A surprise every day

S Aufrecht

Our usual Danish teacher, Bent, was sick today, so we were split into half and merged with regular level 1 classes. Apparently there are two level 1 classes on the same schedule as our phonetics class, so I wasn’t just recycled to phonetics out of convenience, I was explicitly placed in phonetics before I can proceed to level 2. Anyway, the teacher in the new class was more confident than Bent and at first it was a nice change (not that Bent isn’t confident, but his body language sometimes undermines his authority) but later it seemed like this guy had a bit more of an edge whereas Bent is invariably polite and exceptional at responding to negative student reactions with more positive teaching. It did mean that the semi-lame 2 minute presentation I prepared as homework was moot, and I’ll have all weekend to master the new vocabulary Lars gave me so I can use it in a more extemporaneous presentation instead of a memorized speech.

One student in the class, Tordi, I thought introduced himself as French, presumably a Turkish immigrant since he doesn’t look especially Gallic or speak English with a French accent. He is older, in his fifties or maybe sixties, and often struggles in class. In particular his English is very weak, so he doesn’t always understand instructions. He was speaking Russian with Andrei the Russian at the second break so I chatted, mostly in English and a little Danish since my high school Russian seems to have been flushed completely by the succeeding three or four new languages I’ve failed to learn, and Andrei translated when necessary. Turns out Tordi left Afghanistan as a refugee in 1997 and is waiting for things to stabilize enough to go back. He is an ethnic Uzbek, from the north of Afghanistan, got his PhD in cosmology in Leningrad, and taught at Kabul University. He speaks Uzbek, Russian, Turkish, and Farsi, and if I understood correctly also Pashtun, Tadjik, and maybe German, and broken English. Quite possibly he’s the smartest guy in the room. Still has trouble with the glottal stops, though. I suggested he had trouble with Danish because his head is simply full, and when Andrei laughed and translated Tordi agreed.