Wie alt ist alt? – How old is old?

The holidays can’t come fast enough.  My students really tax my patience at times.  Occasionally I get a bit agitated, possibly also a bit loud.  Some of them complain that now that we have started a new book we are back to introductions but others still don’t get it.

“Please introduce your partner,” I said to Ahmed and he looked at me with a completely  blank.  Karim next to him whispered to him and Ahmed finally said: “Karim.  From Iraq.”  No, no, no – in complete sentences like we practiced: “This is Karim.  He is from Iraq.  He lives in Neustadt.” Ahmed looked at me and nodded: “Karim. From Iraq. In Neustadt.”

That’s when I had a little rant. Which nobody understood because I used lots of complicated German words and I talked rather fast. Ahmed looked offended and told me in measured tones: “I – not quick.  I slow.  I old. Not young.”

“Ahmed, how old are you?” I asked.  It took him a bit but then he answered: “Fortyeight.”

Not old enough, Ahmed!  I’m fifty nine.  It’s only an excuse if you are older than the teacher!

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Die Ferien können nicht schnell genug kommen.  Meine Schüler stellen meine Geduld manchmal wirklich auf die Probe.  Gelegentlich rege ich mich ein bisschen auf, vielleicht werde ich auch etwas laut.  Einige beschweren sich, dass wir, da wir ein neues Buch angefangen haben, wieder bei den Vorstellungen gelandet sind, aber manche haben das immer noch nicht drauf.

“Bitte stellen Sie mir Ihren Partner vor”, sagte ich zu Ahmed und er sah mich verständnislos an.  Karim neben ihm flüsterte ihm etwas zu Ahmed sagte schließlich: “Karim.  Aus Irak.”  Nein, nein, nein – in ganzen Sätzen, wie wir das geübt haben: “Das ist Karim. Er kommt aus dem Irak.  Er wohnt in Neustadt.”  Ahmed sah mich an und nickte: “Karim. Aus Irak.  In Neustadt.”

Das löste dann bei mir einen Wortschwall aus.  Den keiner verstand, weil ich viele komplizierte deutsche Wörter benutzte und sehr schnell redete.  Ahmed wirkte beleidigt und teilte mir in gemessenem Tempo mit: “Ich nicht schnell. Ich langsam. Ich alt. Nicht jung.”

“Ahmed, wie alt sind Sie”  fragte ich. Nach einer kurzen Pause sagte er: “Achtundvierzig.”

Nicht alt genug, Ahmed! Ich bin neunundfünfzig.  Die Entschuldigung gilt nur, wenn man älter als die Lehrerin ist.


6 thoughts on “Wie alt ist alt? – How old is old?

  1. That’s difficult. Maybe he is only medium-old (younger than I), but perhaps the poor man has had a lot of trauma that makes it harder for him…? I used to be very smart intellectually, but illness and accidents plus trauma plus aging have made my abilities worse than they used to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know that many of my students have a hard time studying. Trauma is one aspect. Never having western-style schooling is another, as well as being out of school for a long time. But I know that the time they have for subsidized classes to learn German is limited so I have to urge them, motivate them as good as I can – with humour and sometimes with cajoling them and sometimes by playing the strict teacher. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is such a hard situation, and I can understand that you want to help tham make the most ofit. It may also be that different mindset of school, as you say; I went to a Tibetan Buddhist teaching the other night and expected to attend the full weekend, as I used to do, which is about 7-8 hours of intensive listening while sitting on the cushion, and usually most of it is in Tibetan (not my best langauge) with some translation. I found that the first night, a mere two hours in English, was so difficult that it took all i could muster to get through it, and I was too ill to attend the m=next couple of days despite my expectation that I could still easily do it despite some health concerns. maybe this is similar to this person and others, who are shocked that this schooling is For Real and huge efforts must be made to get what they can from it. Good luck to all of you!

        Liked by 1 person

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