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Friday, May 04, 2007

School days, school days

We are back in Rio and I began my 2nd English class last night. The course is a series of classes, each 6-8 sessions of 3.5 hours each. There are a total of 12 modules. Now I will be in Written Discourse on Tuesdays and Research Methodology on Thursdays. I will enjoy the discourse class the most, maybe you will benefit from my increased knowledge of how to write in English. Last night I was called a foreigner twice. I am the only native speaker (of English) and the only student in a class of teachers. I know I am ESTRANGEIRA (I thought it meant stranger) but being called a foreigner felt ... harsh. Why would Foreigner feel worst then a stranger when all it is, is a difference in translation of the same word. According to the dictionary a foreigner is someone from another place, someone different, an alien, an outsider and a stranger is someone you don't know, a visitor, or a new arrival. Doesn't being a stranger sound friendlier to you than being a foreigner? Words and labels are powerful forces. As part of the night's exercise, we had to write about an experience in the class room, then pull hidden insight from the narrative, then turn the insight into why questions. It was a good exercise for finding possible research questions. Everyone else's narrative was about a teaching experience and mine was about a student experience, my most traumatic FIRST PORTUGUESE CLASS! The first important insight of this learning experience, EVERYONE is afraid to speak to a native speaker when learning a new language. I thought myself somehow inadequate and IT IS NORMAL. What a relief.

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