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Ali Krieger - Sink or Swim

Ali Krieger - Sink or Swim English, baby! Video Lesson
阿里·克里格 - 自主沉浮

Date: Oct 26 2011

Themes: Celebrity, Sports

Grammar: Gerunds vs. Infinitives


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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.

在英语中,当成败与否全凭其自身时,我们会说某人将“sink or swim”(自主沉浮)。当阿里·克里格不为美国女子国家队效力时,她在德国 FFC 法兰克福一家俱乐部中踢球。在过去的几年中,她学习了不少德语。我们最近有机会看见她的德文纹身,并询问她刚到德国时,如何“自主沉浮”。

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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!


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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?

For more with Ali, see the first half of this interview or visit our blog.



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This is a place to practice expressing oneself in English and I object to the forum being (mis)used for advertising purposes as below.

10:15 AM Jul 25 2017 |



Right now I am in the moment when I have no job because I have resigned in purpose to focus to get the scholarship for master degree. There are a lot of things to do. I have to sink or swim.And  the decision is I have to swim in order to achieve what I want in the future.

12:05 AM Jul 11 2017 |




in the past my director decided to change the my city for job and offered me this reguirement. there was two option for me. leave the job and moving another city. i had to sink or swim. i did not accept moving anywhere as he required. i think i decided to sink a bit.  now a very hard life is waiting for me. 

10:10 AM Apr 07 2016 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

i appreciate your endevour Ali.


01:11 PM Jun 05 2015 |




06:32 AM Dec 03 2014 |




i wanna did that

05:39 AM Nov 23 2013 |



Burkina Faso

thank you Ali,I had to sink or swim when I was admited in english department of our university,in the midle of frensh speaker and myself frensh speaker,it semed dificult at the beginning and I realised that I mush sink or swim.

01:04 AM Nov 23 2013 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

we can do it!

07:03 PM Nov 15 2013 |




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.It’s really a good way to learn a language.

01:44 AM Jul 15 2013 |




also we should know how to push you keeping learning if you don’t need to make such a die/survive dicision.

most of us dont have the such a chance to live abroad and facing the situation.

my suggestion is ” have dreams”.

01:49 AM Feb 02 2012 |



Sri Lanka

Good luck to Ali for being able to come to grips with the German language. Personally, I find it a difficult language to learn.

01:29 PM Feb 01 2012 |





09:54 AM Jan 28 2012 |

ablmit siyit



02:57 PM Jan 19 2012 |



Learning German must have been a really hard thing to do for Ali. Especially as you age it gets a whole lot harder to learn new things. Plus German is a difficult language because of the three different articles and generally the grammar. I have to admit that it is very nonsensical and I am glad that I don’t have to learn it!

At the moment I have to improve my maths because I am currently stuck on the worst grade you can get. :/ If I don’t get at least a D by the end of the year I will either have to resit the year or start at a new school. So I guess it’s kind of like a sink or swim because to be successful I have to stay at my school. So I hope to achieve my goal! :)

08:56 PM Jan 18 2012 |




I wish to improve my speaking english, also I have to sink or swim, and I will swim, haha.

05:21 PM Jan 12 2012 |

ablmit siyit



06:49 AM Dec 25 2011 |

jesusinSuper Member!


That’s is true. There are many times when people have to Sink or Swim. For example, I had to swim, instead of sink. I was taking some classes in plain English, without knowing too much English. I struggle a lot learning, dispite, I did not know enough English, but I succeded and graduated from the classes.

01:54 AM Dec 20 2011 |


Serbia and Montenegro


01:16 PM Dec 13 2011 |

dc hell

dc hell


i guess the right point is Swim…

12:25 PM Dec 10 2011 |




yahhhhhh   keep  going111111111

10:58 AM Dec 09 2011 |

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