This week at Inkreadable, dear reader, was an exercise in time mismanagement. I pride myself, as you know, at being one hell of a time manager; able to make each and every minute productive on some level for myself and hopefully when I’m in a classroom, for my students. That of, course, goes out the window when a student has different ideas. Such was the case with my English Center student who takes me out to Amstelveen three days a week. We had our first two lessons on Friday the 28th and Monday the 31st. On Wednesday the second, I got a text from her at 10 o’clock at night giving me the suggestion that she wants to go faster in terms of content covered. The problem was, that I had already planned a lesson for Thursday and Friday in advance. You see, dear reader, I had plans on Thursday night with a friend that I have not seen in over six months. And was really looking forward to catching up. Of course, I didn’t want to have to lesson plan on Thursday evening.. But I was like a chicken with its head cut off, running around in circles trying to figure out how exactly to make this work.
I had a couple of instances of inspiration as to how to fix the issue with the student. On the one hand, I didn’t want her to feel like she wasn’t getting her money’s worth, but as much as I like teaching intensive English classes, I’m not sure how effective they are in actually helping people learn English. The principle is the same as cramming for a test. I was never one to be able to cram and pass a test. Therein lay the way to failure for me. I think language learning is the same. If you try to learn every single concept involved in any language in a short period of time, how much are you really learning? How effective are the classes? But she is the customer and unfortunately, I come from a society where the customer is always right. So I combined the two lessons that I had already planned into one and then made a lesson that was vocabulary heavy for Friday morning. It turns out that the vocabulary lesson worked a treat. I basically threw words at her randomly and indiscriminately and she really enjoyed that. I also assigned for homework an exercise to look at all the words that we have learned in the lesson and find all of their forms then choose one of the forms to make sentences with, and hopefully that gets her increasing her vocabulary at an exponential rate.
I also had to plan a second lesson with a young girl who is 13. She was supposed to take on of the Teen Intensive courses offered by TEC, but there weren’t enough students. I went through the teen course books that TEC uses to teach the teen intensives in the summertime, and discovered that this was going to be a little bit too difficult for this student. It isn’t that she doesn’t have English in her head, she’s willing to try and seems to understand when I ask her a question, but she just doesn’t have the language to answer it it also doesn’t help that she is almost painfully shy. Every answer ended up being I don’t know, even for things that were about her personally. She was able to get through the lesson that I had planned for her and I was able to get that she plays the harp and that she likes drawing. I’m gonna have to figure out how to build lessons around these two topics that aren’t insufferably boring. But really, dear reader, getting this young girl to talk was like pulling teeth.
I have heard neither hide nor hair from Katya’s mom and I don’t anticipate having any lessons with them anytime soon. I did send messages but no response. I think with schools in Poland opening it will be quite difficult for her to have extra lessons with me. Yesterday was a rather crappy day, as Felix has decided that he no longer wants lesson as hi simply doesn’t have the energy to continue, this, coupled with Alex also cancelling his lessons, was a huge blow. One that I am not sure how to recover from. I did get a bit of editing work but that was just an hour’s worth. I have started back up with my Dutch guys, and another student I haven’t seen since February is starting in a couple of weeks, so there is work but not enough.
By far, was the most interesting portion of the week was me teaching Greek to a young man from Ireland. It was an amusing lesson to say the least. Both for me and for him. While the techniques that we use for teaching all languages are the same, it’s a lot harder to do when the language you are teaching isn’t exactly your native language. Also, I can no longer say at 45 years old, that I am fluent in Greek. There is just no way. While my Greek comes out sounding natural and quick, I forget words or I don’t know words and that makes it quite difficult.But for a kid with no Greek at all, that’s OK because we started at the very beginning. With the alphabet. I got lucky because his mom made him study it before our class so we were able to go over pronunciation and then greetings. I had a lot of fun and I think he did too. His mother later assured me that he had a great time because he wasn’t making dragon noises which is what he does when he’s bored. I am going to have to incorporate that into the lessons somehow.
Over in the writing world, while we’re still not able to meet in person, we did have a zoom critique where, though we had no submissions, we spoke about writing from the perspective of either a race or a gender that is not your own, and also writing in language not your own. Which was quite interesting and gave me a lot of ideas for my own writing. Ideas, but not actually the will to write. I’m sure that will come with time and the freeing up of my schedule. You see, dear readers I have decided to take Saturdays off and maybe I will take the time to do some writing then.
That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But, stay tuned. As always there is more to come.