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Delightful SE Asian Wife In Europe – Language And Language School 1

  • Written by Anonymous
  • July 21st, 2006
  • 5 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

By Hans Meier

Surely there is not another language that is so slipshod and systemless, and so slippery and elusive to the grasp.

Mark Twain about my language

One time I even get jealous: Nahlee comes home from school and rattles off ten new words – and they are not learnt from me, but *from school*! I feel sour! Does she now simply pick up vocabulary from anybody, even teachers, and not exclusively from me?

For a whole month she didn't learn anything in school. Her teacher proceeded way too fast. Every day we sat down for hours, trying to keep pace with a ridiculously speeding lingo instructor. She never came home with anything new in her head, except pains. All her progress had been my work.

But after she moved to a school with slow progression, things changed. She got hooked, she got interested, she tried to decipher newspaper headlines and demanded to listen to radio news:

"It is three o'clock."

"Oh, dear! Did he say it is three o' clock?"

— LAW AND ORDER —

My country actually *forces* foreigners to attend language classes. Nahlee, my SE Asian wife, learnt it from a paper together with her first one-year-visa, on the day of her wedding. So for you non-EU Stickman readers on the move to Europe, you might well be treated to our freshly invented "integration course". This gives you 600 class hours about our language and, of course, 30 more class hours about our society. It's divided into blocks of 100 hours, and one class hour has 45 real-life minutes. If you don't participate in these courses, you may face restrictions like less welfare money or no access to a local passport. (Some government figures now believe this is too soft. They want foreigners not only to attend the courses, but also to successfully pass the test before they get a passport and thus full access to the famed social amenities.)

The good news is: The "integration course" language classes are government-sponsored; all kinds of institutions from private language schools to church NGOs to federal or municipal educational establishments run these classes. They do it in different places, with different schedules and methods.

Of course the all-new law for mandatory integration courses isn't unwelcome in the local education business. The rules are as follows, according to the papers: Per class hour and participant of an integration course the school gets 2.50 USD from government. The participant gets a voucher that entitles her/him to attend, worth 125 USD for 100 hours. The participant still has to pay 125 USD for 100 hours. Thus, the school receives five USD per student per class hour. Of this, the student only pays 1.25 USD. (The school also cashes in another overhead administration fee on top of the subsidies per participant.) According to the reports, many teachers earn 12 to 15 USD per class hour. Only some government-run establishments pay as much as 20 or 25 USD per class hour. <When you hear numbers like this, you're definitely better off teaching in Bangkok!Stick>

Thus, participants pay only 125 USD per 100 class hours, plus about 25 USD for books and photocopies – or so you think. But when Nahlee starts learning at the chosen upmarket school (more in part 2), we are technically not yet married. This means, we don't hold the paper that entitles us to federal sponsoring. So, for the first block of 100 hours we have to pay 450 USD – the rate for people who take part without a federal obligation. Other schools only charge about 300 or 200 USD for participants without the government voucher.

— SHOPPING FOR SCHOOLING —

First we shop around for a language school in my rural area. But it is not that easy. One NGO has a list of foreigners who would like to partake. If the list is long enough, it will contact potential institutions. We learn that they need at least 16 to 18 students to start a new class. In the next four months, there is little chance that they would start something. I call several schools, and they don't make any forecast when the next class might start.

There is one course already running for about 20 class hours. The manager believes Nahlee could still step in. He invites us to visit the class for an hour. He will tell the teacher we might come.

We arrive at a training institution that belongs to the district government. It's an old, neglected school house. The same building has a government-run youth club, where oily male foreigners listen to blasting hip-hop, flashing tattoos. It feels like a ghetto. We do a catwalk right through their cluster. This is not what Nahlee had expected about the rich and oh-so-educated west.

The poorish class room has about twelve ladies and four men. Most are 22 to 35 years old, only few look older. We sit down and are approached by one of the younger students. She is the teacher, as it turns out. She has been told of our plan to visit. When she hears that we are about to marry, she smiles warmly and even pats Nahlee's arm – she may have seen harsher fates here. She shows us the book she is forced to use and says she doesn't like it. So today she will mostly use photocopies from other books. We get some photocopies to follow her teaching.

While explaining the language, this young teacheress mutters her explanations so carelessly that even I don't understand all her lecturing about accusatives and possessive pronouns. She puts handwritten sheets on the overhead projector which are so carelessly scribbled that even I cannot decipher her sentences. <This is a cardinal sin from a teacher. Boardwork should be VERY neat and tidyStick> So what make all the Russians, Thais, Turks and ex-Yugoslavs in class out of this?

In the break after 90 minutes we make our excuses. The teacher invites us to stay the whole session, but I pretend to be busy. I ask her if she also works in other schools. She feels flattered and tells me of another teaching assignment. But I only asked this to avoid her in the future.

Delightful SE Asian Wife In Europe – Language And Language School

1

— LAW AND ORDER —
— SHOPPING FOR SCHOOLING —

2

— STARTING THE FIRST SCHOOL —
— AROUND THE FIRST SCHOOL —
— HER VERY FIRST TIME —

3

— PIDGIN, TALK TO ME —
— LIFELONG LEARNING —
— HAVE PROBLEM —

4

— OFFICE TALK —
— TEACHER TALK —
— PDF OCR DIC —

5

— CHECKING THE SECOND SCHOOL —

6

— LEAVING THE FIRST SCHOOL —
— STARTING THE SECOND SCHOOL —

7

— FOREIGNERS' AFFAIRS —
— ASIAN AFFAIRS —

Stickman's thoughts:

This looks like the start of another interesting series, and I like the perspective of a South East Asian in Europe for a change, as opposed to one of us lot in SE Asia.