My journey to the German language

Stories of success

My journey to the German language

By Fatima Saleh


Before I arrived in Germany three years ago, I had learned English in school and a language class, specifically. Therefore, in the beginning I only spoke English once I was in Germany. I had not expected it to work so well, but it helped me and my family a lot. I was able to put matters in order for my family.

In the accommodation centre in Donaueschingen though, there were no language classes for all the refugees. One day, an afghan woman approached me and asked, whether I wanted to accompany her to the doctor and help her during the examination. “Of course, I’m happy to help.”, I responded. During the examination I was told, that a lot of people still are in need of a translator. So I asked the secretary there, whether I could help as a translator. She replied, “of course, our translator actually just moved away”.

While working there as a translator I learned a lot of German words pertaining to daily life. Working with the doctor I was also able to learn a lot of terms denoting various diseases in German, English and my mother tongue Dari. There was also a doctor who didn’t speak German at all. Thus I learned a substantial amount of German words, but still wasn’t able to speak it properly. After a few months we arrived in Mössingen. There, I asked the local social worker, whether I could assist her as a translator, because of my interest in this kind of work. I attended an open language class as well. In this class, we formed a mixed group of people of all ages with roughly a level of A1. This was quite an intriguing experience, because I learned a lot every day. Though it was stodgy at the same time, due to the group progressing only very slowly.

Since May 2016 I attended school and at the beginning took part for over a year in a preparatory language class with a group totally mixed, with people from all kinds of nationalities and cultures: Kurdish, Syrian, African, Albanian and Afghan. Our only subjects were German, Maths, P.E. and IT – along with Religious education, to further the dialogue between all religions present. In the beginning I was only speaking English, but then my teacher pushed me to speak more German. I was only then, that I started to speak German properly.

After that I enrolled in a two-year program at a technical college for nutrition. For now, my plan is to graduate from secondary school, so that I hopefully can continue with high school. My dream is to work with people from now on, such as children or patients and maybe, one day, study medicine.

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