Well, it’s that time again, time for another language evaluation. These happen ideally every 6 months, but this time the schedule worked out for 4 months after our last evaluation, so after 4 months of full-time language study how’s our progress?
We’re delighted to say that there was noticeable progress for both of us 🙂 In fact, I went up one level, and Gerdine jumped up two levels 🙂
That leaves me at Capable Low (level 7/9) and Gerdine at Progressing Low (level 4/9).
It’s quite exciting to reach capable level; the end feels in sight! After getting Progressing High in my last check I remember feeling tired thinking about all the work still to do, but while there is still a lot of work to do, reaching capable level feels satisfying and like the end is in sight!
The evaluation followed the same format as before and was well attended by our Kovol friends and language helpers. First I had to introduce one of the consultants (Nate) and tell them about his family and his work in the Pal tribe (our neighbours). That was a bit of a cheaty one because Nate is a celebrity in our region and people knew him already 🙂 Following that were Grammar tasks.
I had to say little sentences like “you shouldn’t cut that tree”, which was super hard! I can say “that tree is forbidden” or “that tree isn’t for cutting” or “don’t cut that tree”, but none of those is quite what I was after. Logical relations were once again very challenging. “The pig is squealing because the boy hit it”, is a sentence I was asked to do last time and I failed it again this time! “The boy hit the pig and the pig is squealing” is what I managed. Despite spending 4 months asking “why” interview questions, I still can’t find a way to say that. People always just answered my question and they never said something along the lines of “this reason, that’s why”. I think we can use “omboo” for that as Kovol people seem to, but that didn’t work. My following attempts to say “why is the pig squealing? The reason the pig is squealing is that the boy hit him” kind of just reinforced that I don’t have that linking word. I need to make do with roundabout ways of doing things. There’s got to be a better way to do it!
After this is the telling long stories task. I had to explain the Olympics, explaining:
- They happen every 4 years and all countries participate
- Describe 2 events that happen
- Winners get gold, silver and bronze medals
- Winners get a lot of fame and honour in their home country and that motivates people to train for years to compete
Some things came across; some didn’t. I described the sprint and the shotput for events. The shotput went ok. They get a big heavy iron ball (we have a word for ball – but for iron they just use ain from Tok Pisin) and throw it with one hand. Since I didn’t know how to say “judges” or “referees” I went for “they” and said “they get the mark”. If you have a long mark you are the firstborn man; if you have a short mark you did badly.
The problem with this is that the phrase “getting the mark” does mean reading from a tape measure, but it also means hitting a target. The nearest equivalent they have is when they play marbles, and they flick the marble aiming for a hole. So they interpreted “getting the mark” to be throwing the big iron ball into the hole.
I got the medals across, but then when Jeremiah asked “and what happens when the winner goes home?” The answer was “They do the next Olympics in the winner’s country!”. Oops.
Next, I had to explain valentines day and I did a great job there; everything came across.
Then it was comparing Kovol houses to houses in Bible times, contrasting particularly the materials and the fact that the roof is flat and people go onto the roof to get cool in the evening. While speaking and wanting to talk about the flat roof I accidentally used the word naked “polonn”, which is close to “pooloonn” meaning a flat ridge. I tried to say that the PNG roofs are like a mountain and the Israelite roofs were “flat ridge”, but it came across as naked – as in there was no roof!
Later on, I said that the PNG roofs “stand up” and the Israelite roofs “sleep” which communicated clearly, but the damage was done. People were busy imagining 4 brick walls and no roof, and then people sat on top of the wall? oops
There’s still lots to learn then. Particularly we’re all really keen to find the little linking words: “because”, “with the intention to”, “should”, “must”, and “can”, all those little words that allow us to link sentences in more complex ways than “this and then that”.
Gerdine’s check lasted much longer for her than she expected, she was able to be pushed further than she thought and went up two levels. I had wandered past with Alice and Millie and heard her telling the story of what she did yesterday and I thought to myself that she was definitely at the progressing level – telling a whole story. She wouldn’t hear this though and was super surprised at her result 🙂 She’s been working hard. As part of the evaluation process, we fill in a pre-evaluation form which includes putting down our work hours. Gerdine used to get 1 hour a week for language learning. With Carol and Graham here helping out, she’s had 6 hours a week for the last 2 months! She’s excited about her progress, tired of thinking about all the work to come, and wondering what language learning is going to look like when Carol and Graham leave and the extra time to invest in language learning dries up. Good job Gerdine, and once again Carol and Graham have been such a boost to us!
Next week is Carol and Graham’s last week with us, and we’re heading out for a much-needed break. The language evaluation has actually given both Gerdine and me an energy boost and we’re motivated for language study again, but we’re still looking forward to a break. We’re thinking we might take it a little more easily so we don’t enter our break exhausted.