Friday, April 25, 2008

Teaching AND Translating

On Thursday nights I lead a Bible study in the city of Cologne. The group is made up of people from several different nations and normally we do the meeting entirely in English. That may sound strange to lead a group in English while living in Germany. But there are a number of people here who speak English and it is simpler to lead a group in one language. Occasionally we do have some people who do not speak English at the Bible study so someone translates for me. This group has been going for over two years now and it is always something I look forward to.

Last night was a different meeting than normal. I did my usual part of leading the group and teaching the lesson but I had an extra job to do last night, I was the translator too! This is actually the second time this happened. Last night there were two people at the meeting who did not speak enough English to be able to understand the lesson without translation. The only problem was that no one was present who could translate. One young man in the group volunteered to try to do it but he did have a few moments where he got stuck and so for some of the group I would say something in German and then translate it myself into English. The other time this happened I did the whole thing on my own.

My German language skills are not at the level where I would consider myself a fluent speaker of the language but I can get by and have some conversations with people solely in German. But, translating yourself from German into English is another thing! And because my German is not as good as it could be there were a few funny moments as I mixed up some words or used a completely wrong word and had to have someone else help me out. It certainly made the evening a very interesting and memorable one.

Now, I am by no means trying to drum up sympathy here. I am willing to do whatever it takes to do what I am supposed to do. The first time I did this it was harder because I had never done it before. But, it did work so when faced with the situation the second time I was more prepared to jump in since I had been down the road before. This whole thing motivates me to improve my German language skills more but it also shows the importance of being ready for anything and being willing to do whatever it takes, even if it sometimes means doing double duty.

No comments: