Swedish For Immigrants – Week 13

Test 2A

My ride on the emotional roller coaster continues. Lessons are fun most of the time, good teachers, and I enjoy my classmates. They continue to be friendly & helpful – watching out for the ‘old man’, but it remains difficult for me to understand most of what they are saying. Seems they all list English as a second language, but it’s an English totally unfamiliar to me. I don’t understand their Swedish more than very basic comments, and Enshala (incorrect spelling) is the only Arabic I know, (It is God’s will), a word I have started to use frequently.


My most frustrating problem continues to be understanding test questions (note photo above). The teachers give lengthy verbal explanations – in Swedish of course – and I can usually figure things out by looking at the test paper, but not always. I get blindsided once or twice a week.


This week we had a verbal test. We were divided into teams of three, two Somali girls and me. We were suppose to give a classroom talk on what people ate, what they did for exercise, and what they did to feel good. The girls understood each other, but were not clear on how to organize what each of us needed to do. I had a pretty good idea about how to get things in order, but understood less than half of what they were saying. It was a Chinese fire drill. Finally the teacher helped us. I took a rough draft home, typed it up, and had my Swedish wife make corrections. I went to class the next day with copies for the others on my team and felt good about it, confident. I had extra notes on my copy to help with pronunciation. We practiced our presentation for a half hour. One of my teammates had memorized her answer. I was so impressed. “I could never do that,” I told her, but doubt if she understood. The following day we stood in front of the class ready to do our thing. I was ready. This time I had the answers in my hand. All I had to do was read what I had written. Then the teacher said, in English, “No papers. You cannot read your work.”


So many times I feel like Charlie Brown holding to football. It was total humiliation. Sheesh. I felt so stupid. I had no idea we were supposed to memorize our answers. Our team had to stand down. I was able to memorize most of my part and did a sloppy recitation in for class two hours later. Went home feeling very down. I seem never to know what the hell is going on, and 60% is still the best I can do on tests. There are only two major tests left to do. After that, tallied scores will determine if students go on to ‘C’ level. There is no way I will pass, and have no idea what will happen. Maybe I will do the ‘B’ class again. I think what I really need is to go to ‘A’ class and get some kind of a running start at this language thing, but I have requested before and told I didn’t need class ‘A’.


Whatever. Sometimes I feel like I will be taking these classes for the rest of my life, and the time spent is taken from hours I would ordinarily spend writing. It’s hard to find time even for these blogs now. Yuk!


If we don’t change the direction we are headed we will end up where we are going. – Chinese proverb.

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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9 Responses to Swedish For Immigrants – Week 13

  1. Bruce, my heart bleeds for you… can’t you find some nice person who wants to learn English, or how to write, and swap info with each other?
    What you describe sounds so demoralising and dis-empowering. You are an intelligent cultured intellectual human being and you’re being put through the wringer un-necessarily… are these people all sadists?????
    Valerie – quite upset !

    • bldodson says:

      Thanks Valerie,
      The problem is I just don’t fit into the set-up here.
      I am the only American/English first language person among thousands of others who these classes are planned for.
      I actually enjoy 4 days out of five. It’s the Friday tests that get to me, but I am getting better at taking the hits!
      “What doesn’t kill you….”

  2. Judisk Pojke says:

    Livet ar en tik och da du dor!

  3. Gyslaine L. says:

    I wish you good luck I understand this is not evident. 🙂

  4. I agree with Valerie. It is so painful for us to see you whip yourself over not being able to scale that vertical cliff. And you try with such bullheaded courage.

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