Thursday, October 01, 2009

On no longer learning a language

I have stopped learning Turkish. There we go. I started in 2000, stopped in 2002, and took it up again over the summer. And was really enjoying it - in an intellectually horrible way.

But Tuesday night was the first night of the new term. And, it turns out, new teacher. The old one was perfect - your typical laid-back Turkish bloke. We'd potter through genitives, have a coffee break, do a few more declensions, an anecdote about politics, and then clock off early.

The new tutor was your typical Turkish New Woman. Stunning, vivacious, intelligent, and hard-working. We found ourselves merged into her class from last year. They adored her, talked Turkish throughout, mixed tenses and plurals, referred to lovingly laminated handouts, and made knowing jokes about the possessive genitive. It was nightmarish.

Admittedly, I could have helped. I could have done a bit more preparation, but I've been manically trying to meet a deadline, and the idea of taking an afternoon off for revision seemed a luxury. But the whole thing was intellectually intimidating and not in a nice way.

And here lies the point. If you're learning a language just for fun, perhaps you don't want the neatest, most efficient teacher. You want it to be challenging, but no more so than a wordsearch in Take A Break. I wanted it to be relaxed and fun, but this was agonising and a little humiliating. The three of us from the other class ended the lesson pretty much huddled together with a shared look of fear as the teacher yet again said "But you have not covered the notions of space-owners? Albert will you care to demonstrate this briefly on the blackboard for our new arkadash?"

I stomped out at the end a broken man. It was like the one time I attended an aerobics class and discovered that there was more to it than regular attendance at G-A-Y during the Whigfield era. But, by a stroke of good fortune, the course administrator got in touch. "There's a mistake on your credit card number - can you correct it?"

I explained how I didn't plan on going back. "Oh, her." he said. "Quite understand. Consider your application shredded."

So, I'm suddenly intellectally free on Tuesdays. I have nothing to do. There is a Turkish word for this. It encompases everything from denying the existence of God through to running out of soup. It is "Yok."

1 comment:

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