Monday, August 4, 2008

Swedish Lessons (almost)

JoeToday my Swedish lessons started… er, sort of, that is.

You may recall that I attended a meeting about taking Swedish classes at the end of June. At the end of that meeting, we were told that we would get a letter detailing the where and when of the class before it started on August 4th. Fast forward to last week, at which point I still had not heard another peep about the class. I started sending some e-mails, but got no response. Finally, Friday afternoon at 3:40 I got a response, telling me that the class started Monday at 12:30, but it had moved from the ever-so-convienently located Polacksbacken to an industrial park on Fyrisborgsgatan—all the way on the other end of town. No explanation was ventured as to why I had not previously been informed of this little tidbit.

So today I made the 30 minute bike trek into Boländernas (plus an extra 10 minutes for the time spent getting lost in the city forest). After some initial idle standing around, we were broken up into two groups of about a dozen each and escorted to a couple of classrooms. There we were presented with textbooks, notebooks, mechanical pencils, and 4-ring binders, and given a schedule for the week. Then there was another prolonged explanation of the course structure, after which I still don't understand how it's supposed to work. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that all the explanation was given in Swedish.

Here's what I could figure out: the class is mostly web-based. There are lessons and exercises online, as well as tests (some essay tests, but also some which require you to record yourself speaking and submit it to an instructor, or to make an appointment to have a Swedish conversation with an instructor via webcam). In addition to this, there are class times. Most of the class time is spent in individual activity, but some of it will be lectures. Some students (those immigrants required by law to take this class, such as political refugees) have to be in the building 30 hours per week; the rest of us only need to come in when we need help, or if we feel like it. The rest can be done online. Except for the lectures, I guess. Not all of which are mandatory. And some of which may be available online.

However it's supposed to work, today's main task was to get us all registered on the online system. Just to prove how new the new classroom was, the whole time I was getting registered there was a guy standing on my desk, armed with a pair of scissors and a cordless drill, doing something to a junction box in the plenum space above me. The registration process involved all of six steps, but each step involved the instructor wandering around for five minutes getting everyone on the same page, so it took half an hour.

That accomplished, we broke for fika, and to let the other students come in to register. There was coffee and mineral water, and cinnamon rolls and clementines. After half an hour of that, we headed back into the classroom, where we waited for another fifteen minutes, at which point our instructor came back, said, "If you are registered for the web course, goodbye!" (in Swedish, naturally), and left. Day over, a few minutes shy of 2:30 PM. I tell you, I don't know how these Swedes keep up with this hectic pace.

Tomorrow we learn how to use the website. By Monday, we might learn some Swedish.

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