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Delightful SE Asian Wife In Europe – Language And Language School 8

  • Written by Anonymous
  • December 22nd, 2006
  • 5 min read


By Hans Meier


I have some organisational questions, so I call Nahlee's teacher. The teacheress seems open to be called, because on the phone list for the whole class she had written her first name – the only western name there – and her phone number.

It is an interesting one-hour talk. I tell the teacher how much I like her class trips to parks, cafés and supermarkets and also her food parties, where everyone has to bring home cooked dishes to class. These events push Nahlee much more into the new language than her school books.

The teacher doesn't talk much about grammar and thesaurus. She is actually a speech therapist with additional qualification for psychotherapy. She doesn't want to pump the last grammatical finesses into her students. She wants them to feel at ease in Old Europe, and to give them the language that's necessary to master life there.

She's just the right one for Nahlee.

— MASCULINE —

But then, some pure grammar: "The apple" is masculine in my language, so have you to refer to it with the proper personal pronoun. This has the consequence that Nahlee has to speak this sentence in school:

"I eat… HIM…"

"Ehm", she asks the lady teacher, "you really say 'I eat HIM' in your language?"

"Yes", answers the teacher, "we speak like that, it's correct – 'I eat HIM'."

Teacheress grins. Nahlee grins.

— FISH HOURS —

Nahlee's language school lies smack in the capital's "Little Middle East". Most shops are run by grim looking, fez'ed Muslims from Turkey, Pakistan or wherever; veiled ladies go shopping there. This is not Nahlee's preferred environment, but she manages to use the advantages: Fresh, delightful food and informal customer support.

In the early grey mornings, minutes before school starts, the shops are not yet open. But Nahlee knocks, and they let her in. Only now she has a full selection of fresh fish, meats and veggies. Just hours later, in the school's break, most will be sold. So now Nahlee chooses our dinners for the next one, two days. In local Old European language, my Buddhist lady and the Muslim Orientalists discuss qualities of fish, chicken and cauliflower.

Nahlee's selection is paid, packed into a plastic bag and wanders back into the fridge. Only four hours later, after school, Nahlee comes back to the store: Grabs her food well cooled, shyly smiles bye bye to the Orientalists and rushes off to the train station.

— COPY PASTE —

Everyday in class, this Turkish lady asks to copy her homework. Nahlee agrees for two weeks, but after that she keeps her book shut. "No, I say – she cannot copy."

"Why", I ask, "what's the problem with her? Is she smelly or messy?"

"No, she always brings food for me!"

"So what… can't she copy your stuff? Maybe no husband helps her at home?"

"You know what she does? She copies my exercises – and then she tries hard to read them out loud in class. And the teacher always says 'wonderful'. That's what I don't like. She copies my words and then hurries to present it as her own."

"Oh. And now, after you closed your book to her?"

"Oh, she is still friendly. She still brings food!"

— ASIAN CUISINE —

She is quite good in doing pre-structured exercises. Like where she is given a loose string of words, and she has to arrange them in the proper order, with the proper word endings and grammar.

But when she has to speak freely, she completely freaks out. Her homework is to answer the question “What did you do yesterday?” The teacher wants them to practice Past Tense. Nahlee almost cramps under the task and has no idea what she could write there.

She demands my help. I am willing to help with difficult grammar or unusual word forms and vocabulary, but I am not going to tell her what she did yesterday.

She cramps more. Nothing is coming out of her. Maybe she did nothing noteworthy yesterday?

I don’t want to spend all evening watching the one I married staring in panic at a white sheet of paper. I finally bark, in English: “So what did you do yesterday, hm? Maybe cooked something, prepared breakfast, no?”

“Oh, hmm, yes, I did.”

“So!!”

She writes:

“Yesterday I cooked bread.”

— PREMIERE —

Only after I rang off, I notice what just had taken place: our very first talk in my language *by telephone*! Really! (After about 250 hours in class.)

At home, we talk my language a lot. But by telephone, we tend to use English or Asian languages, because on an expensive line it’s still more clear and economic.

But this time, I had called her in the capital. Actually, she answered the call and talked *my* language right away, because she saw my number on the display.

I had asked her when she would come back, if I should start to prepare dinner and what she liked. All this was easy to discuss in *my* language. It went with ease, no misunderstandings, not even unclear pronunciation.

Wow!

— GUESS WHAT —

Nahlee is in that special class "Proper Pronunciation for Asians". "Asians", in this class in the capital, are represented as follows:
– 1 Chinese
– 1 Laotian
– 1 Vietnamese
– 1 Japanese
– 12 Thais
Female quota: 100 percent.

Stickman's thoughts:

The teacher's approach of taking students out into the real world for language lessons is EXCELLENT! As a language teacher that gets the serious thumbs up from me.