Englishtips-ali krieger — sink or swim

Ali Krieger — Sink or Swim

Oct 26 2011
Intro

If for some reason, you suddenly found yourself alone in the middle of the ocean, you would have only two options: sink or swim. You could give up or try to survive. The choice would be yours.

In English, we say someone will “sink or swim” anytime it is up to them to succeed or fail. When Ali Krieger isn’t playing for the US Women’s National Team, she plays club soccer for FFC Frankfurt in Germany. Over the last few years, she has learned a lot of German. We recently got the chance to see her German tattoo and talk to her about how she had to sink or swim when she got to Germany.
Dialogue

Ali: I’m Ali Krieger from the US Women’s National Team. Thank you for having me on.

Jason: So you recently learned, over the last few years, a lot of German. I was just wondering, what’s your strategy for learning a language? How did you go about learning German?

Ali: You know, I didn’t know a word of German until I went to Frankfurt. Honestly, they threw me in the courses, the German classes. I’m now in German 8, so I’m still learning and I love to speak the language. I love to learn. But also, I was lucky enough that I landed on the team and I automatically can speak with the girls. Not all of them speak English, which I didn’t expect them to. So I had to learn pretty quick. You have to sink or swim, and I decided to swim a bit and try to test the waters and see how much I can learn. I learned all of it in Germany because you have to live, and in the lifestyle and the people you meet, you need to know their personality. You need to know your way around, and that was the only way possible.

Jason: When Ali got to Germany, she didn’t know any German. She had to learn it or fail. That’s what she means when she says she had to sink or swim.

Ali: So I had to learn pretty quick. You have to sink or swim, and I decided to swim a bit and try to test the waters and see how much I can learn.

Jason: I gather you have a German tattoo. Can we get a shot of that?

Ali: It means “love” in German, “liebe,” it just describes and represents my experience there in Germany and how much love I have for the country, for the land, for the people, for the culture. It just is a good story to tell. When people ask me, “Hey, what does your tattoo mean?,” that’s really cool. I’m able to express how much I love the country and my whole experience and opportunity there.

Jason: That’s awesome. Thanks so much for talking with us. Can I get you to give me a high five and say, “English, baby!”?

Ali: English, baby!
Discussion

Ali didn’t know any German when she got to Germany. She had to sink or swim, and she decided to swim. She learned German and she is glad she did. She loves Germany and the German people.

If Ali hadn’t learned German, her experience there would not have been the same. It might have been bad. She might not have stayed with her team.

Ali had to sink or swim. She had to learn German to succeed. When have you had to sink or swim?
Grammar Point

Gerunds vs. Infinitives

Ali says she loves to speak German and she loves to learn. You can talk about your favorite activities by using the verbs “like” or “love” followed by an infinitive, a verb with “to.”

What do you love to do? What languages do you like to speak?

It is also possible to follow the verbs "like " and “love” with a gerund, a verb with “ing.” For example, you can say “I love speaking English” or “I like playing soccer.”