Saturday, September 11, 2010
A "Danbuurger" Belgian style
Those of you who know me well know I have a great deal of patience with friends, loved ones, clients etc. but when it comes to me doing things for myself, I have very little.
I like to get to the point, get the job done, and move along forward. I understand things take time to develop and am good at setting time-lines. Understandably, there will be the occasional glitch and I know how to roll with it as that's all part of the process.
Nonetheless, if things go slowly because of inefficiency, I have difficulty waiting when there can be another way to get the job done. I know if I really want to get better at whatever I undertake, it behooves me to be with others who are superior in that particular thing. I prefer to be challenged than to be the "leader" of less knowledgeable folks. Please don't misconstrue this, as I also enjoy teaching and imparting information to those who are wanting to learn, but if I'm in the "learner" seat, I need to look up!
Hence my frustration with the Flemish language class. For a 3 hour class I feel like I am getting 15 minutes of information. I sat through a week worth of this and then decided to speak to the instructor. I voiced my thoughts to her and asked if there was another class I might be better suited for. She understood my frustration and asked me to try the next level although I would have to take a test. "why not?" I thought. "I have nothing to lose". If it's way above my head, I will happily slog it out in the other and just do a lot more study on my own etc.
The next morning with a bit of excitement, I set off for school. Oh great, a whole new group of foreigners, but at least these folks have been doing this a while and have a better grasp of the language. The instructor handed me the exam, explained a few things (in Flemish) and sat me down. Gulp, it was not easy and with my VERY limited vocabulary and grammar, I had to wing it. Fortunately I expected it to be difficult so I was not surprised. I did the best I could, turned the pages over after finishing them and looked at the instructor. She told me the oral exam would occur at the break. Oh I can't wait!
She then asked me to join the class already in progress. I took a seat and jumped into the mix. They were working on conjugating past tense verbs and creating sentences and answering questions. This was my first introduction to the past tense and was thrilled that I could easily disseminate the information and see the patterns being used. Of course I did not know most of the verbs but quickly jotted them down as they were revealed! Hey this is fun!The instructor called on me just like everyone else and I seemed to be able to be in the mix.
By my interaction, the teacher was able to access my level and we spoke at the break. I explained my situation again and she decided to ask if I could attend both levels. GREAT. This will insure I cover the basics 4x per week as well as get an accelerated course 2x per week. Oh how I like having that plate a bit fuller.
However, with all this I do have one thing though that is troubling. This of course, is pronunciation. hmmmm, there are just some sounds that we don't have in English. Not only that we don't have them, we are SPECIFICALLY taught NOT to say them. I recall my folks and grandparents giving scornful looks when us kids would do spitting sounds, guttural noises or any other "improper" non English sounding sounds. These were categorized up there with farting and burping. Ha Ha Ha, what a 360 degree turn. NOW I HAVE TO USE THEM!!! Wait a minute, I spent 49 years avoiding these sounds so trying to recreate them now is no easy job. Finding the right tongue/teeth placement is sort of a type of face calisthenics. It is definitely challenging and certainly not ingrained in the muscle memory yet. Awkward!
I will admit this clip hits home.
Thank God, I learned a long time ago the importance of having a sense of humor as when I attempt to speak to Mr "X" in Flemish my pronunciation often causes him to burst into laughter. At first, I was embarrassed then quickly start laughing too and now I just say "I waaant to buy a Danburrrrrger".