The universe has aligned itself such that I'm considering taking Norwegian language classes this fall at the Scandinavian Language Institute in Ballard (Seattle), Washington. The Institute, which was begun 30 years ago by Ed Egerdahl, has been attended by hundreds throughout the Puget Sound and beyond. Below is a piece that I wrote in 2004 when I first encountered Ed and his talent for making the language come alive. - Luci
Coffee Table Norwegian
“What’s interesting to me is that students that I’ve met along the way, I’ve met them where they are, not on their way to something else. In all the years that I’ve been doing this, I have several dozen students who have been with me the entire 20 years. We’ve simply grown old together.” Ed reminisces. “I’ve been with students as they’ve gotten married, had their babies, buried their spouses, and married off their children. I’m now into second and third generations with the same families.” He continues, “Together, many of us have buried those who have been students – it’s simply part of real life."
Ed teaches 170 students each quarter in 14 classes, taking each class on, what he calls a ‘wildly interesting ride.’ The ride is his unique style of teaching – different from the traditional classroom instruction at most colleges and universities. “Its been a long time ago now, that I decided the only way I could keep doing this was if I could be learning something at the same time that I’m teaching.”
His week begins with the advanced class ‘talking about what Norwegians are talking about.’ For example this fall his students discussed the Norwegian Women’s Soccer team who won the Gold at the 2000 Olympics and the talk of the Norwegian Crown Prince who is contemplating marriage to a woman who has a child from a previous marriage. As the week progresses Ed continues this dialog with the other 13 classes. This helps his students to build their vocabulary and develop their understanding of Norway and Norwegians – today, not just a snap shot in history.
Luci Baker Johnson