Thursday, June 23, 2011

Adios Punjabi Lessons

At least formally anyway. I'm certain that this one on one teaching is not for me. I took some time to think about it and I did give the lessons a chance. Here's how it's been going.

In the last 5 weeks my teacher has came 4 times. She was supposed to be here three times a week. When she does come she runs off at the mouth about all these things and I can't keep up. Then she asks me what the Punjabi word for something is or tells me to form a sentence in Punjabi. There's no actual teaching.

The icing on the cake was Tuesday when she came and wrote down 9 sentences in English and told me that my homework was to write them in Punjabi. I told her I didn't know most of the words (much less Punjabi grammar structure) and she told me if I didn't know the word in Punjabi just use the English word and my family would know what I meant.

Now I've told her on more than one of her visits that my MIL doesn't speak any English. I'm talking less than 5 words here. This teacher still swears that if I use the English words my MIL will figure it out. Why is it we are paying her to teach me Punjabi and she's telling me to speak English. Hmm....yeah, it's a no brainer.

I get frustrated every time she comes here and most of the time it's to the point I'm crying. She's supposedly so good at teaching kids and has been doing so for over 10 years. Well, I don't doubt those kids already speak Punjabi. Because from her teaching methods I can see that she's not used to someone not already knowing the words.

Here's another thing that irks me. When I try to repeat the words she is saying (too fast btw) she doesn't bother to tell me if I'm wrong or right. When I read words on my own she only tells me they are wrong due to a difference in pronunciation. One example, the letter M. Now in America m doesn't have so many different sounds. It's pretty simple. So when I pronounced "uddam" with a strong M she said it was wrong. Ok, that I can handle. But then she said it and she still only made the m sound. I sweat it's my accent.

But, a friend helped me pinpoint where the problem is here. She's not helping me with my pronunciation. Not once did she offer or try to get me to sound that word out in the way she felt was right. She simply used a short m sound which I probably could figure out on my own but as a teacher, she should be making sure of that. And this isn't the first time.

She does that all the time. Any of her words I try to repeat, some I know were wrong for a fact because I couldn't even understand what she had said. She continually allows me to say the words wrong. I know she has some difficulty understanding me because several time I have to repeat everyday words that I know she knows. It's either my accent or something is of with the tones I'm using. I'm confident that her telling me to pick 10 words from a dictionary each day to learn is not going to help me with my pronunciation.

I told her from day one I was having trouble speaking, not reading and writing. I have that pretty much mastered (except for the rarely used letters that aren't even part of the original alphabet). I'm still not speaking the language with anyone but her and she's not offering any valuable pointers, help or teaching on that part. Once or twice to test I said the word completely wrong on purpose and she just kept on going with what she was doing as if she didn't notice.

To make things more frustrating, since I've started these lessons my MIL has gotten a little over excited and comes and talks to me more. I love the thought, but she talks so fast and so much and asks me all these questions that I just don't understand. It becomes overwhelming and I don't know how to answer her. She seems to get that though because she doesn't pay much attention to my 'han ji's' and 'nahi's' anymore lol. At least they worked for a little while.

I guess, since I was paying someone else to study on my own anyway, I'm going back to trying to discipline myself to studying my Teach Yourself Punjabi set. It did get me this far. I'm going to try to work with hubby some too. Though, he doesn't understand any of the new words the teacher has taught me. Hmmm...wonder why - could it be because she didn't teach me anything and I'm winging it? Ugh.

Hubby assures me this is how all the teachers teach here. That is really no kind of system. So I guess in country lessons are out of the question. I wish I could throw something at someone right now lol.


  1. The teachers are all like that? I find that hard to believe. Surely there is someone who knows that part of teaching the language is to work on the pronunciation. Did you try asking someone about other teachers? I hope you do not give up and try to find someone else. I myself am trying to learn Hindi. My husband's family has not said any thing about me not knowing Hindi but I wish I could speak with my MIL. It would be so nice to converse with her and to be able to ask her questions about cooking, traditions, how my husband was growing up, and just everything in general. I think I'm going to start!

  2. Those are my exact reasons for wanting to learn! Hubby told me that his whole time in school that's how all the teachers taught them. I set up a trick for him and tried to show him how it feels thinking he couldn't be right but he responded like it was second nature. So I'm sure that's at least how a lot of teachers are. I had other women tell me the same about teachers they knew as well. I'm not giving up. I'm just going to pursue a profoundly new direction, without the help of someone who doesn't know how to teach Punjabi as a second language, PSL!

  3. My suggestion to both of you is to watch movies with Eng subs. To WB, start with Hindi movies and then slowly graduate to Punjabi. It'll make things easy for you with MIL. Even if you can't converse fully in Punjabi, you'll atleast have a fallback in Hindi. Besides, there is Rosetta for Hindi, apart from the local library.

  4. Thanks Hiten. I've been watching Hindi movies for the last 3 years. I've learned a lot but I still have a long way to go as far as grammar and forming my own sentences. I needed the teacher to build confidence and to fill in the gaps from my learning books. It just didn't work out.