Go big or go home

Spelling bee list

There is a lot of test prep happening in our house lately. My kids both have German exams coming up and my son is participating in his school’s spelling bee. The German tests are mostly multiple choice questions with a listening-understanding and reading-understanding part at different difficulty levels. Some of the answers even I find not completely straight forward but I find that to be the case with most multiple choice tests. As usual my daughter does that independently whereas I basically have to sit next to my son so that he will stay focused. You don’t know how the test will look like but practicing with old tests helps a little to learn what to pay attention to when the actual testing day comes along. With the amount of complaining he does about the actual test, the stupidity of the questions, etc. I sometimes question myself if this is all a good idea but I think I said this before. Considering the amount of complaining and claims of misunderstanding he does surprisingly well on the practice tests.

I can help him with his German but I have my phone and my daughter to help with the list of spelling words. For a good chunk I would not do the pronunciation correctly and sometimes I even don’t know the word – so it is a learning experience for me, too. I told my son when looking at practicing his spelling words he should apply “klotzen, nicht kleckern” what is a German idiom for ‘go big, or go home’ I guess. It can mean to work really hard on something, or to put in a lot of effort (to achieve the optimal result in the end). A “Klotz” is a big block or chunk of something like a wood block or a concrete block. A “Klecks” is a small speck. So he should use a block and not a speck in direct translation. Anyway he seems not to concerned about the whole thing. The last couple of years another girl from his grade won the spelling bee and I fully expect she will do so again (and I think so does he). She has way more competitiveness in her than either of my kids and I am fine with that. To say it with another German idiom “Der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm” – “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”

Do you have a favorite idiom? I am sure there are plenty in English I don’t know about. I like them and as Amélie said in the movie of the same name (at least in the German versin) “Someone who knows idioms, can’t be a bad person.”

When looking at the translation of ‘Nicht kleckern, klotzen!’ I saw that it is also the German book title written by a public figure I rather not name – I might never use this phrase again.


11 thoughts on “Go big or go home”

  1. I love idioms but can’t think of a favorite. It’s so fun to teach kids about idioms. My husband and I will use one when talking to our daughter, and she’s always like, “I have no idea what that means.” So funny how they become a totally normal part of speech and yet they make ZERO sense if you don’t know what they refer to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your kids are lucky to have you there to help with the German. My daughter struggles with math, and I cannot remember any of it, so I am no help. I try to figure it out and I do it wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad mine are ok with math. In Germany they do math a little different, so even if it gets to the same result it looks different than it does here and it would probably confuse them more than it would help.


  3. Do you speak exclusively German at home? Or is it a mix now that you all are emersed in English every day?

    I love the idiom “Klotzen, nicht kleckern”… (and I did not know it’s the German book title of a book about someone whose name we’d rather never hear again).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since my husband is German, too we do speak German at home. The kids have to be reminded more often these days to stick to German but it’s still going fairly ok I would say. It gets harder though (at least for me).
      Yeah, I did not know it either and was a little shocked and annoyed because I love it as well.


  4. I had to google because I haven’t heard of the book. Glad I didn’t. I love idioms but I feel like they are not so fancy anymore. At least I do not come across them very often these days. I think one of my favorites is “Den Teufel nicht an die Wand malen” I don’t think I ever used it in a conversation though….


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