Development of my English!

In the two years previous to my coming to the UK I had experienced on three occasions being  landed in a community where I knew nobody, Gudum, the high school and the army but there I could communicate. This was worse, a community where I knew nobody and could not communicate either. This was one of the worst experiences of my life, but an experience which taught me a lot. It was not helped by the fact that it irritated Major Large who after one month in desperation said “You will never learn to speak English!. Mrs. Large was easier and had great patience, and she was particularly pleased  that I could skilfully handle her cows. I carried with me at all times a small pocket dictionary and a small book to enter new words I had learned. I had great difficulty when one day Major Large referred to an awkward screw on the tractor as  B- I could not find the word in the dictionary but was sure he was right and my English name for screw was Bugger. Apart from using swearwords Major Large spoke excellent English and loved to tell stories about his time in the army. At about 9 o’clock Mrs. Large would go to bed ready for early morning milking then Major Large would talk on for at least two hours of stories often beginning with – when I was in Kenya or when I was in Africa. It did not seem to matter that I did not

understand as long as I listened intently and interestedly. No doubt I heard the same stories several times but these were my English lessons! Sometimes I asked him to show a word in the dictionary then he carried on. I did improve so after two months of hell I began to be able to construct sentences and explain myself. In fact, after six months Major Large said I spoke better English than his adopted girls. My spoken English was of course much better than my written English as Major Large taught me nothing of that.