On Wednesday, Amanda expounded on the confusion one must encounter when he/she learns English as a second language. Her post is entitled Glish--nn-Eng. She makes up her own words all the time as an aspiring court recorder, so who knows where that one came from.

In my list of things "to do," besides Chasing a Tornado and Touching the Northern Lights, I had also penciled in 'Learn to Speak Spanish.'

I tried. I signed up for and attended three quarters of Spanish night classes offered at the local community college. Then I gave up.

Our teacher was wonderful and encouraged me and the other "adults" that shared the classroom. One evening she asked us to each stand and give a short description of our morning routine. Most of the other students were struggling worse than I. Consequently, none of them understand when I told them in my (ahem!) excellent Spanish that I had gone to the bathroom and then crawled out of bed. The teacher was happy to interpret, however. (I'll do better with the tornado.)

That is one of the reasons why I am impressed with people who learn a second language and have the courage to converse in it until they have it conquered.

I met a young man through a previous job who lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland. He wanted to travel in the U.S. on a limited budget. So, I invited him to stay with us and see the northwest. I also made arrangement for him to stay with my family and friends as he traveled through Washington, Oregon and California.

He was so heartfelt with his thanks and his goodbyes that I was about to cry. Then he said,

"Oh, Pamela! You have been so kind beyond what I should expect. I do not know how I will get my revenge."

I started giggling. He looked so alarmed that I giggled more. "I say something wrong?" he questioned. It was difficult for me to explain that one to him.

We were also blessed with the opportunity to host Japanese exchange students when our girls were going to high school. They only stayed two weeks. Four times we had young ladies, and once we had a young man.

One young lady understood and spoke better English than her friend, so she would try to help her along. Over lunch, the hubby asked them both what their plans were when they finished high school. Girl #1 replied that she would go to college. Girl #2 looked imploringly at the first, because she hadn't figured out the question yet. Girl #1 spoke briefly in their language which prompted Girl #2 to smile brightly and say, "I want to go shopping." The hubby and I would have ignored and moved on, but Girl #1 broke into fits of belly laughter that made us all join in.

Girl #2 was so embarrassed. She never wanted to speak again. We just wanted her to be happy, to talk, to make mistakes, and to let us be a part of how wonderful she was.

Our most memorable moment came, however, with the young man that stayed with us. He was not shy nor was he afraid to be heard from. I made dinner one evening and he literally spit the food out on his plate. When he saw five pairs of wide-eyes gazing at his action, he realized that it wasn't quite the thing to do.

So, after dinner, he came in to the kitchen apparently to make amends with me. He stood straight and proud with his hands behind his back and said, "Sex is Soon."

I pulled my dish washing gloves off my hand to give me a moment to gather my thoughts regarding his announcement. During this short evasion, 15 year-old Karmyn, squeezed behind me and in front of the kitchen sink. I could hear her alarmed whisper, "Did he say what I thought he said, mom?"

"What? Can you repeat that, please." I questioned.

"S e x is Soon." He repeated slower and with clear enunciation.

I patted him on the shoulder and told him to "please go get your Japanese - English dictionary."

He pulled it out from behind his back, opened the page, and handed it to me. I read the word to which he pointed and was much relieved. He wanted me to know, although he hadn't liked what I had fixed for dinner that night, he was sure that I would have

"Success, soon."


Pam said…

Sex is soon would be a good thing too...just not in YOUR house huh???

I had an exchange student for six months. She was from Finland. What a great story. I should tell it sometime.

Did you know, learning a foreign language after age 50 is a significant activity that will prevent the onslaught of it regular aging dementia or one of the half dozen other types, or Alzheimers. Just thought you might like to know.

BarnGoddess said…
lol, I am still laughing over the sex is soon :)
swampwitch said…
Sex is soon...the Hansman would love this post...I'm going to use Pam's suggestion with the learning a second language...try to brush up on my Spanish this year.
Feliz Navidad ! How's that for a start? :)
Claudia said…
am I the only thinking he's a little punk to tell you not to worry, you'll get it?? ha!!
learning a new language is definitely a challenge though...
Sue said…
Too funny! We had French students live with us on two different occasions. Their English was better than my almost non existent French.
Challenging but much fun!
swampwitch said…
PameLaLaLaLa...just realized...your name is a holiday song...LaLaLa... :)
ian said…
Any kid who says "Sex is soon" in my house around my daughter is going to be eating his own liver with a nice Chianti and a side of fava beans.

Pass The Torch said…
Oh my gosh! That is so funny! I remember having disjointed conversations with our foreign exchange student -- even moreso when we visited her after she hadn't spoken English in months. She'd be so embarrassed because she couldn't find the right words.

But I was impressed, just like you.
Karmyn R said…
And hey - sometimes the person can be speaking English and you don't know what they are saying. I will have to post my Deep South adventure.
Pamela said…
Pam: You thought I'd like to know what? ha ha a ha

BarnGoddess: Well at least it wasn't sex is over soon.

Swampwitch - Yeah you're right. But not as Christmasy if it was Carol

Claudia: He was a stinker. I got him back tho. He was only 16 and he smoked. He was standing on the patio smoking when we heard sirens close by. I convinced him it was the police coming to enforce the underage smoking prohibition. He put that cigarette out and ran and hid. My work was done.

Sue: Did they ever cook for you? My Japanese girls did and it was so much fun.

Ian: You're such a sweet papa.

Kar: .... eeeeekkkkkeeeeeey!
Masago said…
Totally amusing!
Bonnie B said…
Sex is soon-- now wouldn't that be nice-- not with the exchange student though.
I'm taking Spanish. I once said "I am Paradise (instead of from Paradise) and I wear my friends well-- instead of something to the effect of having good friends or being good matches.
Melissa said…
This is just bringing back horribly destructive memories of my 15-minute high school report, in French, about Charles de Gaulle, which was written out phonetically because I was so very bad at spoken French. I practiced for weeks and was convinced that death would be better than having to do this presentation. Luckily I graduated soon after.
Heather said…
Sex is soon and Success, soon. Hmm. How are they different? (only when speaking of my hubby, mind you)
Shauna said…
Oh my goodness! ! ! How funny! I love the way you got the little stinker back! ! !LOL - that should have taught him. . .LOL :)
Heather said…
Too funny!

I have no sex - urrr, I mean success - with trying to learn other languages. My tongue just trips over stuff. My husband speaks French and my daughters are in French immersion at school, so they have alot of fun mocking me when I mis-pronounce French words.
Jenn said…
you didn't want to have sex soon? It sounds like a great offer to me, LOL.

My aunt is japanese and even though she has spoken english for many years she still makes small mistakes some times that give me a good laugh.
Kila said…
LOL, I love it! What a great experience to house foreign exchange students. I'd love to do that when my boys are older. I can't get enough of other languages and cultures.
Karmyn R said…
Saw your new avatar - fun!!!

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