Pronunciation powerhouse, daunting dilemmas, and writing wrangling

It’s been a decent week at Inkreadable. For the rest of my teaching friends, it’s been an emotional week because they have had to say goodbye to students that they have been teaching for years. You see, this is the last week that teachers could book for the final week of VIPKid, at least with the kids. That’s right, a definite shut down date has been given and it is 5 November. Because I haven’t been involved with VIPKid for over two months, I don’t feel the same anxiety. I could frankly care less. I have the WeChat accounts of the ones that I have a relationship with and that is enough for me. What has changed for me, is that my availability for the English Center has increased. And while I am not working the 20 hours a week that I would need to feel secure in Amsterdam, I am doing that between English Center and my private clients.

Over at English Center, I have one Greek girl that you know about, Eleni with whom I am working on pronunciation. And tomorrow I will have a second student for pronunciation. This one is Dutch. So it’ll be interesting to see and compare what kind of mistakes Dutch people make versus Greek people. I already know of one. The TH sound in Dutch is pronounced like a hard T. And there is no sound like in the word think or in the word then. In addition, the F and V sound are so similar in Dutch, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish them. Greek doesn’t have these problems because are all of these letters are pronounced on some level. Where Greek has a problem is the S. The Greek S is pronounced somewhere between the American S in serpent And the sound in sheet. It is both too soft for the S in serpent and too soft for the SH in sheet. Another problem with Greek speakers is the I. The word hit most of the time will sound like heat. So it’s been interesting trying to isolate the sounds and work on them. Other problems include the TION sound and how we pronounce the X sound. For the Greek speaker, H is also a problem..

The week opened up a couple of dilemmas. Over at the English Center, a potential client was offered on the WhatsApp group to the teachers but the catch is you have to go to The Hague. I received an email from the owner of the English Center telling me that I would be a really good fit for the student as I have an MBA and I am fairly experienced in talking about real estate. The problem is it’s location. The English Center does not pay for time but it does pay for transportation. Still. The dilemma was do I travel nearly 3 hours round-trip for an hour and a half class? Some of you might think that it’s a no-brainer and would say no. But in this economy where you’re strapped for cash, you actually think about it. The pressure led to me agreeing to teach two Thursdays in November. Because Brenda offered the group rate and is trying to convince the student to do two hours instead of an hour and a half to make it more worth it for the teacher. I am sharing the student with a teacher who is already located in the Hague but either cannot or does not want to do all of the lessons. They are having a really hard time finding people for the rest of these student’s lessons. You see he wants an hour and a half every day in November. I do not necessarily find it the most effective way to learn English, but I need the work.

This week at the Conversation Playground was a little bit difficult. While classroom management was not an issue, I still feel that the kids are not having any fun nor can they have any fun when their level is too low. If you don’t have the language to play the game how is the game fun? In last afternoon’s class we did a mystery-solving game and a Verb relay race. For the mystery, we divided into two groups of three. While these games worked reasonably well I am not necessarily convinced that the kids are learning anything. There is still a hell of a lot of Dutch being spoken between them. More and more as I teach these courses, I realize that the owner of the conversation Playground likes to micromanage everything and I’m also conscious that I could not do this for more than one or two hours a week. Because I can keep my mouth shut only so much. If you don’t allow the teachers to teach how are the kids learning anything? Lingueo has kind of fallen by the wayside. I had a one-off lesson with a student last week but have since closed off the schedule. My plan for them is to open on a week-to-week basis and see if I can get anything. At least until I come back from Christmas. I’m still not sure whether I should work from the US or not. I’ll be there for almost a month. And the only way it will work is if I can have my students change their schedules so that I work in the morning but not at 3 AM.

Jasper was quite sick this week with a cold. It wasn’t Covid, he tested. I had to quickly pivot and find a location for the Writers Group. We went to the library where it all began. It’s like coming full circle. Things I learned at the library this week: I have gotten old, People are stupid, and there’s no such thing as Covid. Or at least that’s how it felt. You see, the library was open as it had been pre-pandemic. There were no mask requirements, there were no QR code requirements. You could just walk in and sit at a table and write. While I am all for the world opening up again, it was not very nice to be sitting at a table where many people were coughing and sneezing. There was not a mask in sight nor was there any social distancing. All of this is in advance of a new press conference scheduled to take place this evening y and to possibly reinstate some of the measures of the pandemic. I am hoping that the measures are for people who have not been vaccinated. After all, it’s your choice to be vaccinated or not but then you have to comply with the rules based on that choice. This week the writer’s group will meet at my house. I have a friend with me this week who I met at the Edinburgh Writers Group so it’ll be interesting to see how she feels on Thursday when all we do together is sit and write. The Edinburgh Writers Group was a critique group. I am not sure how she will feel about it but it will be interesting to hear her thoughts.

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

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