Monday, August 01, 2005

How was your weekend?

In language classes, there's almost always discussion of what everyone in the class did over the weekend. These conversations are meant to help students learn how to speak in the language in question; as my Hebrew professor at Chicago assured us, they are not done because anyone cares what the others do in their spare time. When I ran out of French classes to take in high school, I took a course at the Alliance Francaise, and one of the women in the class, probably in her 60s, seemed to have the most fabulous weekends ever, lots of drinking, dancing, and eating at hip restaurants, all far more exciting than the life of a Stuyvesant senior. She's the person I always associate with this pedagogical technique.

Whenever I'm asked the weekend question, I get completely stumped. I can never remember what I've done over the weekend (and no, not because it was "so good" that all memory from Friday to Monday is wiped out). Which people did I see? What did we do? I can't recall these things while searching for vocab in a new language. I could discuss my weekend in French, but only now that I'm past the stage of taking classes in which weekends must be discussed as part of the lesson. But in Hebrew, as it once was in French, it's a disaster. So I keep a few activities in mind that one might do over a weekend, things that I've done, if not over the weekend, then at least in the past week or so, and try to remember how to say these things in Hebrew. "I went to the movies," or, "I saw some friends." If I'm feeling especially ambitious, "I went to a museum." Some activities--"I went to a sample sale," or, "I baked muffins," or, "I saw a documentary about penguins," are just too difficult to keep on store as possibilities.

I'm very put off by lying, so I always feel a bit funny about saying that I went to a movie if I can't remember whether or not that happened. But "I can't remember" is a terrible answer on many levels. And, as Ariela would always say, the exercise is about forming grammatical sentences, nothing more. And as soon as I get comfortable enough in any language, I know I'll be able to effortlessly discuss my weekend as it really was.

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