The weather over the weekend was atrocious with strong winds, freezing rain and snow smashing Amman non-stop for a few days. So apart from one mad dash to Weibdeh for dinner and a beer on Friday night with some of the other students, I tried to make all my enforced inside time productive with study. At this morning’s vocab quiz, like the previous Sundays’ quizzes, I was a bit rusty but at least I didn’t disgrace myself.
After 45 minutes of vocab we launched straight into a long grammar lesson about present tense cases. I’m struggling with this, to be honest. I understand each of the rules individually but I’m finding it so hard to apply them in practice. We worked through some exercises in class, and I had to write more sentences as homework, but this is going to be a battle for me to absorb and make functional.
I spent the evening revising grammar as my end of month test is coming up this Thursday. I made tables of all the conjugation rules, past and present, and all the different kinds of irregular. Something about the process of making my own — writing it out myself, making formatting decisions etc. — means it sticks a little bit better (also, I tried a colour trick recommended to me by a relative and it seems to work). I need to get past having to visualise grammar tables in my head, but.
It became clear this morning that my classmate wasn’t coming back so, as with yesterday, it was just me for four hours. However, I’ll be dropping back to two hour personal lessons for the next three days this week as per the policy at the language school when you aren’t in a group. There are about 20 new students starting next Sunday, though, so I’m hopeful there will be at least one other who is at my level so I go back to four hour lessons.
First up this morning my teacher quizzed me on verbs and I had to write each one on the board. Then, once again, I had to make a story out of them. This was *hard*. I ended up with over 30 verbs and the activity was much more difficult than it was with nouns last week. When I finally got to the end and sat down, spent after all the diversions and tangents to unpack grammar, I looked at my watch and saw that a whole hour had gone past! We then started a new topic — the family — and worked through the routine of new vocab, a dialogue, and then several exercises to cement it all. We finished up with a lesson on object pronouns which, like yesterday’s lesson on cases, I understood but found I had to really had to grind gears in my head to put it into practice.
My head was spinning by the end of this four hours. My teacher asked me to go to the board at the end of the lesson and teach her the rules for cases from yesterday but I was done. I couldn’t form a coherent thought and I couldn’t shift focus from thinking about object pronouns. She took pity on me and let me go to curl up in the foetal position in the cafeteria.
I did more grammar revision tonight, building tables like last night but with the cases and object pronouns. Laying it out in a way that seems logical to me really helps, and I felt confident by the time I went to bed that I had a handle on it.
Because we were only doing two hours today the vocab quiz was a lot shorter. My teacher asked me yesterday to revise plurals from the bank and post office scenarios and they were the subject of today’s quiz. I did okay, maybe 60-70%, but need to focus more on plurals in general. I was then reunited with the creepy doll and had to point out all the body parts. After that we launched into another new topic: the seasons and weather. Another new load of vocab and then conversation about weather patterns in Jordan and Australia. Finally, I had to go to the board and do the teaching I didn’t do yesterday. And I think I managed to explain the cases in a mostly correct and understandable way.
With only a couple of days until the test, and an extra two hours up my sleeve in the afternoon, I focused after class on revising vocab from everything we’ve done this month.
We didn’t muck around with a vocab quiz this morning, launching directly instead into a fluid discussion about the seasons and the weather, working on vocab as it cropped up throughout the conversation. The improvement in my speaking compared to a month ago is definitely noticeable now and it feels less tortured and stilted. However, I still find myself coming up against brick walls far too often when I can’t think of how to structure a sentence the way I’d like to say it in English. In particular, I simply don’t have the recall of verbal nouns or a good sense of how they work in a sentence. Related, I’m also finding that my writing is getting faster and more natural, although I still need to hit Google Translate far too often to check spelling. We then did some work on if/then conditional sentence grammar before a bit of a chat about what I might encounter on the end of month test tomorrow.
I was really nervous about this test. I needed every minute of the two hours to work on it. My teacher is going to mark it over the weekend and let me know the results on Sunday. I’m confident I passed but think I could’ve done better. I fell apart on stupid weak vowel irregular conjugation — my brain was spinning around with rules and I just couldn’t get clarity. More revision needed on that.
This afternoon it was lovely to wind down with a bunch of other Arabic- and English-language students at the centre with a fun “pizza war” event. We formed mixed teams of Jordanians and foreigners and had to do battle with silly games like having to spell or do tongue twisters in the other language in order to win crucial ingredients for pizzas we were constructing at out tables. After they were cooked we relaxed and swapped exam war stories over plates of delicious pizza.
With Sunday marking the start of a new four week teaching period I’ll start later in the morning after all the new students have finished their placement tests and orientations. I’ll remain with my current teacher, which I’m happy about, and hopefully a couple of the new students will be streamed into my class. Oh, and my wife is one of the new students! She’s starting from scratch but it will be awesome to be able to discuss our shared experience learning the language and help each other out.