What’s it like living in a country where you don’t speak the language? Well, it’s like this:
A wall of sound that you know contains meaning. But you have no idea what it is, even when the intonation and facial expression carries the general direction and mood. So you can have a go at making the appropriate face to keep up your end of the conversation and pretend to be a great listener (I have gone a good 10 mins as one of three or four in a conversation), but you get found out eventually, and confessing to be a big faker who laughed at the jokes he didn’t understand isn’t pleasant.
On a good day, it’s a bit like this old Larson Cartoon
And very, very slowly, I can hear a few more words as time goes on. But it’s too slow.
And it leads to being very confused in places like the supermarket. Some things you really don’t know what they are. And what you think you know, you get wrong. Like the time we bought 6 cartons of yoghurt instead of milk. Or the time we made pizza with shortcrust pastry. And you can’t work out how to get the self-scanning working. At least I can ask Ursäkta, kan du hjälpa mig in Engelska? when things go truly wrong, which is huge advance on where I was 6 weeks ago (ie: Engelska?)
And while I do have enough very simple phrases to ask for things, I’m far too nervous to use them. Not because I fear my pronunciation would fail critically and laughably. Well, OK, not just because of that, but I’m much more afraid that the person behind the counter will ask a clarifying question, which will wash over me in an impenetrable wall of
blah blah blah blah GINGER! blah blah blah.
So I’m very relieved that both Lucy and I have finally bitten the bullet and registered for SFI classes. Lucy has hers 3 days a week in the day (starting at 0815) totalling 15hrs, and I have 2 evening classes of 3hrs. Both are a short bus ride away from the house (actually just across the car park from our nearest big supermarket, which is handy). Both of us start in a couple of weeks.