Chapter 19: No Right on Red

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Swedish Again: Chapter-By-Chapter Guide

Questions for Understanding

  1. Which Swedish driving rule did “everyone” mention to Anna?
  2. When it came to practice driving, which opportunity had Anna missed?
  3. What type of animal attacked Anna when she was out walking?
  4. Why did Anna’s mom stop suddenly and stand still at the subway station?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1. Describe Anna’s driving lesson. What were her challenges? Based on your own driving history, do you think you would have been afraid of unmarked intersections, too?
  2. In Sweden, environmental driving is part of the requirement for getting a license. Do you think that’s a good idea, or is it unnecessary?
  3. Anna did not know her mother was afraid of escalators. What is one of your own fears that you don’t think your family (or close friends) know about?
  4. Anna and her mother had trouble using the public restroom due to technology. What are some ways that apps can help us? Have you ever been in a situation where an online system caused you problems?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • Many people say that driving becomes automatic after a while. Do you agree with that? How hard do you think it would be to learn a different way of driving?
  • Once again, Anna takes life as a challenge, saying, “I had to do this. I had to show myself.” When life presents challenges, do you tend to react the same way? Why, or why not? Do you have a story to share about that?
  • Anna’s mother does not use the modern Swedish word fika for a coffee break. She prefers the older term kaffe (which means “having coffee.”) Think about your day-to-day language choices. Do you speak like someone of your generation? What are some examples? What are some terms you don’t use because they would make you sound older or younger, or because you are just not comfortable with them?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“…the thing they harped on…” = the thing they nagged me about (p.193)

“…an ugly old troll…” = a ugly creature in Swedish mythology (p. 194)

NOTE: This word is used differently in the online world. There, it can be a noun or a verb.

“my stick-shift practice car” = The car has a manual transmission. It is not an automatic, which is popular in the USA. (p. 194)

“…when they’re totally pissed off.” = when they are very angry (p. 195)

Grammar Focus:

Expression Location with Prepositional Phrases and Comparisons

When you read a story, it is common to read a description of a scene. Before the action begins, it is important to know where you are in the world and to form a mental picture of that place. Two ways that locations are expressed are through prepositional phrases and comparisons. Look at this example from the first page of Chapter 19.

The driving school was located in a small strip mall  in a residential neighborhood. I felt like a nervous kid as I passed the practice cars parked outside — clearly marked with big yellow signs for safety — and walked through the glass doors. The interior looked like every automotive establishment I’d ever visited, with a couple of cheap sofas, a coffee table covered in well-worn magazines, and posters of classic cars taped to the walls. I could have been at Firestone in Seattle, or the place where I bought new tires, or even my mechanic in Gwangju.

  1. Prepositional Phrases: Sometimes it’s hard to know which preposition to use for location. Students often ask, “Should I used ‘at’ or ‘in’?” The answer is not always simple, but in general, “in” means you are inside something while “at” is a more general term. For example, if I am “in my house,” I am specifically inside, but if I am “at my house” I could be inside or outside the house. The best advice is probably to follow the common expressions that people use. Here are some popular ones:

IN: in my room, in the classroom, in a residential neighborhood, in WA state

AT: at home, at my house, at North Seattle College, at school, at my place

2. Comparisons: Writers often compare a new place to another place which they think the reader could be familiar with. In the above example, the writer mentions “Firestone,” which is a popular automotive chain in the US. The writer also mentions a place to buy new tires and a mechanic. This completes the description which began in the sentence that begins, “The interior looked like…” Also, as you can see in this paragraph, it is not necessary for every comparison to start with “looked like.”

Answers to Part 1

  1. “No right on red.” In Sweden, drivers are not allowed to turn right when the light is red although this is a common practice in American driving.
  2. She could have driven alone for a year with her American driver’s license, but she didn’t.
  3. A crow.
  4. She was afraid of taking the escalator (afraid of heights.)

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