Tag Archives: Education

“Dropping Trow” – My German Wife Destroys yet Another Classic Phrase from American Slang


“Oh, you need to ‘use the restroom’? I’m sorry, but we only speak AMERICAN in this house.” — Image Credit: Joseph Choi (https://www.flickr.com/photos/josephers/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Edited for contrast.

Not only am I an American graphic designer, but I am also a professional writer, blogger and editor. Reading is my absolute favorite hobby, and when it comes to the English language, my tastes are both widespread and discerning. Therefore, you might reasonably assume I would refrain from all things linguistically crude or lowbrow, but you would be very wrong: I swear like a motherfucker.

Not only do I swear, but I use a remarkable amount of slang too: vulgar phrases, nonsensical jargon and stylistic idioms are all frequent aspects of my everyday speech. This might make me an amusing conversationalist for some, but it plays hell with my German wife’s ongoing education in the English language.

Let’s say I need to use the restroom for the specific purpose of evacuating my bowels. I won’t just saunter away quietly and do my business like a normal person. No, I will loudly announce my intentions to my wife in a manner which maximizes their vulgarity. For example, I might run down the staircase screaming, “Oh sweet Jesus, I gotta take a shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…” or “Outta the way, sweetheart; I’m about to blast hot lava all up in this bitch,” or “Mother of God, my puckering anus can no longer contain the vile spirits within!”

And then there are the old classic sayings, like “drop a deuce,” “lose some weight,” or “lay some pipe.” I like to use these every once in a while just to keep things classy. So the other week, I kept saying to my wife, “I gotta drop trow” — also spelled “trou” — which refers to the act of preparing to defecate by dropping one’s pants around the ankles. (Note: In America, we call them “pants,” but those dandies in the UK call them “trousers.”) Anyway, after hearing me use this expression enough times, it finally crept into my wife’s vocabulary, resulting in her emerging from the bathroom one day and proudly announcing:

I dropped my trout!


“Nailed it.” — Image Credit: Bugeater (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bugeaters/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License. Cropped from original.


Why American Expats Like Me Should NEVER Become English Teachers in Germany

Bad Teacher

“Do you have a learning disability? Because you should just KNOW this shit.” — Image Credit: Patrick Bell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/druidicparadise/) – Subject to CC 2.0 License.

As I’ve said many times before, my wife is German and she is a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany. As such, she teaches two primary academic subjects, but she is also required to conduct elective classes. These classes are usually fun things, like arts and crafts, sports or cooking. (But not beer drinking. I checked.)

Not long ago, my wife was tasked with teaching an elective baking class to a bunch of snot-nosed 8th graders. They were going to make a Black Forest Cake, also known as a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Now, I don’t know why, but my wife wanted the recipe to be in English, so she downloaded one from the internet — which had clearly been translated from German into English — and asked me to proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes.

What I found was an absolute clusterfuck of linguistic crimes, any one of which would — in an ideal world — warrant death by hanging. (Followed by the deceased author’s body being dragged through the streets and beaten with rubber mallets, then thrown into a pit of acid-spitting vipers which reduce the corpse to rendered lard, thereby enabling it to be molded into tiny, adorable birthday candles.)

Below is the Black Forest Cake recipe from the internet, complete with my edits indicated in red. ***WARNING*** Contains swearing and one rather graphic illustration. (Click image to enlarge.)

German and English Language Editing - Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) Funny Recipe Corrections


Look, if the situation were reversed and I had to write this cake recipe in German, I would fail so hard I would have to throw myself off a cliff. Still, I cannot excuse such heinous linguistic crimes. This is why I must award this recipe with a despicable 1 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany

Would you be a good English teacher? Have you ever had a particularly good or bad language teacher? We’d love to hear all about your experience in the comments section below…

Graphic Designer in Portland, Oregon and Hannover, Germany - Grafikdesigner Illustrator Copywriter

Ungrateful Little Sh*ts: What It’s Like to Plan a Field Trip for Teenage Students in Hannover, Germany

German teenagers (teens in germany)

“Wooohooo! I am the center of the universe!” — Image Credit: Philipp (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mapled/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

As you are probably aware, my wife is German. She is also a Gymnasium teacher here in Hannover, Germany. This means she teaches students between the ages of 10 and 18 — or 5th grade through 12th. That’s a lot of teenagers, man, and if you’re anything like me, you know teenagers are a bunch of filthy, disgusting little shitbags.

Yes, there are exceptions. If you have a teenager at home, I’m sure he or she is a perfect little angel who burps love and farts rainbows. But the rest of them are 100% self-focused, with underdeveloped personalities and little or no regard for those around them. And they stink. God dammit, how hard is it to slap a little Old Spice under them pits, Dieter von Reekenstein? Mother of God, I would rather dip my nuts in hot coffee than be trapped on the U-Bahn amidst a gaggle of these screeching retards.

Luckily, my wife does not regard her students with the same kind of vehement hatred I do. She loves her students, and she’s a damn good teacher. That said, even she stumbles across the occasional moment of annoyance. Like the other day, when she was trying to organize a field trip for her 8th grade class; she offered to take them to one of the museums here in Hannover, or even the incredibly awesome Hannover Adventure Zoo. The field trip wasn’t part of the class — she just offered her own free time in order to do something fun and educational with them. And like the ungrateful 13-year-old balls of snot they are, they insisted on going to Hamburg instead. Not even, “Thank you for the idea, but we would really love to see the Port of Hamburg,” or “Would it be possible to tour Hamburg’s Old Town instead?” They were just like, “We’d rather go to Hamburg.” Period.

So my wife came home that night and explained the situation to me. She took a sip of wine, shook her head in exasperation and said:

“I tell you, you give them your little finger, and they take your whole hand.”

Graphic Designer in Portland, Oregon and Hannover, Germany - Grafikdesigner Illustrator Copywriter

My German Wife Deals with Referendariat Rage (AKA: Teacher Training Tantrums)


“Honey, it’s gonna be okay. Please don’t spin your head around 360 degrees and blow vomit in my face.” — Photo Credit: Katie Tegtmeyer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/katietegtmeyer/) — Image subject to CC 2.0 license

Back in the spring of 2013, my wife was still a Gymnasium Referendariat teacher (like a clerkship position, or “teacher training”), which meant she was working her sweet ass off making lesson plans for high school students, teaching classes, writing papers and sitting through mind-numbing seminars — all without the guarantee she would even have a job when it was all over. As an outsider, I must say the Referendariat program seems designed specifically to eliminate the weak-willed and insufficiently motivated teachers of tomorrow.

This makes a certain amount of sense though; they have to cull the herd because teaching positions in Germany are highly sought-after. You get sweet benefits and earn a nice salary, and if you’re working in a state which offers it, you can attain “verbeamtet” status, which is the American equivalent to tenure. On top of all this, the job itself is highly respected. (Unlike in the States, where we regard our high school teachers like social workers sacrificing their health and happiness in a vain attempt to dissuade young, blossoming criminals. “You’re a high school teacher? I’m so sorry. I mean, that is just so good of you…”)

But the Referendariat program is harsh, man. The teachers in training report to senior-level teachers within their chosen subjects, typically two, but sometimes three people who have been working for a few decades and decided they want to earn a little more money while they crush an aspiring teacher’s dreams. If the teachers you’re reporting to are complete assholes, guess what? You’re in Fucksville! And the stress levels are just insane. In my wife’s group — which consisted of about 25 other teachers in training — panic attacks were commonplace, and some had complete physical and psychological meltdowns. Like, where they had to go to the emergency room thinking they were having a heart attack, or spend the night in the psych ward because they had a nervous breakdown. I’m not kidding. One teacher just straight blacked out and stopped responding during her final exam. It was crazy.

But my wife — bless her German soul — never really lost her shit. Sure, she was super tired, stressed out and pissed off from time to time, but she was a real trooper about it. There was one thing she could not abide, however, and that was receiving contradictory instructions from the senior teachers. One would tell her to be louder and more effusive, and another would tell her to be quieter and more conservative. This pissed her right the hell off, until one day she came home, dropped her jacket and said:

“I should get a gym membership. I want to punch a bag.”

If you would like to read another Denglish post during my wife’s time as a Referendariat, check this one out: My German Wife Offers a Simple Solution to the Problem of Clothing vs. Closet Space



My German Wife Is Grateful for the Opportunity to Teach Older Students


“Thank goodness I got that second master’s degree! Now, don’t poke your eyes out, Dieter.” — Photo by Gerry Thomasen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerrythomasen/)

My wife is a Gymnasium teacher here in Germany, which means she has the training and education to teach high school students — not the little smelly ones who stick raisins up their noses. And Gymnasium teachers don’t just teach 5th through 12th graders; they teach the ones who show real academic promise. Get this: if you aren’t smart enough to go to a Gymnasium, you aren’t allowed to attend a university after graduation. You have to go to a trade school and learn how to repair cars for all the uppity nerds who got better grades than you. Can you imagine? I like to think of a young German man — let’s call him Horst — slaving away beneath some fancy BMW. He’s fixing it the best he can, turning the cranks and tightening the screws, when a shot of oil hits him in the eye like the money shot in a porno. That’s the moment when Fancypants Schillinger, the former high school valedictorian, strolls into the auto shop:

FANCYPANTS: “Well hello there, Horst! I haven’t seen you since you flunked out of our Gymnasium! What have you been up to?”

HORST: “Fixing your car, obviously.”

FANCYPANTS: “Hah hah, good ol’ Horst. Remember how popular you were in school? How you went to all the parties and chased all the girls? I used to be so envious…”

HORST: *Jabbing his hand into the toolbox* “Yup..”

FANCYPANTS: “But then you flunked one too many classes and wound up in a Hauptschule with all the other knuckle draggers. I bet that was a real trip to the zoo, wasn’t it? Hah hah!

… and that’s how Horst wound up serving life in prison for beating a nerd to death with a monkeywrench.

Anyway, my point is the German educational system — while highly effective — can be a tad elitist. You can imagine why a smart, well-educated Gymnasium teacher might not relish the idea of teaching little kids, especially little American kids. But that’s exactly what my wife did back in 2012, when she spent a year in the United States at a primary school. She did this on a J1 work visa in order to give us the chance to live together as a couple. It was a sacrifice on her part, and I respect the hell out of her for making it. I had to laugh, however, when she was about to leave the States and begin her job as a full-blown Gymnasium teacher in Germany, explaining to me (with no small amount of relief ) how old her future students would be:

THE WIFE: “They are older. I will have 5th through 12th graders. They are not thigh-biters.”*

*3 seconds later: “… I mean ankle-biters.”

10 Easy Steps to Become the Worst God Damned German Language Teacher on the Planet

diverse classroom gradeschool 6th graders

“Put your hands down, idiots. I don’t even care.” — Photo by http://www.audio-luci-store.it (http://www.flickr.com/photos/audiolucistore/)

I am an American expat living in Germany. I have taken a few German classes — including an intensive A1 German integration course — so I have experienced several different types of language teachers. I’ve had phenomenal ones and average ones. Wonderfully gifted teachers and disenchanted wash-ups. Inspiring educators and mind-numbing hacks who have no business standing in front of a classroom. Today, I would like to speak directly to all of the German teachers out there who fall into this last category.

Dear Shitbird,

Would you like to make sure your students are confused and drooling by the end of every class? Do you want to ensure the next wave of expatriates join the workforce as mumbling illiterates? Have you ever wanted to smash somebody’s attempts to learn your mother tongue just to watch their linguistic hopes wither and die like an orchid watered exclusively with table salt and battery acid?

Well, you’re in luck! With an amalgamation of all my shitty German teachers in mind, I’ve constructed the list below to help guide ambitious young educators on the path to becoming the absolute worst teachers on the face of this spinning blue ball we call Earth.

  1. Take absolutely NO joy in your work. Oh ho ho! Don’t get too excited if front of your class. If your students suspect you might actually be enjoying the learning process, you’re sure to lose their respect. Remember: These people are animals. Open displays of energy or enthusiasm will be rewarded with teeth gnashing and poo flinging.
  2. Speak super fast all the time. You gotta keep those students on their toes! And you definitely want to make sure to speak at light speed when a student asks a question. After all, if your answer doesn’t inflict greater confusion than the uppity little shit had before, you just aren’t doing your job.
  3. Never use complete sentences. When introducing a new concept or set of linguistic rules, just point wildly and write single words on the blackboard. Shaking your head or nodding in silence are also effective teaching methods of communication. Who has time to explain things thoroughly? And besides, your students can’t possibly understand you anyway; these dim bulbs come from other countries. Filthy countries.
  4. Encourage shouting matches. How else are you going to find out who the best student is? The loudest, most obnoxious son of a bitch in class is obviously the most gifted, and deserves to be rewarded with all of your attention. Quiet students are weak; they should be left behind as food for the larger animals.
  5. Never take turns speaking. Asking students to actually try and speak the language in an orderly fashion will destroy any chance you have of creative a shouting match (see step #4). If you give each student equal attention, you might accidentally figure out who needs extra help with the language, and nobody likes a downer.
  6. Avoid games at all costs. If you’ve been thinking about incorporating games or activities into your lessons, stop right there: Nothing engages students like asking them to get off their dead asses and do something fun. Your students should have that blank, thousand-yard stare at all times. If you notice the light coming back on in their eyes, you may be giving them false hope, and that’s just irresponsible.
  7. Repetition serves no purpose. If your students don’t get a lesson the first time around, fuck ’em. Obviously they weren’t paying attention. Saying the same things over and over again is boring — especially for you, the teacher — and anybody who asks you to repeat yourself probably rides the short bus to class anyway.
  8. Make sure your students have side conversations. If some of your students are talking loudly to each other while you or one of your students is speaking, you’ve struck gold! Clearly your class is advanced enough not to require an orderly environment. Besides, you’re a teacher, not a police officer. These knuckle-dragging mongoloids can govern themselves.
  9. Never use tables or charts. Organized information may feel like an effective means of education, but trust me, writing all over the blackboard without regard to context or continuity is how minds are truly molded. If a student needs the clarity of neatly arranged rows and diagrams, they probably never wore a helmet to football practice.
  10. The book should be a better teacher than you are. A lot of time and money went into the text book you use for your classes. Don’t waste it by trying to improve the formula, embrace it! If you need a cup of coffee or a smoke break, just tell your students to turn to page 168 and walk your ass right out of the classroom. Students love that, and it sure as hell beats actually speaking to the slack-jawed mouth breathers, am I right?

By utilizing these 10 simple steps, I promise you will stunt your student’s educational growth and salt the very earth from whence it sprang. You will preserve the German language — or any subject matter you choose to teach — and keep it well out of reach of the unwashed hordes. And this isn’t just your job we’re talking about, it’s a way of life; you should go home after class every day, stare deep into the bathroom mirror and smile with perfect certainty, because you are definitely looking at an asshole.

If you’d like to read about my experience with truly wonderful German teachers, click here.

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Denglish 83: My German Wife Unhappily Transports Bean Bag Chairs at an Elementary School

While we were living in the United States, my wife worked as an assistant teacher at a primary school. She had to help out with lessons, sing and dance with the children, and do all sorts of other activities that would make me want to uppercut the nearest kid I could find.

During one particularly hectic week at school, my wife was asked to help tidy up the playroom for an upcoming visit from the school board. This included putting toys away and rearranging furniture items, like tables, stools, desks and — apparently — bean bag chairs. I didn’t quite understand the way she articulated this last item, so I asked her to repeat it:

THE WIFE: “I said, ‘We even had to move the sit-sacks,’ ”

Click here to learn more about the term “Denglish.”

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