The Barrier: an unexpected lesson

As a month in Berlin draws to a close, I have come to a realization and my heart goes out to the 32 million adults, 14% of Americans; that’s according to the U.S. Dept. of Eduction, who can’t read. As an educator this number blows my mind!

My family and I have been struggling to learn the German language here, and I understand the frustration of an English Language Learner (ELL) in our school systems along with their parents. Not understanding both the written or the spoken pieces of a language has been frustrating. A feeling of anger mixed with just filling inadequate and stupid. Everything from not being able to order off a menu at a restaurant because their are no pictures to being in the checkout line and the clerk asking you a question and my response is a blank stare, hoping I don’t look as stupid as I feel. As a result, just being here these few short weeks has already changed my perception and patience level as a teacher.

In the future I know can relate to and sympathize with those new to education and new to a culture and language. Going through this process has given me new strategies and an appreciation for the opportunities I have had to grow as a educator. I know in time we will continue to learn phrases and vocabulary. With the technology available with various translation apps as well as apps that teach you simple vocabulary and phases, we’re pretty blessed. Also there are many opportunities for language classes within the area which we are going to take. The opportunity is there and we’ll grow and discover more of the German culture and language. And through all of it, I’ll grow stronger and more passionate about education.



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