“Danke schön” says Callum, earnestly, as the waiter hands him his glass of water. Most of the time, the waiter has noticed that we speak English, and gives the whole family a pleased smile, and better service, because the children have made the effort to learn a few words of German.
So far, our “thank you for children” theory of good service while travelling is working quite well. Not only are we getting good service, the boys are getting more of an idea of another language, even in small doses. They’ve branched out slightly, now, and will also say “Bitte Schön” when appropriate. And Declan even ordered a pizza for dinner tonight (after a few whispered promptings).
Evan and I have been trying to improve our language skills as well, and have been quietly congratulating each other each time we get through an interaction without our interlocutor taking pity on us and speaking English.
I’ve found it interesting how much we have all improved our German in the three weeks we’ve been in German speaking countries. We haven’t made any academic effort (beyond occasionally checking something on google translate at the moment we need it) but we’ve picked up quite a few words, and our ability to have some understanding of what someone might be saying to us has definitely improved. Callum and Declan have enjoyed trying to decode all the signs around them, and have a much better sense of how to sound something out to try and figure out what it might be in English.
And now that we’re starting to get the hang of things, we’re moving on. Tomorrow we’re off to Egypt, where we’ll have not just a new language, but another new alphabet to get used to.
Auf wiedersehen, Deutsch!