My first brush with learning a new language came 40+ years ago at the local grocery store in Dubendorf, Switzerland.
No one there spoke a word of English, and I didn’t speak a word of German, yet I had to get some food. We had just arrived in Zurich with our 6-week old baby and needed to get our new apartment stocked.
There were cans on the store’s shelf, but sadly, no pictures – only words. So, what to do? Point. So I pointed to fresh green beans. “Bohnen?” the sales girl inquired. “Ja,” I said. Well, I had learned Yes and No the first day. “How much?” Uh, oh! I waved my hands to indicate a size, I knew what she was asking, though I didn’t process a word. She measured some out, and there I was with dinner and my first word in German!
That night I pulled out the little grammar book and quickly learned numbers and weights, eager to go shopping again the next day.
Something like this has happened here in Prague. I’ve bought tons of food, but have to pass up lots of good-looking stuff, because I don’t know the ingredients. However, at the school, we are learning Czech to show us how we should teach English using only English. (like we could use any other language.)
We both (two students in this term’s class) have skimpy knowledge of several other languages. We’ve been given to understand that our students will likely want a higher and more correct level of English than our own pidgin German or Cambodian. The other student taught in Thailand and Cambodia.
Today, I bought a dish towel at a Farmers Market that had many of the same booths as at the market in Barrandov by our school. This market was in a tram node/shopping center known as Andel, pronounced Andyel. Sadly, no potatoes there, but in the nearby supermarket there were, plus shampoo and chicken breasts! We had just learned the word for chicken, yay!
My next stop was an ATM, then the Metro ticket office, where I bought a City Map. I need that to find the Chabad Center and a synagogue. I’d love to celebrate the High Holidays here and hear the shofar, but there’s probably not enough time left to do all the research I need to do to reserve a place and find it.
Everything has taken longer that I’d hoped it would. No pix for this post, I forgot to take my camera with me.