People often ask me “Do you think in German?” – a way perhaps to gauge how ‘fluent’ I really am. The Think German Network offers a new answer to this question. Its slogan is: think german: you already speak it. If this seems unlikely let me try to convince you, with the help of a very eminent supporter of all things German.
At the recent launch of the Think German Network, held in the Locarno Room at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, the Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor opened by sharing some of the ways in which we all already think and speak German. He mentioned some everyday words and phrases which are, in fact, originally German. My personal favourites include: Schadenfreude; Doppelgänger; Wanderlust. Of course, over time every learner of German also encounters many intriguing words which have no real English counterpart: Kaffeeklatsch and Gemütlichkeit for starters. Perhaps as you read this others are coming to mind…
Other speakers at the event included Dr Peter Ammon, German Ambassador to London, and Professor Katrin Kohl, Director of the Oxford German Network. Guests were then given a whistle-stop tour of the nine German Networks across the UK, and some of their recent successes and upcoming events. Oxford was represented by the OGN Coordinators and members of the Faculty (pictured), and the event provided a very grand forum to meet other guests ranging from Ambassadors and Attachés to representatives of German industry and cultural institutions.
With the launch of the Think German Network a new web portal is now live… Do take a look! And remember, think german: you already speak it.
Welcome to the Oxford German Network blog! We’re Zoë and Imran, and we’re both first year students of German in Oxford. In this blog we and other Student Ambassadors for the Oxford German Network are looking forward to sharing some of our enthusiasm for the German language and culture as well as communicating with people who are interested in German, particularly prospective German students, in a relaxed and informal way. Hopefully we can give you an insight into what it’s like to study German at university, get stuck in to German, Austrian and Swiss culture, and encourage you to develop your Germanic interests.
I started learning German in Year 7 – I remember my favourite lessons were those when our teacher brought in German food for us: Lebkuchen, Stollen, that kind of thing. Then, in Year 10, I went on a German exchange, which was so much fun. There was even more food – Dampfnudeln, Marmorkuchen and the incredible Eierlikör – and we visited some beautiful towns – Heidelberg, Speyer, Karlsruhe… I knew that I definitely wanted to visit Germany again in the future, but it was only when I was in Sixth Form that I considered doing German at degree level. And here I am! So far the course has been challenging, but I am so glad that I chose German – I have learnt so much already, from studying plays such as Georg Kaiser’s ‘Von morgens bis mitternachts’, to films, to medieval German literature (in our most recent medieval class we had Glühwein, which was pretty exciting). Of particular interest to me is the way in which the style of writing has changed over time, and also how you can learn a lot about contemporary society from the literature of the past and present.
On top of a general interest in language learning, I chose to study German because of the huge range of fields that a degree in German covers – so far this year we’ve already covered a vast array of topics, from film to medieval studies. It’s been brilliant to discuss all sorts of things in tutorials – politics, gender, spiritual regeneration… The list goes on! This term we’ve been focusing on four German plays for our tutorials and as the main basis for our translations from German into English. There are aspects of all four of the plays that you might miss the first time round, but which you really start to notice when re-reading and focusing on individual extracts of each work. Through studying the plays I’ve really come to appreciate theatre a lot more, and especially the immense amount of thought behind each work; you really do come to realise the extreme intelligence behind writing. Once more, it is the versatility of the literature that has appealed to me. Literature can be studied in its own right and as a fantastic source for other aspects of study, such as the portrayal of past societies, which has been particularly striking to me.
Thanks for reading, and we’re looking forward to telling you more about our experiences of studying and of our involvement with Oxford German Network events as the year goes on!