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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Yes, I can understand you.

I have so much to say and my computer doesn't want me to say it.

After my first week here, I felt like my language development was kind of stagnating.  I didn't feel like I was getting any better at talking, any better at understanding people, and I didn't know why.  Then, around the end of the 3rd week, one day I realized that I could understand more people and a lot better.  It was a pretty cool revelation.  I certainly still couldn't understand everyone, and I still needed a disgusting amount of sleep in order to comprehend what people were saying, but I could do so noticeably better.

I am taking three classes at the university.  Two of the three classes I am really enjoying and am able to understand the professors well enough.  I always surprise myself when the professors ask me if I understand, and I can genuinely say that yes, I am understand nearly everything it is that they are saying.  The third class, not so much.  There are four ceiling fans in each of my classrooms, and in two of the classes they aren't too loud or distracting.  In this third class though, they are deafening I cannot understand the professor, the other students, I can't focus.  The ceiling fans are so, so distracting.

Message for teacher-self:  Noises, moving objects, anything that is distracting for a student is ever more debilitatingly distracting for a student who is not fluent in the language of the classroom.

Another problem with this class is I cannot for the life of me find the reading materials.  This problem will hopefully soon resolve itself (in that, tomorrow I have class and will not leave until the professor has told me exactly where I can find them).  In the meantime though, I am getting more and more behind in the class.  I blame this on fact that, because of my program director's incompetence, and my missing the first week of class, I wasn't there when the teacher told us where to find the reading materials.  (Oh, I never got a chance to mention that, did I.  My program director, who is supposed to help me and make sure I get acquainted with the city and the university for some reason was unable to find out when my classes were set to start.  She found out a week after they began. I therefore missed the first week of all my classes.  I am still not caught up and am afraid I will never be.  This has caused unnecessary amounts of stress and frustration.)  I told him on Friday that I was going to go to the library and get them all that day (which is where they are supposed to be) and he never mentioned that they aren't actually there.

Message for teacher-self:  If the students don't have the materials, they aren't going to succeed.  Make sure that the students, especially those who have a harder time asking questions (due to language barriers or other reasons) have the required materials and understand what the homework assignments are.

On to the subject of sleep.  I sleep way too much here.  I can't help it.  The heat (it's hot where I am), the Spanish, everything makes me so tired.  If I don't get at least 8 hours of sleep, I cannot understand or speak in Spanish the next day.  When I don't get enough sleep I am really spacey and just feel lost and frustrated.  If I do get enough sleep, I'm a lot more comfortable and happy.

Message for teacher-self:  Sleep is important.  Even more so for student learning a second language.  Similarly to the way all student can easily get distracted, but students learning a second language can get even more distracted, all student need sleep, but students learning a second (or other) language need even more sleep.

I know there were so many other things I wanted to write about, and I can't think of any of them right now.

I was really excited the other day because someone asked me what time it was, and I was able to answer him.   I also can communicate with people better.  I asked two people, in what day, what the hours were for their respective stores, and was able to understand their responses.

I really need to write myself more notes.  At the beginning I was writing myself a lot of notes, but now that I'm really busy, I haven't made myself just sit down for 5-10 minutes a day and write about my experiences, my development.  Unless I learn a new language, I'll never again be able to feel the things that I'm feeling now, experience the developments that I'm currently experiencing.

So, goal: Write more.


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