TEC Tackle, New Client Nonstarter, and a Writing Reconnection

Team Sports have never been my thing and I’ve never been able to understand American football in my life. It seemed to me that the rules of that game were always changing. But it felt particularly apt this week.TEC has taken the decision to do the sales themselves and not pay outside people to do it. I still have scheduling work that I do for them, but it was a significant portion of my income. I am cynical enough that while I think that they claim that it’s bad sales, I feel like they’re looking for an excuse to reduce their staff and their cost. But they have also rolled back their prices to the customer as well. The scheduling work this week however was quite plentiful with some intensives that needed to be scheduled as well as new students that also needed to be placed. But that could change next week. What’s been a challenge is trying to get rooms booked as one of the locations that we use is often not available when we need it. And I am finding that this is increasing across all of the locations that The English Center uses for their classes within Amsterdam. It’s become very difficult to book rooms on short notice. All of this does not make up for the fact that I will probably be working fewer hours for the English Center and I don’t have much to offset that in terms of clients both TEC and private.

I have two clients at TEC who are shortly going to finish up with me. I think one has five hours and the other has nine and a half. Flowently is my most consistent gig at the moment. The kicker is my private client world. A few weeks ago, I was approached by a client who wanted me to do lessons with a friend of hers at her office. I went on Thursday and had lessons with both of them. We had a wonderful lesson with my normal client. I met her friend and she also seemed to like the lesson. Over the weekend, I duly started prepping for everybody’s lessons so that I could be fully focused on prepping for the Imres lesson on Monday the 5th of June. On Sunday I got a text from the client with whom I had done two hours on Thursday and she said she was not going to be taking any more lessons. It was not a complete no as she said she wouldn’t have any lessons during the vacation time and would contact me after. But this leaves me with a time management dilemma. I do not want to travel out to the middle of nowhere just for three hours because it takes three hours to get there. I would have happily traveled there for five hours, however, and I accommodated these 5 hours by moving things off my schedule on Thursdays. Important things that I could have kept. One of which is a therapy session via Zoom in the States which is important to me. I was quite angry, but at least the other client is willing to go online. My Japanese client has about 14 hours left of her 68-hour package. Shinwei and I continue our lessons and I think we will continue for quite a while to come. So while it’s not all bad, my access to clients could certainly be better. And while I am making strides with that having written up a new text for my website as well as sending it to a translator, I have not yet started the campaigns for the website. But hopefully, I’ll be able to get some traction once the campaigns actually begin. Fingers crossed.

A bright spot for the week was being able to reconnect with my writing. While I wasn’t able to connect on Thursday, I was able to reconnect on Saturday and actually get some writing done during the day with some writer friends who meet sporadically on the weekends. It was just nice to sit in a place that had lovely views of the water and commune with people who are like-minded. I also was able to get a clearer picture of what I want to do with the novel and where I want to go with the next book because it looks like this is going to be a series. Nerys and her crew are by no means done.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Camera Commotion, Website Rewrite, and Writer’s Workshop

It has been quite a busy week here at Inkreaable, dear reader. In the run-up to yesterday, I was quite busy trying to plan all of my lessons through the next couple of weeks. By which I mean through the first week of June. I am having cataract surgery on June 2nd and I’m not sure how much I will be able to be online planning lessons for that first week. It will be enough trying to remember all the drops that I will need to take once again. Teaching-wise, it was quite a busy week as my Polish client and I met for five hours last week. We are scheduled to meet for another five hours this week. One of those lessons will be in person at her office. And it’s not just her but also a friend of hers who would like a couple of hours of lessons and then she’s going to see if she wants to continue. I hope she continues because it’s worth it for me. But if not my Polish client and I have agreed to go online. My Japanese client headed off to Japan on Sunday and we had a lesson online yesterday morning. She’ll be away for a month and that means that we will only have a few lessons when she comes back at the end of June, in order to complete her package. I think she is done on the 11th of July unless something else happens. This past week she called out sick and so I had to push her lesson to the end of the package.

This week we also started an experiment at Inkreadable, whose concept has changed over time to include English language lessons. I concentrate both on general English and business English but have decided to add a third lesson type to the roster: lessons on the go. As the name suggests this will be a lesson at a location in Amsterdam like an art museum or other tourist attraction where we work on both functional language such as asking for tickets as well as vocabulary building using the exhibit around us. Eventually, the plan is to adapt that for children as well but only if there is interest over time. It was interesting trying to walk around the city and take a video at the same time. I did this with my student Shinwei, and Jasper, who acted as the cameraman for part of it. We went to an exhibition called Van Gogh meets Rembrandt which is a juxtaposition of Van Gogh’s paintings and Rembrandt’s paintings projected onto the walls of the Noorderkerk. Jasper himself was not impressed and let us know shortly after we exited the exhibition. But I did get some interesting videos and when I was doing the videography the sound quality was quite clear. We weren’t able to get as clear of quality with Jasper’s camera because he was probably picking up quite a few sounds around him as well as the fact that he was walking backward slowly and was about a foot and a half away from us. We came to the conclusion that we would probably need to buy a microphone package and a decent set of video editing software. Luckily my student from Japan is going to help me when she gets back. Anything has to be better than Jasper trying to walk backward and film at the same time. It’s going to be a complicated endeavor for me as I am not particularly tech-savvy and I don’t do very well in front of the camera. But I sent her some videos and maybe she will be able to splice them together or tell me how to splice them together so that we can make a reasonable film. It will be interesting to see if it works.

In a bit to get more clients from my website, I have been working on the content of my website to better fit the search parameters that will get me noticed by people. To that end, I spent Sunday trying to rewrite my content to give a better idea of what I am trying to achieve both for adults and kids. I spent about three hours editing the pages to a standard that WordPress will consider them “good”. Whether it has any effect on my business will be felt when we actually start advertising the website on Google. I sent a message to the translator to find out if she could give me another quote on the new website as there may be more words to translate and also the words that I was hoping to hit in the translation. As of this writing, I have not heard anything, but I did not expect to as she is involved in a big translation project that will take up most of her week. That means that the earliest I can expect to hear anything would be over the weekend at the earliest.

This week the writer’s group met at my house. We switched things up, quite literally, as we had drinks and conversation first and then writing. Over the weekend, several of the existing members of the group (some of which I’ve only ever seen once) splintered to form their own writer’s workshop group that will meet in-person and online. I will be intrigued to see how it turns out, but am not sure that I myself have the space to do another writing workshop. I will be living vicariously through the other members that’s for certain.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Planning Powerhouse, Train (station) trauma, Website Woes, and a Writer’s Group “Rager”

There’s a lot to talk about here at Inkreadable, dear reader, as you may have guessed from the title. It’s been a good week in terms of planning as I was able to plan through Sunday of this week. That meant that over the weekend I could spend a Saturday relaxing and then Sunday got back into planning but planning for the week of the 22nd. It’s been a little bit fraught in terms of planning because I now have a private client that I see almost every day in fact it’s a 7-hour-a-week commitment from them. I managed to get the Polish client in Den Haag to commit to an hour a day online Monday through Wednesday and Friday. We will meet in person on a Thursday. She also got me a second client on a Thursday to come to her office. That is certainly well worth it as they are paying for my travel and my rate of 55 euros an hour. The other client is a beginner but I have not yet tested her or talked to her to be able to get a sense of where she is. And Evelina was not sure herself. Yesterday I asked Evelina if she would give me her friend’s email and I sent her a proposal. I also had my last lesson of the current package with Shinwei and he renewed it with me.

But commuting out for the in-company is not all it’s cracked up to be. There hasn’t been a week in the last two that there hasn’t been some problem. Aside from the tea spilling incident, all of my issues have been transport-related. Luckily none of them have been learning issues. Last week, I managed to get a ride to the station because one of my students lives that way and has said that I will get a ride with her to the extent that she is in the class. But once I got to the station the fun began. I tapped myself into the platform. Only to see a Phalanx of police officers rushing by me. Going the opposite direction, coming down the stairs was an employee of the train company who physically turned me around physically to get me out of the station. Fortunately, I have enough Dutch to understand that and he explained as well that there was a man with a knife upstairs on the platform. We were told that we needed to exit the station and that we needed to go across the street as well. With no idea how long it would take for me to get home I gave a call to Jasper to let him know that I had no idea what time I was going to be there. It ended up only being about 10 minutes of waiting and then we were told we could go back up. I still got home at about 8:15 which would have been the time that I had gotten home anyway. But, man, never a dull moment in Lelystad. Well, until yesterday. Yesterday, at last, was uneventful.

I have been spending some time on my website over the last few weeks. What I’m trying to do is get enough content on my website so that the words for English lesson, English teacher, and business English are prominent and then I have engaged a translator to translate my whole website into Dutch. Once that happens I am going to run a campaign to see if I can get a bit more business of my own. Right now what I focus on is business English and general English for adults and children. I’m also going to try and do some lessons on the go for both adults and children where we go to a museum or an attraction and we learn vocabulary words that are appropriate for that attraction. I’m not sure if it will work but my English teacher buddies have assured me that that’s a great idea. If only I could get the people who host my website to get on the ball and change my rates so that I can start advertising that would be key. One of the ongoing explorations is to find out if I can get the most current post of my blog to post to the website and update it automatically each week. Theoretically, it should be possible but Jasper and I were not able to figure out how to do that over the weekend. It is enough that I have started fixing the SEO content issues for my website. But it is a job and it is quite difficult because that is not my strong suit.

This week saw one of the biggest attendances of the book club in recent months. We were 13 people in total and that may not sound like a big number, but we sit at a rectangular table. There is a second rectangular table there that we sometimes can use but it’s often taken by another group. This week that was indeed the case. But as we got bigger my enterprising group managed to connect the two tables by adding a round table in between them and we slowly started encroaching on the other group. And while it wasn’t a rager in the Animal House sense, we did get quite a bit of work done and we got some interest from our neighbors at the table which is always nice. My own non-writing streak continues as I seem to be using my writer’s group just to plan my lessons but it’s a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the weekend a bit more.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Incompany Induction and Commemoration Day Confusion

Last week and yesterday, dear reader, was a good indication of how in-company courses should go. The previous Monday had not gone as planned as I managed to spill coffee on someone in the classroom. It was rather nerve-wracking. It was unfortunately the student that I was worried about because their level was far too low for the class. And as it proved over the course of the week I got an email from the student saying that she was going to stop and try to get an easier class. I am letting Flowently deal with that as it’s not my purview to manage all of that. Just as I would have English Centered deal with it if it was a group class that wasn’t working out. Once I got over my angst about being in a company versus in a classroom, everything was familiar. After all, they’re just people with the same quirks as other people. And teaching is nothing more than connecting with the people that you’re teaching and listening to their needs.

I found that homework is a great way for me to get a sense of how my students think as well as how they write. I noticed that they all had a couple of things in common as I was going through their homework. The first is they all do a lot better than they think they do. But they all make some very common mistakes. My students seem to confuse using the present, the past, and the present progressive when writing about their jobs. So yesterday I started the class off with a 10-minute intro into the difference between the tenses and how we use them in a business context. I also worked on the conversation questions at the back of the first two chapters that I assigned for homework. In the second class, we did more idioms, and thankfully I have found a website with 172 business idioms so I’m just going to use them through the rest of the course. As per my students’ request, I worked on useful phrases for emails and how to improve their syntax. In order to start preparing my students for their presentation we also watched a presentation and discussed the elements that make it a good presentation. I also left some time for them to give me their feedback so that I can shift my lesson prep as much as I can so that everything that they want to cover is accounted for.

This past Thursday was the fourth of May which is the commemoration of the people who died in World War Two in the Netherlands. There are speeches and moments of Silence at eight o’clock. I knew this, dear reader, but I somehow thought that it was not a national holiday and that the library would be open. At 3:30 on Thursday, I was in the center of town going to a bookstore and I noticed that there was an increased police presence and that all of the arteries into the main square of Amsterdam were closed off to both pedestrians and vehicles. I had the foresight to check and see if the library was open and I’m glad that I did because the library actually closed at 6 so I sent a flurry of messages on WhatsApp to the writers’ group telling them to come to my house. And then I ran home as quick as I could and tried to get snacks for people. I’ve been here six years and I should always remember that the month of May has a lot of National Holidays that I need to be aware of in case the library closes so that we make a plan. Mark and I agreed that that should be so but it was very interesting trying to get 12 people into my house. I’ve done it before and it’s not the most comfortable experience in the world, as I just don’t have enough space. And I’ll have to repeat it next week as well as the 18th of May is the feast of the Ascension and is a national holiday in the Netherlands. I find it very funny that most of the National Holidays in the Netherlands are religious in nature as the next May holiday is Whitsunday and Monday and those are also National Holidays. I think the best idea is to try and plan the year in advance so that for any holiday that falls on a Thursday the writers’ group just ends up at my house.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

Planning Panic, King’s Day Commotion, and Hague Hyjinks

It has been, dear reader of, a fairly difficult week at Inkreadable in terms of preparation. The biggest stressor is, of course, the new class that I am leading at Imres in Lelystad. The trouble started when I sent an email on my Inkreadable account to the company asking for a projector and a whiteboard in the room that I will be using, only to realize that I never got an answer from anybody. I sent another email on Thursday but was not sure whether there would be anybody to answer it as generally, people take the Friday after King’s Day off. And so it proved last week. It all worked out in the end as on Monday there was indeed a whiteboard and projector in the room. I got there about 45 minutes early so that I could practice using the projector as that’s not something that I have so much experience with.

But that was only one source of panic. By Thursday I had finished most of the slides without bells and whistles, but I realized that instead of taking me two days each class was going to take at least until the end of the week to plan. So it seems that my two days per class estimate was a bit optimistic. I hadn’t finished the first class until Sunday early afternoon. What saved me was that George and Jerry were not on my schedule as they were away on vacation with their parents. Which suited me just fine. Sunday was a beautiful sunny day in Amsterdam but instead of going out, I sat in the house in my pajamas trying to figure out the Bells and whistles of my presentation. I also spent time making notes for myself for English language extras that I thought might be interesting for my students. I also started planning for the second class. I realized fairly quickly, however, that it’s not possible to plan the course completely as I need to get to know the students. I had a lovely chat with Anya the owner of Flowently yesterday morning and she gave me some pretty good tips about how to engage the students. And as always my friend Jolene is an endless source of fun things for the classroom. I also had the students make triangles with their names so that I don’t have to constantly remember. By far the best suggestion that she gave me was having the students do a grammar toolbox for themselves so that they know where they struggle and so that I know how to help them if they need individual help. I discovered that the bells and whistles of the presentation would take a little bit more time than I had, so I took a page out of the ESL brains handbook and just made slides with the answers.

King’s Day is the biggest flea market and party in the Netherlands. I knew this, but still made my Japanese student come to the City from Amstelveen for a class. It was probably the biggest mistake that I could have made that day. Needless to say, we didn’t get much class stuff done even though we talked a little bit about King’s Day, and while I think my student was okay with the class, I was not. I felt like I had not been at my best. I will never do that again. I knew it was going to be a crush of people but that didn’t really stop me from being anxious. After all, when you are smaller than nearly everybody else in the country you have a very justifiable fear of being trampled.

I went to the Hague for a new private client on Friday. While I have not started advertising my business it seems that word is getting out. She contacted me by phone at the beginning of the week and we met on Friday as I had time. It looks like she’s going to turn into a fairly steady daily client, with four days online and in person for one day a week as an intensive since the Hague is hard to get to. She seems to be about a B1-level student so we will have to see how she copes with my lessons.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Restless Return, Pressing Preparation, and a King’s Day Cancellation

Greetings, deer reader, from not-so-sunny Amsterdam. I spent the weekend trying to get out from under the chaos that happens at my house when I go away and Jasper is left on his own. You might think it’s not such a big deal but it very much is and I spent all of Saturday just trying to get the house back into a state that I could handle. On Sunday I was able to do two things that I wanted: the first was I was able to finish up with my plants and I now have 13 pots planted in my house. That is the sum total of pots that I had so my spring organization is almost finished. What remains is to take care of my balcony with its lovely canal view. The other thing that I had to do on Sunday was start preparing for the in-company with Imres.

I had actually started preparing for the course on Friday when I had a meeting with my friend Krys who also works for TEC and Flowently. She showed me the slides that she made for her in-company courses and I started to panic. I am technically savvy in some ways but not technically savvy in others. Where I struggle is to make slides that look nice and professional and how to animate those slides as well. I decided on Sunday after I struggled for about an hour trying to animate something that I was going to get the content on the slides and plan the lesson and then try to add the bells and whistles later if I could. I managed to plan the first half of the lesson for the first of May. I completed that lesson yesterday. Given that it’s probably going to take me about two days per class that means 24 days of actual lesson prep which means I should be finished with the last lesson after class number four. I’m trying to make lessons for multiple companies and so I’m keeping the slides fairly general. For the first lesson, I planned an introduction round, an icebreaker activity, followed by 10 business idioms divided into two slides and then asking questions using the idioms. Yesterday I decided that the second half of the class after a five-minute break would be the difference between formal English and informal English with a focus on writing emails. And then perhaps a video where the students analyze what the presenter does right and what the presenter does wrong. Followed finally, by a list of Tina’s tips for email writing. And since I’m using the business English handbook advanced, I’m going to assign homework from the book. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep this format for the whole time but at least it’s a start. I am also going to open up the field to the students themselves to invite their feedback as to the types of things that they’d like to see in the classroom. I am also going to tell them that they each have to do a presentation in the class as well, and that will start in week 3.

Focusing so much on the preparation for Imres wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t done all of my weekly stuff for the English Center and my private clients the week before. If I can maintain the momentum then it’s okay and I’ll be able to focus just on Imres during the week. It helps that Alessandro and I will be finishing our courses this coming Friday so I will have a little bit more time. What’s also good is that Jean is traveling again and so I won’t be seeing him until probably two weeks from now. In addition, I have already prepared my Japanese client’s lessons through May 2 and my client in The Hague as well. So if I can keep this momentum then I can keep my time management terror to a minimum.

This week, dear readers, is King’s Day in the Netherlands and what that means is that everybody goes ape s*** crazy and wears Orange on the 27th of April in celebration of the King’s birthday. It’s a fun (and funny) holiday because you walk around and people sell their old stuff on the street. I once saw a single shoe for sale, apparently, the mate had gone missing. It was a vintage shoe, however, so maybe someone actually picked it up a. Because King’s Day is considered a national holiday, the library is closed. So I had to cancel our writers’ group on Thursday evening. That kind of suits me fine because I can continue planning lessons for Imres instead of writing. It’s also nice because my Japanese client and I are doing a lesson on the go so I have planned some information about King’s Day and then we’re going to walk around the city and she’s going to use her English.

What would be amazing, dear reader, is if I could stop second-guessing my planning and prepping and just let myself think that everything is going to be fine in terms of Imres. But the bright side is that I’m trying to use the anxiety to up my game and make interesting lessons that my students will like. After all, I have been passively aggressively told that I am an old-fashioned teacher, that I lack self-awareness, and that I am very negative with some students. I don’t really believe some of those things but in the interest of making sure that they aren’t true, listening to my students is the best way to do that.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Reliable Routine,Intensive Inducement, and Greek (teacher) Greetings

It has been, dear reader, a fairly uneventful week in Greece. I have been able to spend a couple of hours a day doing English Center administrative work and I’ve largely been able to keep up with everything. In terms of teaching, it’s been fairly consistent. I’ve only had Shinwei and my Japanese client of my private clients and in terms of The English Center, it’s only been Alessandro with pronunciation. Heleen and Jean continue to be absent from my schedule and I cannot seem to pin them down for lessons. Heleen has been changing lessons and we will now be meeting on the 26th of April. As it is, the 26th is a change from the 20th of April which is a change from the 13th of April so as you can see Heleen tends to be quite flighty in her scheduling. I also have not seen the hide or hair of Jean as he is traveling. He has let me know that he would like some lessons this coming week but as of this writing I have not heard from him so I am not sure that I’m going to be able to give him a lesson when he wants.

In terms of the admin that I do for the English center, midweek was a little bit touch and go for me as I was not able to do anything right. I kept sending out emails with the wrong information. I hate when I do that. I hate that because someone will always catch the mistake before I will and send me a passive-aggressive email. It’s not a fun situation in which to work. But I have to put up with it because, of course, there’s money involved. Admittedly, it’s particularly bad because I know I am in the wrong and that makes it even more difficult. As much as I try to do everything perfectly there are simply some mistakes that I just don’t catch. It’s a very stressful situation when whatever you’re doing takes you twice as long because you’re worried that it’s not absolutely perfect. But I find the routine to be relaxing and so it gives me a bit of structure for the day.

I hadn’t heard anything from Flowently about the in-company lessons until late last week. It’s for a pharmaceutical company that has its headquarters just outside of Lelystad. It’s about a two-hour commute each way if I was to take public transport to the office. It turned out that the company wanted an hour and a half on a Monday afternoon. I told Flowently that I was not going to be able to work for just an hour and a half as I feel that an hour and a half is just not enough time to give a quality lesson. Instead, I told the owner that it would be better if it was two hours or more. She didn’t think that the company was going to do that. I told her to keep me in mind for anything else that came across, especially in Amsterdam. On Friday this past week, she got back to me and said that they were willing to do two hours and asked if I was willing to teach for them. She said that the price was going to be 60 euros an hour which is ten euros more than they normally pay. I have agreed. If you amortize the 120 euros it ends up being about 20 euros an hour. Which sucks. But I look at it this way, it is a new experience doing in-company lessons, which The English Center will never give me. So from the first of May until the 17th of July, I’ll be going to Lelystad and teaching business English to a group of eight people. It’ll be interesting to be in an in-person classroom group class again.

The other notable happening of the trip is that I met my student Odhran’s other Greek teacher. He lives in Chania and we met for a coffee yesterday. It was very difficult because he doesn’t know that I was actually the first Greek teacher Odhran had. He works at Elinopoula which is the school that I went to and got to meet the staff when I was in Athens in January. I played it like I was just a family friend who just did conversational Greek with Odhran but really we have proper lessons where I learned to teach him concepts, at least to the best of my ability in Greek given that my own Greek isn’t great. I’m grateful to know that Odhran is actually still doing at least the Greek platform even if he’s not with me at the moment. He is up keeping the language which I find gratifying.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

Private Client Possibility, Gastro Grimness and a Greek Getaway

Greetings, dear reader, from glorious Greece. I have taken my laptop and my lesson planning off for 12 days with my family for the Greek Easter holidays. I got here yesterday and the trip was not without its drama. But more about that later. The week at Inkreadable was quite quiet in terms of lessons with quite a few of my students away. Shinwei remains in Taiwan and so his lessons continue to be online. Because I am away my Japanese client and I are continuing our lessons online as well and that makes four lessons total while I am away. I must admit it is very nice not to have to travel to do lessons. In China, my students proceed well and they have just had a major English exam that both did very well on and were very happy. I have changed tack with them a little bit. One week we are doing the book that we have and the following week we are doing another lesson, usually a teen lesson from Linguahouse. They seem to find the new format interesting and at least it’s not totally about Grammar and writing which can be kind of boring. That’s right I said it. Writing can be kind of boring. There is the possibility of a new client in Gouda. She’s a Polish dentist and would like lessons once a week for 3 hours and she is hoping to combine it with a friend of hers for a further 3 hours. I might do that kind of traveling for 6 hours at 55 Euros per hour if they pay for my travel as well. As always, I’ll keep you posted. There is still no news regarding the In-Company with Flowently.

I’m sure you’re looking at the title of my blog today and going what the hell is gastrogrimness. No, it isn’t some new cafe at the Amsterdam Dungeon. It isn’t often that I make up terms but in this case, it seemed necessary. On Thursday last week, my body decided to tell me it was unhappy with me by not allowing me to eat. It started dear reader, at the writers’ group. Everything was fine and then all of a sudden I started feeling quite poorly. I ate one french fry on my stomach started to hurt quite a bit. Not an acute pain but just as if I had eaten too much. The issue continues until now. It’s not very easy not being able to eat anything. Especially as I’m in Greece and the food here is amazing. I’m finding that I’m only able to eat in small bites and I get full very quickly. It might be great for weight loss but it’s not so good for one’s morale. Hopefully, it will pass soon, and if it doesn’t once back in the Netherlands I will deal with it at the doctor’s office. And this time I won’t take no for an answer which is what I normally do with the doctor.

My trip to Greece was not without its own eventfulness. The trip itself went fine, but when I got there I was exhausted. My dad picked me up from Heraklion which is a city about two and a half hours away from where my sister lives. My dad was about twenty minutes and once he picked me up, I was informed of the itinerary. We went to a winery that is owned by a friend of his and spent the afternoon. While we were there we got to go to the house of Arthur Evans who became famous for the excavations at Knossos. But he is not the person who discovered the palace. The actual discovery happened about 20 years before his arrival but because the Island was under the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman viceroy who owned the land where the palace is today didn’t want it excavated. So Evan’s got the credit and the original excavator is only now getting his due. While all of this is interesting, it was exhausting. But the fun was not over yet. On the way home my dad was stopped by the police for a driving infraction. S*** got serious as they took his license away, and kept my sister’s registration. They gave him a paper that allowed him to drive the rest of the way home, but he is not allowed to drive for 30 days. The problem with this is he is leaving the day after I do to go back to the States, and there is no guarantee that he will get his license back. These are EU procedures, but the small fry trying to exert his power on the road was both amusing and horrifying to watch. Moral of the story is when driving in the EU be very very careful.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But, stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Breathtaking Breakthrough, Book BS, and an Interesting Interview

This week at Inkreadable, dear reader, was the stuff of teaching legend. At least for me. It’s not often that I get to really see the progress of my students because they are mostly high level and the jump in higher levels is much smaller than from low to high. But this week I realized when my student went from a beginner level to an intermediate level. My Japanese client and I had been working on expressing regrets which are quite difficult using modal verbs, the expression I wish, and the expression I regret. She was able to express the things that she regretted easily and fluently. Of course, she’s all of 30 years old so she doesn’t have that many regrets. This is the first time that I have felt that I have really accomplished something as a teacher with this client. These moments don’t happen often but when they do they make me marvel at the adaptability of people, and of course, the human brain. I had done a lesson with Shinwei about the human brain and people being able to change the way they think and the way they do things with ease. That the brain does accommodate change quite easily. And that age doesn’t matter, the brain can still learn. This was especially true of my Japanese client. Every once in a while people really do surprise you. And really it’s not because of my teaching it’s because of my students’ motivation and her willingness to learn.

I also got positive feedback from a client regarding my pronunciation lessons with him. He is Italian but the galvanized me enough to design a pronunciation course (specifically for Dutch students at the moment) but this lesson can be adapted for various languages. Most languages do not have a th like in then or a th like in thin. So that is something that can be adapted to nearly all pronunciation lessons. If I start getting more clients for pronunciation then I will just adapt the template that I have into something that can work for multiple languages. It’s been an interesting weekend trying to do that work.

There weren’t many highlights on the English Center administration track this week. I continually do the things that the English Center sends me and I continually try to keep up with the things that I set myself. I got a little behind on Friday but that’s okay because I spent the day catching up yesterday. The only hiccup with the English Center currently is that we are still expecting three books for the group course that we are teaching to Ukrainian refugees. I got an email from the bookstore that that book will probably not come in at all. I sent the email to the English Center and yesterday we tried to figure out what to do. They wanted me to try and get the books but if they’re not printing the books how do we get them? I was a little bit flummoxed. The solution we came up with was to try and get a slightly higher-level book in the series. I have a telephone later today to see if I can sort this out with Waterstones.

I do not have any experience doing in-company courses with the English center at all. I’m not sure if that’s because they simply don’t have enough or because they don’t feel that my skill is good enough for in-company. I suspect given what they think of me that that might in fact be the case. One of my friends who I actually recommended to the English Center did me a – likewise good turn and recommended me for Flowently and their in-company courses. I had a wonderful meeting with the owner of Flowently and we seemed to click quite well. We talked about the differences in education and teaching in the Netherlands and what I think the educational system is like. She opened my eyes to quite a few things, especially with regard to her grandchildren who are Primary School age. It was a very interesting meeting and the job that she would like to hire me for also sounds kind of interesting. She would like me to do an in-company for a business in a city called Lelystad. If the company accepts the proposal, the lessons would start on the 25th of April and go on Tuesday afternoons for 15 weeks. That means that I would be commuting three hours a week to go out to these lessons. It’s not terrible. I would still get home at 7:30 or so. The pay is decent as it’s about 50 euros an hour plus travel. Having said that I am not sure what to compare it to because I only have them as a reference. I don’t know what people make for in-company at the English center, however, I do know that the English Center pays for lesson prep and I don’t think that Flowently does. Fluently also has a tutoring side but I am not interested in that one because they only pay 25 Euros an hour to the teacher for in-person lessons. That’s lower even than the English center.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always there is more to come.

Admin Angst, Class Ball Dropped, and Course Contemplation

It has been, dear reader, a difficult week at Inkreadable. It’s not so much that the work was difficult, it’s the same stuff that I’ve been doing for the last six months. But there was a day last week when I just couldn’t get anything right. Over at The English Center, I had to place three students with teachers, and to one of the students I sent three terribly written emails. In addition, it’s become very hard to find teachers who are willing to work. I’m not sure if that’s because the pay is low or because teachers are doing other things, but where we used to have 5 or 6 teachers competing for a job we now only have one person piping up that they can do it. I managed to place all three new students with teachers but I have not heard from one of the students as yet. I sent her an email and then as per the English Center’s instructions sent her a text to her phone number. I know that she saw the text but she hasn’t responded yet. At least she doesn’t have her lesson until the 17th of April. But I am very surprised that she hasn’t followed up already. But what makes me anxious is when I get corrected emails from the English Center. And then I feel like a recalcitrant child.

My own clients proceed well for the English Center and since it’s mostly pronunciation and accent reduction it’s quite easy. I quite enjoy pronunciation lessons even if the package is quite small. They tend to be 12 hours and are rarely ever renewed. I have two such clients currently. There is, of course, Heleen, the client that was gifted Marco’s (her brother-in-law) package and now there is Alessandro who is Italian and so we are working on reducing his accent. What’s interesting about him is that he has barely an accent, to begin with, which is actually more difficult than if he was just starting out and had a very thick accent. At least with thick accents that we try to reduce you can see the progress much more than if it’s a smaller jump. When I was researching how to reduce Alessandro’s accent and the mistakes that an Italian speaker might make in English, I quickly realized that he doesn’t do a lot of these things. One thing that is going to be very hard to reduce is his inability to say the unvoiced TH at the end of words and in the middle. He has the beginning down pat. The voiced TH like that in these, that, and those remain a problem no matter where in the word it appears. I think we’re going to have to keep working on that throughout the course.

In my private client world things proceed quite nicely with my Japanese student who has agreed to go online for the time that I am in Greece. She has no trouble with my lessons and I check in with her frequently to make sure that she is continually satisfied. Shinwei keeps booking my lessons and we are going online with him as well because he is going home to Taiwan for a month and coming back at the end of April. While I love our in-person meetings because they turn into dinner and we are actually friends, it’s also nice to sometimes be online and not have to go anywhere at all and teach one’s pajamas. But my private clinic world was not all that it’s cracked up to be this week. I really dropped the ball with a client. He is another pronunciation client with whom I do a maintenance program. That means that we meet once a month. I forgot that we were supposed to meet during the week of the 14th of March. The thing is we never scheduled the lesson. I spent a few days over last week worried that he wouldn’t get back to me and that I had lost a client. But it all worked out in the end and as a bonus, we also spoke about giving his partner lessons.

They’re thinking to move to New York and my client is currently in negotiation with a company to go work with them for about a year. His girlfriend is going with him and she would like to reduce her accent so that she is more understandable to listeners there. I have not yet met her as we haven’t had an intake yet but she wants more structure than her partner does and so I am currently making a syllabus, especially for her and I’m going to suggest 12 hours. I’m then going to suggest a maintenance program with her as well until they leave. We will see how it works out. The plan is to do exactly the same sort of lessons that I’ve been doing with her partner but to coalesce them into a format that she can follow. The upside of that is that if the whole course is planned out then I just have to schedule the lessons and follow the syllabus. Which means less weekly prep for me. My deadline for that is the seventh of April which is when I have my lesson with her partner.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.