German language victories at the bakery

I frequent my local bakeries a lot, mostly for bread and sometimes for pastries or pretzels. And, I have a favorite bakery for each of the above. The bakery is probably where my German skills are the strongest, and even still, I struggle.

I was pretty pleased with two recent German interactions, though. I have been seeing half loaves of bread behind the counter, and I finally figured out how to order one instead of the full loaf. “Ein Pain Boulot halb,” I said, making a cutting motion.

The woman thought I wanted the bread sliced, then realized, “Ah, halbes!” We were just learning this kind of “es” ending in class the other day, so it was perfect timing for me to learn the proper application of it in public from the baker.

I was pleased to find out that a half loaf is exactly half the price of a full loaf, so I will probably start to buy half loafs more frequently to always have fresher bread on hand. My favorite bread bakery is open on Sundays, too, so I can get “halbes” loaves every day.

Making a sandwich with my victory half loaf

Yesterday, I bought my new standard half loaf, and when I walked away from the counter, I realized I was shorted a Euro in change. The woman helping me had been distracted, and I don’t think it was intentional, but now I had to try to deal with it in German.

Another woman at the counter asked if she could help me, and this is what my German sentence sounded like to her:

“I want a Euro more. This is 1.20€ (pointing to the bread), and I have 8€ (pointing to my hand).”

Afterward, I realized I need to practice the verb “to need” more, since I overuse the verb “to want.” But, there was a victory here. She understood what had happened and called her colleague over, who promptly gave me my owed Euro. As I walked away, I could feel how far I had come in 6 months. I would have never been able to explain myself like that a few months ago and might have walked away dejected and down a Euro.

I realized that now that I’m going to the bakery more frequently, I will have to speak in German more, too. But, given my recent interactions, it seems like it will be fine. Plus, probably the worst thing that could happen to me is that they could put an extra pastry in my bag.


5 responses to “German language victories at the bakery

  1. Congratulations on your progression speaking German, that has to feel very empowering after executing a successful transaction, especially knowing how far you’ve come since you first moved there. What are you using to supplement your classroom training? Are you still using Pimsleur?

    My work with Pimsleur is going slowly. We are due to leave for our first trip to Germany in a couple of months and I’m getting more nervous as it approaches. I know I won’t be able to carry on meaningful conversations at my level but I am looking forward to trying out some stuff.

    Listening to the Pimsleur CDs while going back and forth to work is fun but it is most rewarding when you are asked to say a fairly long sentence and you get it exactly right. When that happens, I’m pumping my fist, beeping the horn as I cruise down the interstate. What a feeling.

    I found out our company has a branch in Cologne and I’m seriously thinking about asking our owner about working in Germany to have off-hour US support. I have absolutely no idea on the logistics of pulling something like that off, but who knows, life takes you down many paths and it’s up to you to carve out an untraveled course.

    • Besides Pimsleur and my class, I’m really just using real life to supplement. 🙂 I’m trying to do more and more things in German. Sometimes, they work and sometimes, they don’t. If you’re that far along in Pimsleur, I’m sure you’ll do fine while you’re here for your trip. You might want to study food words. In Heidelberg, I’ve never been to a German-style restaurant without an English menu, but it’s nice to see if the translations match up.

  2. My German tutor recently suggested to me to use the Michel Thomas CDs. I haven’t tried them yet, but she says they are very, very good and that she has an elderly lady as a student who uses them and has been improving by leaps and bounds. Since it has you repeating things, you can use them in the car or while doing housework or whatever. I’m going to see if the library has them, but Book Depository has a pretty good price on them.

  3. Pingback: Sí, Oui, Ja: Where am I? | The Traveling Times·

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