Dear readers. . . Here is a post from late January that I never completely finished and therefore never posted. I realized recently that I never have posted anything very specific about my Norwegian classes. This really surprises me, seeing that so much of my life over the last 8 months has revolved around my ability--or inability--to learn and speak the language.
So, without further ado. . .
I now have 3 weeks of Norwegian classes under my belt, and hopefully have a little something to show for it other than some new gray hairs. Arg.
I wanted a challenge, and that is what I got. So for that I should be grateful. I was concerned that I'd be in a class where I'd be re-learning present tense verbs, and instead I got a class where the teacher wrote down and students recited four new tense of verbs I hadn't learned yet. Note to self: skip ahead to "new verb tenses" chapter.
The bureaucracy surrounding the Norwegian language classes has been a frustrating experience up until this point, and the first day of class was not any different. I was not given any information ahead of time other than "class is at 8:15am" --no room number, no class level, no teacher name--nothing (although I actually thought they said 7:45am, but the entire building was still dark and locked up at that time of day). Note to self: review "how to tell time" chapter. I spent nearly a half hour trying to find someone who could tell me which class I was in, and where the class was meeting. I thought this would be relatively simple, but the Learning Center does not teach just one Norsk kurs. They appear to be teaching at least 3 adult level classes, and have an entire elementary, middle and high school program running for immigrant students until they can be absorbed into the regular public schools. I was delivered to the appropriate room, 10 minutes late on the first day of school-thank-you-very-much, to a room with 6 other students and to a teacher who had no idea she was getting a new student that day. Again: thank you very much.
We made simple introductions, and I learned that the majority of my classmates had been in Norway for at least. . . 1.5 years, and some off and on for nearly 6. They included a married couple in their 40s from Lithuania, a dating couple in their early 20s also from Lithuania, a man from Somalia and another man from Eritrea (which took me 3 weeks to figure out what he was saying, and then another day to look it up on Wikipedia, ignorant American that I am).
To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. The students have a very good grasp of Norwegian, and seem to understand everything the teacher is saying to them, and can also rather clearly express themselves. I, on the other hand, could not. I quickly realized that I was lagging behind in two important areas: comprehension of "real" spoken language and verbal expression. I tried to remind myself that it was only natural for me to feel overwhelmed. After all, I've never taken a Norwegian class in my life, and this was the most intense exposure to the spoken language than I've had in the last 5 months. And I tried to treat the experience as a true "immersion" language class, knowing that the struggle to comprehend will eventually pay off. But it's hard not to feel like an idiot nonetheless.
May 2011 update:
To say my Norwegian class is an interesting experience is yet another understatement. Am I learning? Reflecting back over the last 4 months, I would say "yes". Has it been as effective as it could--or should--be? Absolutely not.
But, more on that later.