The Benefits of Class
One of my four test pages
This is the end of my third week of my language class, and things have taken a nice turn. I got a good grade on a test, what would amount to a solid ‘B’ in American schools, and most of my mistakes were typos! I misspelled August (Augusti) by leaving out the ‘u’, and answered a sequence of months question by listing November in front of Oktober. Duh! I’ve never been able to proofread my own work. I have an editor in India who does that for me now. Months are not capitalized here.
A ‘B’ in class was a real upper for me. I was surprised how good it made me feel, a very welcome shot of self confidence. I can do this! At the very least I will come out knowing more than when I went in, and there are other benefits. I’ve learned a bit of Swedish from my wife’s family, basics like: hello, goodbye, and thank you – things like that. Enough to get by. But there is a glass wall that keeps me not completely in the picture.I can sometimes grasp a basic understanding of surrounding conversations. There are English inserts for my benefit re: what is going on, sans details – which is where the devil hides.
The Swedes speak English and respond in kind when addressed in that fashion, but soon shift back into their native tongue with other Swedes involved in the discussion. My wife speaks Swedish on the phone. She could be selling the cats, or buying a horse. I would never know. One feels, and is, a bit left out of things.
This language class, four hours a day, has been an unexpected and unique experience. This third week found me unembarrassed by mistakes. They’ve become humorous. We are all making mistakes, and having a pretty good time of it. The Somalis are fun, and friendly – curious. They ask how old I am, and pat me on the back, perhaps as a congratulation for having lived so long. Their English is shaky and I often have to ask them to repeat what they have said, but they are helpful, sometimes whispering an answer when the teacher calls on me. Teacher is speaking more English now, and I am feeling comfortable with her.
Learning with ten other students has been such a different trip from going it alone. There is a wonderful feeling of support, and I find myself looking forward to the next class. Using even the limited vocabulary I’ve picked up has put me in a closer relationship with anyone I’m talking to. A door in the glass wall has begun to open. It feels great to have a bit more understanding, and some words at my command, to be a part of the conversation, instead of an observer looking in from the outside.
And there are other benefits. More later.