One of the key components of learning a foreign language is being able to understand the language as spoken by native speakers. It can be challenging to gain this experience of hearing extensive German conversations spoken by proficient speakers in the classroom. Fortunately, once a semester, each German class watches a German film. This semester, since there wasn’t enough time in class, one of the German GTAs put on a small event for viewing the film, Der Wunder von Bern, for any students in German 1225 interested in attending. It’s a rare experience for me to be able to hear German spoken as it was in the film. Although there were English subtitles, if I focused exclusively on the German that was spoken, it was remarkable to realize that I could follow a reasonable portion of the dialogs. This experience definitely motivated me to begin watching more media in German, whether using the dubbing offered by services such as Netflix or searching out original German films and TV shows.
The experience of watching Der Wunder von Bern was remarkable, not only for the opportunity of watching a film where the only language spoken was German, but also because the film focused on two critical aspects of German culture: the German recovery from World War 2 and Soccer. The story follows the 1954 German National Team during the World Cup as they attempt to overcome all the odds and bring the championship to Germany. Although I knew that soccer was of enormous importance in Germany, I had no idea the extent to which, at least at this period in history, it defined their national identity. Besides documenting the German love of soccer, the film also highlighted the fact that in the years following their victory in the 1954 World Cup, Germany began a massive economic recovery that would ultimately bring Germany to its current state as an economic powerhouse in the modern world. Der Wunder von Bern viewing party hosted in Kaufmann Hall by Frau Rodriguez was an educating experience that enriched my knowledge of both German language and culture.