I have been learning German for a little while now. I started by taking a course last May just once per week. I continued to teach myself – using a mix of Duolingo, Pimsleur and a book, as well as chatting with my lovely (and patient) German-speaking friends in Brussels.
Arriving in Vienna one month ago, I was still a 2-year-old, pre-language “German baby”. It is like when I was learning Spanish and I could understand and write down my thoughts but had trouble expressing my ideas orally. My Spanish teacher explained to me that it was normal, like a baby I could understand Spanish before I could clearly express my ideas in the language. As with Spanish, I am growing up and can now have a decent conversation auf Deutsch (including grammatical mistakes and some English vocabulary, of course).
Learning German has come with some confusion, namely with my Spanish. It seems that Spanish and German share the same compartment in my brain. Unlike English and French, which I have spoken for many years and can switch between with no problem, I learned Spanish and German consciously and more recently. It seems they are someone sharing the same space in my brain and sometimes when I want to speak in Spanish, German words come out, especially with conjunctions and prepositions (“mit” instead of “con”, “ein” instead of “un”…). It is as if I have to turn on a faucet to speak and since German was being used before I turned off this pretend faucet, it exits first (as cold water would if I turned on the hot water just after the cold had been running). It takes some time before the old cold water drains (German) and the Spanish words “flow” once more. Another thing I have noticed is that I am sometimes using German sentence structure in Spanish. For instance, I recently wanted to write this sentence in Spanish, “ Entonces, es posible que debería comprar mi billete también”. At first I wrote out , “also…Entonces es posible dass…que debería también mi billete comprar”… Spanish words with a German sentence structure – sehr komisch!