Swedish For Immigrants – Week 5 – Part one.

Study 1 photo AThis 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 . . .


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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8 Responses to Swedish For Immigrants – Week 5 – Part one.

  1. Bruce, I am with you. I too wouldn’t be able to put time into studying after spending 4 hours learning. Best bet would be to go out and use what you have. Hands-on beats formal education every time. (my opinion). Go sniff those flowers in the market place 🙂

  2. Such an honest and direct narrative, the struggle of learning goes on but i feel you are improving and you, i dare say, feel that, too.
    Another pleasure to read, Bruce. You WILL succeed – hang in there.

  3. Learning how to study is the hard part Bruce. I never went to high school so the rigours of study was never part of my life. When I joined the police at 30, oh boy. This was the equivalent of a 1st year law degree at Uni. I came bottom of the class in the first exam, that inspired me to find out how to study properly. Writing with a black pen on yellow paper is great and because it stands out your mind tends to absorb it. I also read the notes I’d written into a tape recorder and played it back while driving to the academy. I ended up topping English, First Aid and came 13th out 56 students. I know it wasn’t in Swedish but the same techniques apply

  4. I agree with your wife and with John. You cannot fail, you are learning even if it’s not exactly what your teacher expects. Look back and you’ll see real progress.

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