Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Two tales

Here are two tales about what it can be like in Swedish class.

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On a given day, a lot of time is spent working on pronunciation of two specific letters. This is a thing that is done every Tuesday. We are working our way through the alphabet, slowly but surely. Today was a day for R and P. P and R, maybe I should say. There is a Q in the swedish alphabet, but it is rarely used.

The teacher mentions that there are some words that have a P or an R next to another consonant, and in those examples the P or the R can be silent. Actually the example she used was the word psalm, which is identical in spelling and meaning to the english word psalm, so that is convenient.

Then a student asks about another combination of two letters in a specific word where one of the letters is silent. The teacher explains that yes, there are a lot of cases where this is true. She writes a few more examples of various letter combos on the board, along with specific words where this is the case. She talks about it for several minutes. And then she says, "We can talk more about this tomorrow, since our main objective right now is pronunciation with P and R." Except she says it in Swedish. And I have a pretty good idea that the student could understand her, but either chose to not listen or just push her own objective, because she pressed on, repeating her initial question word-for-word, as if no answer had already been given.

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Many times the teacher says something, only to have a student completely not understand and do just the opposite. It makes me laugh a lot, and I like laughing so it suits me just fine. An example is when we were gathering around a table to discuss a topic. The teacher said, "Oh we are not too many people, so we can fit around one table if we just bring over a couple more chairs." And two students looked at her, looked away, and then moved two chairs out of the way so that they could pull a second table over. The teacher just shrugged and said, "or not," which I guess makes sense, because what else is there left to do?

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