Wednesday, March 25, 2009

approval addict

Today in language school, I was called on to read some sentences to practice pronunciation. Whenever this happens, I feel hot liquid run through my veins, down past my knees. I took a deep breathe, and with confidence began reading. After I struggled through the last line, "kaffið er kalt og vont" (the coffee is cold and bad), the teacher began to shake his head and commented, "það hljomar ekki vel." My heart began to beat fast as I sensed I had not done something well (ekki=not, vel=well). Confirming my suspicion, the teacher repeated the sentence "það hljomar ekki vel" and translated: "This does not sound good." I began to feel a lump forming in my throat as the discouragement set it. As if it hadn't been enough already, he proceeded to write the sentence on the board, making a public mockery of my ignorance. "Það....hjomar...ekki...vel" He enunciated each word and reiterated what each one meant: "This....does...not...sound...good." I smiled nervously as I tried to take the harsh rebuke and began to feed myself some positive self talk:
"God still loves me......I have unshakable worth in Jesus...My value as a person is not dependent on my performance....Who I am in Christ is more important than what I do....even if I can't speak this stupid language!!!"

Sensing the difficulty of the moment, Colby put his arm around me and began to rub my back. Being the peace-maker that he is (he is a textbook third-child), he raised his hand and tried to compromise, "Now..was it just the last line that didn't sound so good?" Blinking back tears, I looked over at Colby, admiring his ability to bring moderation to such a bleak moment. At that moment, the teacher saw my despair and immediately started belly-laughing. "No, no, no....I was saying that cold coffee does not sound good...not you!" He spent the next few minutes making fun of me and even flagged someone over who was not in our class to share the humorous miss communication. Either way, it's a good thing that my self-worth is not tied to my ability to speak this language.


Riss! said...

Oh my goodness! If only I could tell you how many many times I have been in your shoes with this language! There is a reason only 300,000 people in the world can speak it!!! I had a woman holler at me at work one day telling me that if I was in her country I need to speak her language, and the thing is I was TRYING! I also blinked back tears and shrunk inside of myself...lucky for you he wasn´t referring to you! hehe

Don´t worry, we can have dinner again, and talk about the angst of the Icelandic language!


Anonymous said...

Oh Annie!!! I am sorry you felt so bad...but I am glad it turned out have a kind husband.

David Fauth said...

cold coffee is not good.

Lilja said...

Wow, is he an educated educator? It sounds to me he doesn't know of the does and don'ts of how to talk to students. First refer to something that was well done and than add the "but this part you can improve". Well, that's the thumb rule anyway.
Not only is cold coffee disgusting but there are some very difficult phonemes in the icelandic sentence! So if you did it well, then: "Well done" to you!