Familiar Flipside

Whenever Jasper goes away on a business trip, his goodbye is always “see you on the flipside”. I am pretty sure that he knows what it means because he’s got all sorts of random things stuck in his head. I, however, had to look it up. It is a musical catchphrase used by DJs in radio to mean “see you later”, and comes from the backside or the B-side of a record.

As you might imagine my flipside has to do with Carlton. Or rather, his flipside. Last Tuesday I walked into his house to an attentive, quiet child. Remember my dictation dilemma? It turned out that it wasn’t a dilemma at all. The dictation that I gave was perfect. We were able to spend an hour entirely on dictation, and while it wasn’t a perfect performance, it was damn near. I am not sure, but maybe Carlton had had a stern talking to (or meds). Near the end of the lesson, he proclaimed, “This is the best lesson I’ve ever had with you. A little flustered, I responded “Thank you. But what makes it so good?” His response was surprising. “It’s a quiet lesson and you’re not being strict. I looked at Carlton in disbelief. “Carlton”, said I, “I’m only strict when you don’t do what I ask you to or you goof off”. The only glitch in the lesson was when I asked him a question and his response was “none of your beeswax”. I am old enough to remember using that phrase which teachers myself and know that is it is extremely disrespectful. So kind patient teacher Tina went away and firm teacher came back. To my surprise, Carlton was contrite and apologized. To my further surprise, he was upset that we are now down to our last three lessons. And proclaimed that he didn’t want to stop learning. This puts me in a bit of a pickle. As you might imagine, I am conflicted enough. On the one hand, I like Carlton even when he’s being cheeky, but on the other hand, it’s five hours of my time where I could be doing something slightly more lucrative and not sitting on a tram for two hours every Tuesday evening.

Felix is also back from home and we spent a wonderful hour and a half lesson on Thursday last week going over tenses, watching some videos, and hearing all about his trip home. Our greeting to each other was exuberant in the way it only a person who is Latino, Mediterranean, or North African/Middle Eastern can appreciate. It was a wonderful class. For the first time, I actually used my technology in the classroom. It was an interesting experience because I am not so conversant with using tech for the adult learner.   That’s not to say that I am a Luddite, But usually, I have my students do exercises on a particular thing. If you haven’t found it, check out Englishcentral.com. It is a website with videos and lessons, mainly for adults, but has levels and tests and all kinds of exercises. It is fabulous. The best thing about it is that it has a pronunciation tool where you speak lines and see how correct your pronunciation is. There’s something wrong with the algorithm as even I as a native speaker of English, rarely got 100%.

Over at the English center, things are winding down with various students. My two real estate executives came to class on Monday of last week, as did my high school student who is moving to Britain to study film. It was her last lesson and I was sorry to see her go but we promised to stay in contact. My Spanish student had to cancel last week but I saw him last night for our last lessons. I let him dictate what the lesson would be, and so we spent the last lesson on contractions and pronunciation review.

This past week on Friday I had my first four-hour intensive for the English Center. I  thought that it would be very difficult but it passed very quickly. We talked about collocations, did a bit of grammar, writing correction, and talked about how to improve presentations in English.  I didn’t feel tired at all, which was fortunate. Because straight from that class, I went for drinks with English Center coworkers. I met some really interesting new people and connected with many of them. Including a woman who is from the States, and works for SayABC, a VIPKid subsidiary company. It was interesting to hear her perspective on online teaching because I had forgotten why I got into it in the first place. As I told her, the honeymoon has been over for me for about two years, and I’m trying to head to an amicable sort of separation. It was, of course, half in jest, but I now want VIPKid to become the side job that I use to make a bit of extra money on the weekends if I want to, to be able to do nice things.

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

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