Stickman Readers' Submissions August 2nd, 2006

Delightful SE Asian Wife In Europe – Language And Language School 5

By Hans Meier

An average sentence is a sublime and impressive curiosity; it occupies a quarter of a column; it contains all the ten parts of speech — not in regular order, but mixed; it is built mainly of compound words constructed by the writer on the spot, and not to be found in any dictionary — six or seven words compacted into one, without joint or seam — that is, without hyphens; it treats of fourteen or fifteen different subjects, each inclosed in a parenthesis of its own, with here and there extra parentheses which reinclose three or four of the minor parentheses, making pens within pens: finally, all the parentheses and reparentheses are massed together between a couple of king-parentheses, one of which is placed in the first line of the majestic sentence and the other in the middle of the last line of it — after which comes the VERB, and you find out for the first time what the man has been talking about.

He Clinic Bangkok

Mark Twain about my language


One evening i take the train into the bigbad capital to meet Nahlee after school. We will visit another institute which specialises in slow classes. When we meet at the central train station, see who is there: Isa, her Indonesian school friend. Isa also wants to see the slow school.

While we walk through busy streets, Isa complains: "Our current school is too fast. I feel like running, running, running! She just throws her grammar at us, not caring if we cope or not! I am so tired!"

CBD bangkok

The school we visit is not a private business, like their current institute. It belongs to the capital municipality, and they have a certain social approach. There is nothing of the charme and elegance of Nahlee's current school. For our interviews, we wait in a crammed dirty corridor in front of the smelly noisy photocopier. Students, teachers and managers pass by constantly. Again, the middle-aged manageresses sweep around in wide, silken "Asian" or colorful "African" dresses, while the students from Asia and Africa wear jeans, T-shirts and a bored attitude. If a clerk leaves her office for a moment, she locks the door.

This school gets EU funding for their integration efforts. What, according to our government, has to be learnt in 100 class hours is here spread over 300 hours. They also use another book – a book that is newly made for non-academic learners, the likes of refugees and imported family members. Better for my Nahlee! This book has more pictures, more color print and is much clearer, also for me, Nahlee's private après-school-teacher. The manager says that Nahlee's previous book is only good for hard-boiled, experienced academics. We will happily discard it and switch to the slow school.

In the grading test Nahlee performs poorly. When i see what she wrote – or not wrote – i faint: She could do much better! But she is always so nervous. And she has a severe problem to understand the exercises. From her own school system, she is used to monotonous repititions and strict rules. Here in Farangland, that's not on the menue. Permanently she has to immerse herself into small screenplays, invent answers in little scenes or dream up the questions to given answers. That entitles her to a lot of freedom – which is not to her liking.

The school employee suggests that Nahlee takes a class starting from zero. Or she might take a class that starts from the second level, according to this school's own, slow progression. I suggest to let her into the second level. That class also has good hours that connect well with our train: She will spend the same time in class like in the old school; but she will spend one hour less away from home, because now class hours connect seamlessly with the train times. And what's more, this school doesn't work on Fridays. So she has three days free for herself from Friday to Sunday, for garden, ironing, cooking pot and husband – i feel she needs that. I don't require her to finish her studies fast. There is no decent job waiting for her anyway.

wonderland clinic

I feel in this school they see the students not as language-learning-machines. Here the foreigners are "humanitarian cases" with a lot of issues besides the language thing. And what i like even more: This school also has a special course "Pronounciation for Asians". I quickly book her into that one, even though it destroys her free Friday for ten consecutive weeks. To be honest, i am happy to have her out of the house for some hours, because that's better for my difficult home office work. I pray that in this pronounciation course she will understand to say not "senten", but "sentence"; not "play", but "place". Whenever i admonish her to speak the word endings, i just get her irritated look – "c'mon guy, i know well already, but is it THAT important to annoy me all over?" I also must say that i have a friend who is speech therapist; he taught her almost impossible triphtongs with some real clever tricks. I hope her pronounciation teacher will be a speech therapist, too.

After our talk at the new school we leave quickly. We don't wait for Isa, her Indonesian school friend, to finish her interview: Before closing hour we still want to browse department stores for a new fridge with zero-degrees-area – required for Nahlee's salad collection. So we stow all her new school papers into her bag, smile Byebye to Isa and hit the streets.

We tour the stores and discuss the wonderful new towering stainless-steel-clad fridges completely in English.

Stickman's thoughts:

The more I hear about language schools in Europe and the whole language learning industry, the more I see that things in Thailand are really not that bad!

nana plaza