Interview on mastering German (in German)



Summary in English


Kety Chuntishvili is a 20-year-old from Tbilisi, Georgia, and is currently studying music in Hannover. Kety began studying German at the Goethe Institute in Tbilisi at the age of 12. At first she just did her assignments without any enthusiasm, but at 14 something "clicked" for her. She developed a dream of studying singing in Hannover, Germany, which is exactly what she's doing today (I interviewed her in Tbilisi when she was back to visit her family). After she fell in love with the language and culture at 14 she began studying German with great enthusiasm, reading books in German on her own initiative. She would read aloud at home, bothering her family at times. She made extensive notes and would look up words in the dictionary and later review her notes frequently, assimilating perhaps 80% of the new vocabulary.

Despite all this work, it was only when she began attending the Tbilisi Language Exchange Club at age 18 that she began speaking German on a regular basis. It was there that we first met. Kety feels the language club was instrumental in helping her mastery along, which makes me proud. She already spoke the language well with superb pronunciation, but after her first year of studies in Germany she is noticeably more fluent and speaks practically without an accent, making few errors of grammar and usage.

After the interview Kety added that, in addition to reading out loud to train her pronunciation, she watched German TV and listened to songs in German and learned the words. Now she doesn't have TV at home, but often watches Youtube videos made by young Germans to hear how the speak and what they talk about.

Kety is not working so hard on the language these days, but she says (post-interview) that she speaks German about 4-5 hours per day. Incidentally, she lives with a girl from Belarus whom she speaks Russian with. Kety enjoys improving her Russian and has recently taken up Italian, but she does not expect to achieve the same degree of fluency that she has in German, because she truly fell in love with the German language. She sees her future in Germany using German. I asked her if she had anything against Georgia, since this may be a factor in motivating a language learner to achieve near-native mastery of another language. Kety admits she doesn't like many things she sees and hears in Georgia and that she appreciates that things are very different in Germany. If there are things she doesn't like about Germany, she doesn't pay much attention to them.

Some idioms and expressions (and, I would presume, cultural references) remain a challenge for Kety. She has an explanatory dictionary of idioms that she uses, but this will be a long process.

For comparison, my level of German is perhaps a high B2, and I speak the language perhaps one hour a week on average. Kety is already approaching D1 ("near native"). For me German is just a hobby language, but I have the same "total mastery mindset" as Kety with regards to another language — Russian. That gives us a basis for comparing experiences and approaches. 

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