Sunday, November 25, 2012

They Also Serve Who Conjugate Verbs...

Well, it's been since shortly after A-100 ended that I wrote a post. What's been happening since then? Bahasa Indonesia, that's what. And not just "where's the bathroom?" kind of Indonesian, but the "what did the Prime Minister of Japan just say about China's latest actions in the South China Sea?" kind.

The days go by slowly, but the months are rushing by. Here is a typical day in language class:

Ride to Work- on the bus to FSI to begin the day, small cup of coffee from the apartment;

Hour 1- into the language lab for an hour of listening practice, including BBC Indonesia, fill in the blanks from instructors, and soaps from Mivo.

Hours 2-3- Two hours of intensive speaking practice. Usually 15-20 new words introduced. 2nd cup of coffee, usually Starbucks Sumatra (yay Indonesia!).


Hours 4-5- Two hours of intensive reading practice. 15-20 more words introduced. Diet soda also introduced.

HOME for 1-1.5 hour nap.

HOMEWORK 1.5-2.5 hours.



We have learned that if we work hard we will be able to put 15-20 words in the recognition (I know it when I see it) circle, and only 5-7 of those in the production (I can come up with it on my own) circle. With 40-50 new words a day, you can see that task #1 is avoiding the soul-crushing feeling of inadequacy as words flow by and you can't even remember them the next day.

I used to always be aware of the day and date. To make sure I am following the schedule, I still keep track of the day. But the date is irrelevant for the most part, so that part of my brain has been reformatted to contain the difference between masalah- problem and kesulitan-difficulty. Now, our classrooms don't look like the picture above. There are hexagonal tables, smart boards and the ability to play videos and be very interactive. But you know what? At the end of the day there really isn't any way to avoid just memorizing a truckload of words and grammar. Pimsleur Method, Rosetta Stone, subliminal tapes, all those just get you started. Between you and graduation is 7-8 hours a day at the coalface, plugging away.

It is getting better. I think I am doing OK, though progress tests this week will tell me if I am sniffing glue on that one. But it ain't because I am great at language. It is because I am reasonably intelligent. motivated by a desire to do well, and required to spend a long time on one thing. If I practiced free throws 7-8 hours a day I still wouldn't be NBA-caliber, but I would improve a lot.

And yet... I have begun to actually think in Indonesian. This is a huge step from translation, and to be celebrated. When I can dream in the language, it will get even better. Finally I will be able to tell a joke on myself in Indonesian, and then I will be on my way.

Terima kasih for reading, and sampai nanti- until later.


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