Why Talking to an IKEA Delivery Man Made My Month

I have had a language highlight here. I will probably try and put a couple ofthese up a month. It will be me accomplishing something language wise that was either just fun or felt like I real stretch at the level I am at.
This highlight was something so simple. It really shows that I am still basically helpless in this language. My highlight was a 30 second phone conversation with an IKEA delivery man. This incredibly simple thing was huge accomplishment. It was a moment where my phone wrong and he wanted to confirm a delivery time and date.
Normally here I ignore most calls because I could not understand whatever they are going to say but this time I answered because he called three times.
Phone calls for every language learner I know are one of the most difficult things to navigate. I think this is because of how important facial expressions and gestures are. Likely on the phone you also lack the clues of your surroundings that help you know what kind of thing this person is talking about (bank tellers about money, merchants about fruit, ect).
This was the perfect first conversation for me. The man called had a very clear purpose. I knew when he said IKEA that he was talking about the stuff that I was having delivered. As you can guess one of the things about moving overseas is a need for furniture that is cheaper. And the IKEA clearance/slightly damaged section in perfect for such items. That pro tip is free by the way.
They are hard to bring back a dresser on the metro and had to pay for delivery. So I knew they would probably be calling about it. And understanding less than 10% of what he said I was able to piece together the conversation with the few words and little grammar I know. Like the words for time, day, and that he wanted to know our apartment number. In this instance I was fortunate that my language partner spoke clearly and was patient with me.
Things I learned:
  • Start with simple low risk phone conversations. Order food.
  • Listen for key words to build the context of the conversation.
  • Think before hand (if you get the chance) the kind of things you will need to say. Use this chance to practice and see if they get you.
P.S. I do not want to make it sound like I always do well on the phone or in language in general. I had a phone call later from a food delivery man that I could not figure out at all what he was saying. Fortunately he was just on the wrong floor in our building and I was able to hear him on the phone with me a few floors up…

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