I quite surprised myself this week at Inkreadable. It’s not in my nature to brood for a very long time. It is in my nature to talk out my issues with whoever wants to listen to them. Sometimes I do it on this blog, and sometimes I do it in person with friends that I feel close to and can trust. I decided, therefore, that I was not going to worry about the upheaval that comes with English language teaching, sometimes. Like the proverbial duck, I’m going to let all the negativity slide off my back and get on with life. I can be quite ruthless when I do that. This past week I did just that.
I pushed the loss of the private student in Amstelveen into the back of my mind and have focused on the student that remains. Last night I picked up a semi private lesson from my “boss”. The semi private is a Japanese couple who tend to take classes once a week and bring their kids with them. She thought that I would be a good fit because maybe I could manage both the kids and the parents at the same time. I don’t think she realizes that I haven’t actually dealt with kids in real life in about six years. At least not in a teaching capacity. The parents have a fairly low level of English. I was agonizing over what to do with them, but I got a very nice handover email from my boss and was able to make a lesson. In addition, I went to visit a friend in town on Saturday and she gave me another idea. Apparently, in her Dutch classes the teacher would make the students pair up and sit back to back and have a telephone conversation in Dutch. As that was what my boss was working on in the last class with the students, I adopted This idea and changed a little bit to focus on their level. It seemed to work very well.
Yesterday also marks the return of my real estate executive dynamic duo. I was extremely happy to see them. But had to make the lesson a bit of a check-in lesson, to see how they want to structure the next 15 hours. One cannot live on boxing, motor yachting, and Formula 1 podcasts alone. So I spent the first half-hour of the lesson redoing a getting to know you session. I find that it’s important to do that with returning students because you don’t want to get into a situation where the student doesn’t like the lesson. You all remember what happened a few weeks ago. Well, I learned from my mistakes and in order not to have someone be unhappy with my lesson I let them help me design it. It was a joyful reunion with these two men as we have quite a bit in common. I also got a chance to hear how they spent their summers. Since they’re friends, as well as colleagues, and like some of the same things they are pretty easy to deal with. I do think I’ll have to devise more speaking activities for them. And I always have to remember that when I leave the room to go to the bathroom, they switch to Dutch. And I’m not sure how to be able to stop that trend beyond yelling “English in class, boys”.
If you haven’t checked out, beta.freerice.com You really should. If you are an English language teacher reading this blog I can’t say enough good things about this site. Another teacher turned me onto it and I’ve been using it with Felix for the last couple of weeks. It is a vocabulary program where you play a game and donate 10 grains of rice to the UN world food program every time you get a word right. I have made it a little difficult for Felix because I make him choose the definition but then I make him analyze the word: part of speech, meaning, and using it in a sentence. In this way we are building his vocabulary and having fun at the same time. I also found vocabulary.com and Dictionary.com which both have different features that are interesting when teaching. On the first website you can actually play listening games with the words. It helps pronunciation. And dictionary.com has a spelling app which could possibly help with writing.
Speaking of writing, the trend of actually writing in the bookstore continues with me being able to get 500 to 1000 words a week. This is exciting stuff. I haven’t been so productive since Nanowrimo. And I mean Nanowrimo 2011. It’s amazing how much I can get done when not distracted by the internet.
That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But, stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.