Friday, May 6, 2016

My week: April 24 ed.

I'm getting behind here on writing; work is really ramping up as our worldwide project is barreling down on us. Also, sometimes I just want to write about other things.

I met with tandem partner #1 and I realized that I don't know a lot of Umgangssprache (slang/everyday German). She filled me on some expressions. Now I need to decide which route to take with this. I do eventually want to be fluent in German, and part of that is to use slang. However, I also am an educated person and prefer to speak proper German. Is there a way to marry the two goals? We'll see.

My friend showed me some Youtube videos of an American teacher working with various Asian students on learning English. I found the videos interesting because the teacher was demonstrating linking words to sound more like a native speaker. For example, when a native speaker says "I went for a walk yesterday," it's more like "Iwentforawalkyeseterday." Or, "I'm going to go there" turns into something like "I'mgonta go there."

When watching these videos, I felt conflicted about what the teacher was doing. The students had heavy accents and were somewhat hard to understand even before they tried to use linking (nothing against them; they were learning, after all). I wondered if it might have been a better idea to get the students to speak more clearly first and then work on word linking later. The students were already a bit mumbly and didn't enunciate well. Linking the words at this point, to my ears, made things sound worse.

My philosophy, based on nothing other than my opinion and speaking with tandem partners who want to practice English, is that it's more important to speak clearly and properly first. After a learner can be clearly understood, then she can progress to learning how to sound like a native. What good is it, after all, if a language learner links words and uses colloquialisms, but is difficult to understand? I'd find it easier to understand someone who speaks more clearly, even if it's a bit formal-sounding and stiff. Someday, when I have more time, I'd love to read what EFL pedagogy says about this. Am I wrong, too formal, or too old-fashioned in this approach? What are there different schools of thought on this?

-Sometimes I think that our office building is really the Island of Misfit Toys, or, Employees.Other parts of our organization are very buttoned-up. Our building is home to people who work hard but also have moments of silliness and I love that.

For example, I'd been teasing the IT department and made the Iowan reenact American Gothic with me with a potato masher as the pitchfork. He had been mocking the misshapen potatoes on my desk so he deserved that.

The other guys brought me a lovely bouquet of...grass and dandelions in homage to foraging. Actually, they were taking the piss because I am interested in foraging wild foods and were horrified when I ate a dandelion leaf (they're totally edible, btw) to tease them right back. I also learned about Russian folk remedies.

-It was my birthday. My coworker made me a lovely lemon-blueberry coffee cake for my birthday. She even made candied limes and homemade lime whipped cream to go with it. Isn't that sweet, both literally and figuratively?

I stopped by Monte Mare for the free birthday pass to their pool and sauna facilities. Even though I've gone there several times before, I hadn't realized that there was a fitness pool. I put in a few embarrassing, I-can-swim-but-am-really-awkward-about-it laps.

I didn't want to have a party since I threw myself a more involved party last year (complete with pinata that I made, and super exciting cake that my coworker made) but I also didn't want to be alone, either. So, we planned a dinner through one of our social groups.  I didn't want the night to be about my birthday since it was a general event. My lovely friends are stubborn and thoughtful people though. Several stopped by before dinner to drop off some gifts and walk me to the restaurant. Oh, yeah, and to see Moo, of course!

My other friend made me a bottle of beer liqueur (I didn't know such a thing existed!) and made a custom label, calling it Sidehug Liqueur. I loved it, especially since he helped develop our group's weird but not creepy-like-the-Duggars version of the sidehug. To add to the joy, my friends W and M drove an hour to attend and showered me with gifts and sidehugs too. The new members of the group were thoroughly confused by the strange displays of affection (which involves just gently bumping your elbows together in greeting) but got a kick out of it, too. I swear, I think someday that someone will think we're a weird cult or something, and that would potentially be hilarious.

Can I just say how thankful I am for kind and thoughtful friends? It really meant a lot to me that they did all of this, and it helps to make being away from one's homeland not feel lonely on one's birthday.

No comments:

Post a Comment