Friday, September 3, 2010

Listening to Norwegian

We have satellite TV in the house, so we have been watching a combination of Norwegian programs (in Norwegian, of course), UK and US programs dubbed in Norwegian (the kids’ shows in particular are dubbed), and UK and US programs in English with Norwegian subtitles. It has been very good for our language learning to watch the programs in English with Norwegian subtitles. We are getting better at picking out words, particularly written words. Many words look somewhat similar to their English equivalents (or, in some cases, a German equivalent). I like the programs for children, too, because the language is simplified and they speak a little slower.
Still, it makes for some interesting TV watching situations. The other night the Professor and I were watching a program about a Norwegian football (soccer) star who goes down to South America (I think Brazil) to coach teams of adolescent boys, many of whom live in poor conditions. We actually were quite engaged in the program, but we were also laughing at ourselves, because much of the program featured people speaking in Portuguese, with Norwegian subtitles! It’s surprising what you can catch from the pictures and context, along with the few words we recognize.
This week, we attended a parent meeting at the local school for the parents of children grades 1-4. There was about an hour-long presentation during which they introduced the teachers (I believe they told their names, what they taught, and how long they had been teaching), the principal spoke (there was a long discussion having to do, I think, with traffic and parking patterns around the school, which are complicated this year by a big construction project going on), and we heard from the assistant principal. We didn’t understand much, but you could tell by the dynamics of the group a little bit of what was going on. We were impressed by the number of parents who attended, in many if not most cases both parents attended. After the large group meeting, we met in the classrooms with the teachers according to which grade our child was in. Again, we didn’t catch a lot of words, but we could tell they were going over the school schedule, the curriculum and academic standards set up by the government, classroom rules, etc. It was fascinating to observe the dynamics. The group of parents seemed very friendly and good-natured. At one point there seemed to be a more intense discussion about something (we would have loved to know what!), but all was handled in a very congenial atmosphere. The teacher did spend a little time with us afterwards to make sure we had some idea of what had been covered. After a couple of hours, though, I amazed myself by coming away with an overall sense of what had been going on, even though I knew few details.

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