More European -passing thru ex-pats, and integration

Lady luck was not playing on my team, and as a risky Poker player I was out of the Poker tournament at the English Room, and my ear pricked up at someone exclaiming:

“you should try to make the effort to learn their language, it is like just nice”

Sometimes you overhear someone expressing something you agree with or have been thinking about a lot lately. They may be too engrossed in their argument that to dive in is difficult. But it reflected what I had been mulling over of late.

As English speakers we do suffer the association with what I used to term the “passing through” ex-pats.

These are defined in a few ways:

  • The one who after over a year has made no attempt to really learn the lingo.
  • The one who complains and whinging constantly about the differences to their own culture, and all nuances and aspects of their new abode.
  • The one who only mixes socially in ex-pat circles. Even a sub-sector who only have ex-pat friends.
  • The one who has a beau (gf or bf) who does most things for them, so they do not need to engage with the lingo.

Do you fall into any of these categories?

I have I guess in the past, when I did not think I would settle in Germany. But that has changed with some effort, funding German lessons, as well as deliberately trying to have close German friends. The latter comes with any natural attempt at settling or integration.

But what astounds me is the demographic change of these “passing through” ex-pats. No longer can I call I say they just pass through because Leipzig is becoming more international. And in this melting pot you can hide your lack of integration more than before. The people I have met over the last few years really opened my eyes, in that they can live here over three years without really engaging with the lingo. I guess this is a down side of a slow progression to becoming international.

You see this in many places all over the world I am sure.

Even back in ole blighty Brits complain of the ethnic communities that have not integrated into society. It is I guess easier to do in those places with an international flavour.

However due to the post imperialism and the growth of English as a lingua franca the Brits, and Americans can be the worst culprits of this divisive factor in society. Especially the ESL/EFL back packers in the teaching profession. But that polemic I will leave for another day, and let you muse on a humorous take on the peculiarities of the English

What is it like where you live, and has there been a demographic change to integration?




A native Brit, Stewart is from the East Midlands. He has worked all over England and has been in Germany since 2002. Through working with the youth and the disabled he has been able to fine tune his communication skills. A Cambridge qualified (CELTA/LCCI CerTEB) instructor of English as a Foreign Language, he also has experience as a copy editor/ proof reader specializing in Higher Education and Business English. He assists established companies & local English trainers (LELTA) in optimizing their platforms, markets & copy (texts). With a Bachelors degree in English & Art, he brings diverse skills within a broad palette to his academic courses, an English speakers community (So Social Club) & an art project (Lebenskunstler). Not only focusing on creative expression but exemplary use of language.


  • Kat

    I came in 2005 and am just as bothered as others at my limited German – but being a single mom (who studied Spanish 4 yrs. stateside) and working full-time in an English school has kept me from fluency. German friends, strangers seem to prefer practicing their English with me. It seems the most judgmental/critical are fellow ex-pats who’ve figured out how to balance learning, making a living. But then I consider the 50+ preschool students I’ve had who, two years at a time, learned to speak fluent English through me. Becoming fluent in German has always been a priority, but not always mentally/physically possible. I’ve done books, cds, online course, tandems, private tutors, classes, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve teared up before a teacher or wanted to crawl into a hole after incoherent, humiliating phone calls. I can get by, but I know what it’ll take, for me is more down time – which is on the horizon. Actually, I’m finally allowing myself to indulge in the city’s English/International communities. So for now, I’m giving myself a break. Even a pat on the back. Not only am I still here, but my son will be taking on a 3rd language next year. But it is interesting to think of the pockets of transients or immigrants going through different stages of this process through the ages, cities worldwide. It always sort of startles me to think of myself as an immigrant, but indeed – I am. Seemingly influencing children to become future immigrants. Sorry nationalism.

  • Tefl Jobs

    Working in Japan I noticed a slightly different dynamic occur where westerners and Japanese would develop symbiotic relationships. The Japanese person would want the westerners company to practice English while the westerner would use the Japanese person as a translator when they had to do tasks that involved speaking Japanese. This relationship prevented the westerner from making any effort to speak Japanese.


  • theLingoGuy

    I did suffer from the novelty factor of Germans practicing their English with me for the first 3 years. But made a real effort to steer them back to German, and to improve my own fluency. It takes effort, willingness on both sides, and sometimes being downright stubborn on my part. Accuracy in German is still an issue though, and I will never loose my English inflections
    But how can we have a happy medium where the ex-pat integrates well, and what factors influence this?
    I wonder how it is for other non English nationalities with native lingo being widely spoken in a foreign country?

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