Lisa Biesinger

Sindelfingen, Germany

The wrong side of middle age, female, married, two adult kids, no grandchildren. Studied cognitive pyschology in my youth, dropped it and emigrated from the USA to Germany. Here, I learned the German language and German culture through interaction rather than formal schooling.

I managed to raise both children to be fairly bi-lingual in German and English by only speaking English to them and my German husband, and providing them with lots and lots of English books and movies.

When it came time to re-enter the workforce, I discovered that German culture demands specific certificates, diplomas and degrees for almost any type of employment. My 35-year old master's in psychology counts for nothing. The content of the field has changed dramatically, and the mere intelligence and stick-to-it-iveness that it takes to acquire one is not regarded as useful in CVs here.

So, I tried my hand as a receptionist in a fascinating little company that produces machines that send time signals between such users as national laboratories, satellites, and space probes. I am not happy answering phones and entering data, so that didn't last. Then I tried my hand at translating for a local high-quality translating office run by an Englishman. He didn't require any certificates, just willingness and ability. During my trial period, we both discovered that going from one language into another is a very special and hard earned skill that I had not yet acquired. I ended up doing the work of a autodidact systems-administrator for someone who didn't want to pay the cost of one with a degree. That didn't last either. I am not good at not arguing with the boss.

Finally, in desperation, I did what everyone had been telling me to do - go teach English. I had always resisted, because it was utterly clear to me that just speaking the language was not enough to teach it. However, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and after a CELTA course and by learning as I go, I have learned enough about the teaching of English to have been able to help any number of Germans improve their spoken English. I work as a free-lancer through a local language-service, and have the real pleasure of meeting automobile-manufacturing research and design engineers and project managers, bankers and bank back-office help, among others. I have just begun working with students at a local college, helping them prepare themselves to take the TOEFL exam, something they must do in order to spend a semester abroad at a foreign university. I have my certificate, I get around, I don't have to take orders, I get to help people who want something I can provide. Life is good :)

I hang out here now and then when I have a question, to learn more.

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