Despite multiple apocalyptic predictions, it’s 2013 and we’re still here. Might as well make the best of it, right?
I, for one, had a wonderful Winter break. I visited Freiburg, a small city in southern Germany, and met up with a friend and his family. We had some of the best schnitzel I’ve ever had, as well as a few good regional beers. It was a great time. I spent New Year’s Eve in Madrid and stayed for about a week with another friend of mine, and although I cannot figure out why, I felt very refreshed when I returned to Germany. It could have been the plentiful sun, the siestas, the food, the museums, the good (English) conversation, or the company, but it was probably all of those things conspiring together that have left me in such good spirits.
Unfortunately, the New Year has not left everyone in a good mood. My 13th year students have to take their Abitur, a cumulative test in each of their three areas of focus, and most of them miserably spent their “Winter break” studying. Their Abitur has two sections, written and oral, and the entire month of January is dedicated to the three written tests. In Rheinland-Pfalz, students need only take one oral exam in one of their areas of focus, and that test takes place at the end of February. On the bright side, once these tests are finished, the students have the rest of the semester off – 3 extra months of vacation! I can tell that many of them are restless, and anxious to be done with school, so I’ve been doing my best to help keep them motivated. I get the sense that the English teachers use me as a reward for the students, or as a means to keep the students interested, and that suits me just fine. I have no pedagogic education, and I cannot (yet) teach a lesson and be able to answer question in German, but I have always loved the spontaneous ebb and flow of conversation, and since English is not only a native language but also one of my specialties, I enjoy the challenge of coming up with conversation topics and keeping the conversation going. Not to say that it’s always easy for me to do that, but it is something in which I’m well practiced.
That said, I thought I might share this week’s conversation topic: Dinner for One and New Year’s Eve Traditions. I found out about Dinner for One while browsing a few German websites, and I find it equally strange and hilarious. For those of you who don’t know what it is, which probably includes everyone born in America, England, or Australia, the places where you might expect it to be seen, Dinner for One is a silly, old, British 10-minute gag about an old woman and a progressively drunker butler. The humor is far from complex, and I have to admit that the original isn’t the funniest thing I’ve seen, but for some reason this short program is a New Year’s Eve tradition in Germany, and many other European countries including Sweden, Norway, Denmark. Don’t ask me why an English language program has become a tradition on New Year’s Eve in non-English speaking countries, and not in English speaking countries. I have no idea why. If you want more history about it, the Wikipedia page is pretty good. But what I really must recommend is a parody by Bernd das Brot, a German children’s-television character that I find quite hilarious. I’ve posted the original and Bernd’s parody below for your enjoyment.
Until next time,
Just a note for the Brot version – the English bit begins around 3:00