Avtor: STEPHEN MAYLAND
At the beginning of the new year I take the new calendar and mark out the important dates of the year. Each year brings new challenges, new goals and ambitions. Each year I prepare myself by breaking the calendar into smaller sections to see what is going to happen and when and in some way prepare for that event. Sometimes events are not known and these fit in when they come up. Some years the same things repeat themselves and yet each time they are never the same. It is a small thing and also helps me to deal with big events or small matters in their own time and way.
It is in this, dealing with small matters that can have impacts greater than themselves. Making a simple decision to travel abroad to see the possibilities, saying yes to a job in another town and learning to make Turkish coffee, transported myself from England to Škofja Loka and enjoying a good cup of coffee. I chose to come here to see what could happen. A risk that led to an interesting life and many experiences. A series of doors opening, opportunities taken and some learning along the way has shaped and coloured the last 27 years.
I had a suspicious mind about learning Slovene.
The idea of being British and learning another language does not really go hand in hand and yet I have travelled, moved to another country and speak what may be my fourth language. Small decisions go a long way and one decision to learn Slovene has had an impact on myself in ways I could not forsee. I had a suspicious mind about learning Slovene and what would happen to my knowledge of English...would it be replaced, forgotten? No. Nothing of the sort. I learned Slovene in a classroom full of other foreigners and by the time we finished, new friendships were made and knowledge gained as we had fun and laughter every week during our lessons.
My knowledge of English was not diminished but enhanced and shaped by learning Slovene. As I started to teach English in the classroom, I began to understand the mistakes made and the fear of the learner in the classroom. So I learned over time to put the language learner at ease and helping to reduce the fear of being in a classroom by using various types of humour in small ways: ask a Slovene when on holiday what they like to do? And the answer comes back: lie 'na' sun. What is 'na'? 'in' or 'on'- to a native speaker 'on' could be a very hot experience and a bit silly to hear. A small mistakes, lots of laughs and acceptance of the wrong use, next time corrected and less fear in using it again. Try asking: Where are you? I am __ Bled...somebody may have very big feet and standing 'on' Bled (picture it!). It is a skill to learn and a small phrase, a wrong reply can be turned into a bit of fun and help the learner be at ease and to be at ease with the learning process. Observing the learner go from learning with fear to conversing with ease is an achievement that takes time, patience and some manipulative work by the teacher and in the long run rewarding.
Coffee has become a small part of my daily routine.
And so I go to my coffee, a small cup of rich brown liquid, hot and full of flavours. To a Brit not your usual choice as tea is the usual choice of beverages or a pint. And if you ask a local if they would like to go for a drink, coffee is the drink. Elsewhere, something else. Coffee has become a small part of my daily routine that I look forward to and miss if I do not have the time. To take time out to enjoy the small pleasures such as a cup of coffee: Turkish, espresso or even a cappucino, adds to the day. There are simple ways and complex ways to enjoy something as simple as a coffee or learning a language. I have some understanding of where coffee comes from and it's history as I do of English. And that is an appreciation worth the journey.
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