Learnin' German

When Ursula Schletz was preparing to move to the United States from Berlin in 1984, she reached out and wrote someone.

"I had lots of pen pals. That was the way I learned what Americans were like," she says. "I found that conversing, even through letters, made me feel more comfortable when it was time to go over."

For the past couple of years, Schletz has been helping aspiring Germanophiles get cozy with her native tongue by hosting dual-tongue parties through Colorado Free University. This week she introduces a series of language salons at Heavenly Daze Brewery, the large, sportsy brewpub that was bought by fellow German businesswoman Hanna DeCristofoiro earlier this year. Each Tuesday night, Schletz and a small group will convene to read and translate newspaper articles from German to English, to discuss current events and just to chat, Deutscher style.

"It is a very easy way to do it," she says. "We go around, round-table style, and those who don't know anything get help from those who know a lot. It is almost childlike.

"Where I'm from, traditionally, you meet in a bar, and there's a back room where clubs get together, whether to collect stamps or look at birds or whatever. In this group, we talk."

They'll also eat. Schletz, who prepares traditional European items for Heavenly Daze's lunch crowd, will serve meals to salon participants, who range from the fluent to the rank novice. And, as is appropriate to any German-style gathering, they may also choose to partake of Heavenly Daze's house offerings.

"It's perfect. They make their own Hefeweisen," Schletz says of the brewery. "Of course, the beer doesn't hurt to make people a little more relaxed."

Sounds like a gut time will be had by all.