Friday, October 08, 2010

Its Not That I Don't Want To Talk to You

Okay, I confess.

I sort of avoid my old language teachers.

This is technically my third language that I have studied courtesy of the Foreign Service Institute (fourth if you count the Arabic I took at post, but since that teacher doesn't work for FSI, it doesn't count for the purposes of this post).

So there are a number of folks walking around FSI who I have studied with, and some of them I even genuinely like. But I sort of avoid them.

I found out at our Nordic get together the other week that I am not the only one. Other language students do too.

It isn't that we don't want to talk to our old language teachers. It is that we want to talk to them in the language we studied with them, and that really screws up the language we are studying NOW.

So when I see my Russian teachers, who I only studied with for an hour a day for 16 weeks greet me in Russian, I respond in Russian....and then I start using Russian pronouns in Estonian class.

Which is BAD, on multiple levels.

But Hebrew? I'd be doomed. I got to a 3/2+ in Hebrew and then lived in country for more than two years. So I try to avoid it at all costs.

But today in the cafeteria, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to find Sara, my Hebrew teacher, who I just LOVE! She greeted me in Hebrew, and I gave her a big hug.

And then I begged her not to speak to me in Hebrew so that all the Estonian I had mashed into my brain over the past five weeks wouldn't fall out. Because Hebrew still has a better grip on those over-taxed brain cells.

Luckily she now I won't have to avoid her anymore.


Jonathan McKay said...

I'm the opposite. I've been relishing the chance to talk with somebody that will correct my Arabic. I also feel like it's the best way to keep the old language from totally fading from memory.

But this may be due to the fact that Arabic and Chinese are so different I don't have to worry too much about interference.

Bfiles said...

this is so funny! I think there must also be an element of not wanting the teacher to see that the language he/she taught you has perhaps been lost or replaced a bit...

Digger said...

I'll be happy to keep my Hebrew from fading once I have Estonian more securely embedded. But for the moment, anything I want to say in Estonian I can usually say in Hebrew, so that will come out. The languages are very different, but that doesn't stop me for reaching for what I know. So best not to speak that one at all for the moment.