This Swedish language class is intense. Most of the Somalis seem to speak passable Swedish and the teacher lectures in Swedish. I understand about 60% of what is going on. Sometimes I ask teacher to explain in English – Engelska. I could be making that request every ten minutes. I bombed the last test, scored second lowest in my class. Teacher writes test score statistics on the white-board – no names, just the scores. Part of my problem was not understanding what she’d said the test was going to be about. I spent hours at home memorizing the wrong stuff. Wife says, “Well, it wasn’t wasted time. You’ve learned something.” She is an optimist. I am a realist, at best.
One of my classmates is from Syria, and smart. A tough, nice looking gal in her early twenties . . . been around, and friendly, helpful, very nice. She also speaks some English – native tongue is Arabic, I think. Another student, from somewhere in Africa, speaks English, and another English speaker is from Vietnam. She’s quiet, almost never asks a question. African’s about the same, and so am I. The Syrian is not afraid to interrupt the lesson.
“Can you say that in English?” she asks. God bless her.
There was another test, week before last. I scored low on that one too, but not embarrassingly so. I have forgotten how to study . . . homework. Need to put in still more time at home. This after four straight hours of Swedish every day. I’m wondering if many of my fellow students ever had good study habits . . . certainly not Swedish books and papers. How much time they have to study? One’s a mother with a young child. Several of the men have children, more than one. They have a serious need to learn Swedish . . . to find jobs. The Swedes do not speak Arabic, but most speak English. English spoken by the other “English speaking” students in my class is difficult for me to understand. Sometimes we simply give up conversations we’ve begun. There’s not a lot of small talk.
One might describe the style of teaching in this language class as, ‘total immersion’. I doubt it was planned this way. Most of the others have been through a beginning Swedish class, and are ready to move on. It’s hard for me to catch up, or even keep up. This class has devoured my life. It has totally changed my life. I was retired! I love the late night’s quiet hours, and normally I stay up ‘til two or three a.m. Good time to write, or read in peace, or simply watch TV. The best shows always seem to come on late at night. I like to get up around ten . . . take a nap around three in the afternoon.
Now I am up at seven and in school at eight, back home a little after twelve, and studying the lessons. I enjoy my time in class. The hours pass quickly. Classmates are friendly, and interesting . . . helpful. I wish it was easier for us to talk, perhaps someday in Swedish. They are sure to have some interesting stories.
Continued . . .