It’s definitely about connections and “the places you’ll go” for Tom Mayer ’94, who just published a German grammar book.
Mayer’s book, “Get Your Deutsch On! Basic German in Two Weeks,” is designed be a fun way to introduce some basic principles of German.
Learning the basics of another language asks that you become a child again, and that’s really where the book got its start decades ago when Mayer was a youth and Concordia Language Villages sparked his love for German.
“I still vividly remember my first day at Waldsee, at age 9, standing there with a packet of Gummi Bears and holding some German marks in my hand, realizing that there was a very big, very cool world out there that I desperately wanted to be a part of,” reflected Mayer.
The German Language Village, Waldsee, in Bemidji, Minn., had a big influence on him. He was a five-time villager in the ’80s and a three-time credit teacher in the ’90s.
In 1990, Mayer was a first-year student at Concordia and decided on a double major in German and international business. His major took him to das Institut für deutsche Studien (the Institute for German Studies) at Concordia Language Villages. There, he and approximately 30 Concordia students spent the academic year doing the entire core of their German major in one year. All of the classes were taught in German and, between the professors and teaching staff, there was a student-teacher ratio of about 4:1.
“That year was incredible,” he said. “And I left that place fluent in German.”
After he graduated from Concordia, he enrolled at the University of Tübingen in Germany to continue his studies.
“It was just supposed to be a year abroad to cement my German knowledge, but a year turned into two and two turned into a lifetime,” Mayer said. “I eventually got a job at SAP, got married, started having children, etc.”
In 2003, Mayer moved to England. He lives with his partner, Nicola, and between them they have five boys aged 10, 12, 14, 16 and 22.
“We live in Wendover, a beautiful little village about 45 minutes northwest of London,” he said.
He owns and operates Discovered Care and Education, a children’s residential care service.
“We provide residential care, education and therapy for up to five children who live in our group home full time,” he said. “In essence, the children we care for are too complex for foster care.”
The idea for the book came about from his friend since sophomore year, Dr. Peter Schultz ’94.
“Peter wrote a book for his students when he taught at Concordia called ‘Get Your Greek On!’” Mayer said. “I helped proofread his book and told him that I could write the German equivalent if he wanted. In all honesty, the driver there was that my life suddenly didn’t involve German on a day-to-day basis, so the book was an opportunity to reconnect to a language I love.”
Mayer wrote the book in his spare time and it took about a year of start-stop writing to get it done.
“By ‘year,’ I mean two,” he added.
His book was published by Theran Press, which is based in Fargo, N.D., and founded and run by Schultz.
“My leisure time is mainly taken up with sports: football, soccer and cricket with the boys and tennis with my partner,” Mayer said.
He travels to the U.S. at least once a year to visit his parents, brother and extended family in Bismarck, N.D., and sometimes to Blacksburg, Va., where his sister lives with her family. But it’s clear his life is overseas with a bit of German mixed in.