took the weekend classes, half day every Sunday. I completed the course in 10 weekends, that’s about three months.
I thought I learned enough that I went and took a schedule for the test but only to be horrified when I found out afterwards that what I’ve learned from course 1 is only 35% of the entire coverage of the test. I need to complete three more courses. That means nine more months!
I don’t have enough time. My working visa in Bangkok is relative to my working contract and it’s finishing in three months. I’m unlikely to extend my contract because I can’t bear to live another year away from my husband. An intensive 4 weeks German course isn’t even an option because classes are on weekdays.
My test schedule is April 25, that gives me 25 days left to prepare. There’s really no other option right now but to self-learn. I have the resources that I need – books, CDs, online websites and they actually suffice. But the biggest hurdle is boredom.
Learning grammar and memorizing doesn’t really appeal to me. That’s basically the reason why I chose to major Mathematics over English when my first passion is literary writing. I couldn’t stand grammar lectures. But here I am, gotta learn Grammatik!
I think that learning German is easier than learning Thai. Most of German words are similar to English only they’re spelled and pronounced differently. But generally, I can quickly identify what the words mean by comparing them with their English words counterparts. Unlike in Thai, the words are tonal and one word gets different meaning depending on how you raise your voice. Until now, when I order chicken, I still get an egg or vice versa just because of how I say “Kay” or “kai”. Let’s not even talk about Thai script to spare us from headaches!
The most challenging about learning German however is memorizing the articles for nouns. In English we use common articles such as a and the. In German, every noun gets a unique article der, das, die, ein, eine and don’t even dare to ask what’s the rule and when to use them. There’s no rule, just memorize them! So if we’re talking about food and you want the German for banana, you say die Banane, for Apple – der Apfel, for bread – das Brot. Wonder when to use die, der, das? The answer is, just like that.
Will I pass the test? Will I get the visa on time? I’ll give you an update in 25 days. If I do pass, then that gives me the right to write the article “Tips on passing the Deutsch 1 – Level A1 so you can be with your spouse in Germany!”
But in case I don’t pass, there’s still another way for me to get the visa. I’ll ask my hubby to speed up and make me pregnant. When the baby is soon due, the German embassy is then forced to issue me a visa. But I don’t really think that’s a good idea. Moving to a new territory, meeting his friends and relatives with a bloated tummy isn’t really sexy. But I’ll let you know.