Doing it properly

We recently talked about the word hat-trick in this blog. Now it turns out that a German hat-trick is different from an English hat-trick! What does all of that have to do with the colours yellow and black and the German school system? Here’s what you shouldn’t die not knowing…

Okay, this one is about football – again! No, I wouldn’t classify myself as a football aficionada, but I’m married to a proper football nerd and because I care dearly about him, I’m at least what psychologists would call ‘enabling’ – if not downright co-dependent.

Here’s a fun fact, though: when you’re an interpreter (or translator), ANYTHING in your working languages is research. Watching Netflix in English is CPD. How cool is that! Analogously, when you blog about culture, ANYTHING is culture. Of course, football is proper culture anyway. Definitely. In Britain and in Germany.

So, all you culture lovers, here’s what I picked up on the football grapevine this month: German Erste Bundesliga football club Borussia Dortmund (club colours: yellow and black – wink, wink!) just bought Norwegian goal wizard Erling Braut Haaland from Salzburg. (Remember, the transfer window!) In his debut match, Haaland scored a whopping 3 goals in 23 minutes, which was referred to on the BBC Sports website as ‘a stunning 23-minute debut hat-trick’. So far so impressive.

Then, further along in the text, the BBC asks ‘Not a proper hat-trick?!’, referring to a BBC Radio 5 interview of German football pundit Raphael Honigstein, who explained, ‘In Germany, for some reason, we don’t consider this a proper hat-trick. It needs to be in one half but also nobody scoring in between. We are so German we don’t consider it a hat-trick.’ Whaaat?

‘Do it properly, please!’ Oh dear, not a very generous attitude. So, someone achieves a remarkable thing, and the Germans crush it by saying ‘Not according to our definition!’

This phenomenon also occurs in other realms. In Germany, university degrees from other countries are a nightmare to get recognised or approved. Basically, you would need to study all over again to be able to qualify for many jobs in Germany. The Bologna Process? Never heard of it.

Here are two examples from my social group. My English husband’s teaching degree (PGCE) is not recognised in the German school system because in a German Lehramtsstudium, you must study two subjects. If he wanted to be paid like a German teacher in the State system, he would first have to study another subject at a German university (plus some pedagogy classes, as the British ones don’t count).

Mind you, because of an abysmal lack of staff, schools in North-Rhine Westphalia every so often open up the opportunity for people to teach as a non-trained teacher (Quereinsteiger). They would rather have children be taught by someone with no clue about teaching than by a qualified teacher from another country.

The second example is just as ludicrous. You need to know that the quality of English taught at German schools can be poor through no fault of the staff’s own but due to a lack of exposure to the relevant culture. When you study to be a teacher in Germany, you study language and literature purely in theory. A stay abroad is not only not scheduled in the curriculum, but it is made unbelievably difficult if not borderline impossible by academic regulations.

One of our friends had the personal tenacity to study in England for one semester and had to organise everything himself, including battling the exam board about recognising his credits. He almost gave up several times. The fact that he didn’t not only helped him and his language skills to develop but paved the way for a marriage – but that’s a different story.

The Pommes Buddha says: Spaghetti Bolo – nur von Mutti!

Listen to this text as a podcast episode:

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