My pencil is yellow
Until very recently, all of the nannies (caregivers) for my children have been Russian. My daughter’s first nanny was Russian by coincidence. Then one recommends another, etc. All have also been recently "off the boat" and have had very little English. The interesting part is that they have great backgrounds. You see, they come here legally with work permits, but often cannot work in their specific field because of licenses and such. For instance, my son’s first nanny, now remember he his severely disabled, was a recent immigrant (about a month) from the Urals in Russia, and just happened to run a neonatal intensive care unit in a hospital there. Not bad, eh? My daughter has had doctors and nurses, both have had wonderful, intelligent, loving women who happen to speak very little English, to start.
A new nanny just started with my daughter a few weeks ago, she is with us just on Saturdays. My guess is that your Swahili is better than her English. Definitely "worse" (less? lower?) than any of the others when they started.
I just so happened to have taken six years of Russian in school (grades 7 – 12). Not a great student of languages, I did ok and have always been told my accent is great. Not a big help if you don’t know the vocabulary …
There are words they forget to teach you in high school Russian. I did not learn "seizure," "diapers," or "poop." Funny enough, "poop" is "ka-ka." But I did learn how to say "My pencil is yellow." Have not used that much in real life.
I recently went to the party of a gentleman turning 75 (actually the dad of a past nanny who is very close). Everyone, except me, was Russian and everyone was giving a toast. I went to give one, and even though most of the crowd had some English, I went for it in Russian. I began with (in Russian), "Please excuse me but I only know 40 Russian words." And then gave a short toast.
As I was walking back to my seat, on of the guests who knows me very well said "You know more than 40 words." And I responded, "Yes, but "40" is the largest number I know how to say in Russian!"
That’s hilarious! I took Russian in high school–only one year unfortunately because it wasn’t offered in my schools until that year (I moved a lot). One of the only words I remember is “pencil”. I think I can remember “also”, “sick”, and “home”, but that’s about it. So, unless by chance you have a pencil that is at home and also sick, I’ve got nothing to say.