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  • A few weeks ago when I arrived, the first word I learned was saib. Today, it was the same.

    We sat in a makeshift classroom in a large Afghan house that was transformed into a language school a long time ago. The room quite bare, a small table, a few chairs, a white board and several red containers. I had no idea what to expect.

    I was quickly oriented by another expat who in English explained that for the next 8 school days I would not be allowed to speak in class. "Listening precedes talking" she said. The whole world would benefit from that knowledge, I thought to myself. She explained that the objective for the next eight classes was to try to overcome the "wall of noise" that a new language is for every new student.

    My teacher came in quickly and we began our lessons. The curious red containers held play food and mini figures and lots of pictures. She would say a word and show me the object several times. As she added more and more objects, we played the memory game--I would point to the objects I heard her say. It was quite uncomfortable at first. If I can't speak, how exactly should I respond. Very soon though, it was time to leave. My two hour lesson flew by so quickly.

    When my driver picked me up afterwards, I was more than proud to show him my new picture book, pages and pages of vocab that I would learn over the next few weeks. He could teach me now too because with this style of learning, it does not matter if you cannot read English.
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