Jul 17, 2009

Laughing Out Loud

I was in a Mandarin class all this week. What a hoot! We laughed so hard that our sides literally hurt. We laughed so hard that the teacher had to give us a ten minute break so we could gather our thoughts. We laughed so hard that I will NEVER forget the word for meat in Mandarin.

And then today, I was reminded that this is not the standard impression we have of foreign language classes. Learning a language is supposed to be HARD work. We are supposed to suffer to gain this priviledged information. We are not supposed to be laughing about sexy airline pilots, meat, and America Idol try outs. We are supposed to be stressed about tones and tenses (no tenses in Mandarin, btw) We are supposed to feel STUPID. And when the teacher has repeated the same word for three days, and I stop her to ask what that word means, the entire class is supposed to turn on me and remind me how stupid I am for forgetting.

Nobody told that to my teacher, Linda Li, this week. I did make that mistake, and she stopped talking, reminded me what the word was, and then slowed down her story until she was sure I was back on board. And when we accidentally said the teacher kissed the student instead of the teacher asked the student, she didn't tell us how we were awful students because we couldn't hear the tones after four days.

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