Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

I have a wonderful, intermediate student who is teaching me Russian. Overall, it's great practice for both of us. She gets a practical application for her English, and I have a safe environment in which to experiment with Russian (and realize that I know a lot more than I think I do). While we only meet once a week, these lessons have increased my confidence. Usually right after the lesson I am eager to try out my newly discovered skills in the teachers' room. This works until someone says something that is above my beginner level, and then I just start responding in English. There is a down side to my confidence. Sometimes I assume someone is saying something different than they are actually saying. I am able to pick up a few words, so I respond thinking that I understand them when in reality I don't. I have found listening is one of the most difficult skills because while I am trying to understand what was said 5 words ago, new words are piling up, and it's definitely a test of my ability to concentrate.

Living in a foreign country where I don't know the language has really limited my independence, but over the past 7 months I have slowly been reclaiming this independence. The first week I remember not wanting to do anything alone, then I rode the metro and ventured out to the store alone, and now I have no problem going about my daily routine and occasional outings alone. I am still limited when it comes to the phone (I have not yet attempted to make a reservation or order take out). But my reclaimed independence has been great. The saying is really true that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!!! I haven't EVER used the telephone in Turkish. I'd much rather stand in front of the person and look like a fool--stumble through it face-to-face. Somehow this seems easier. And yet... it takes so much more time when I have to GO everywhere that I have questions. But it is bizarre and challenging. What will it be like going back to English?!