Teenage Trauma, Policy Problems, Covid Concerns, and Writing Restoration

It has been quite a difficult week at Inkreadable, dear reader. Jasper and I went to see his aunt Carla on Saturday as she had moved to hospice earlier in the week. She’d been sick a long time and passed away on Sunday. While her passing was not a total surprise, no one expected it to happen quite so quickly. Jasper went to see his Mom and other Aunt on Sunday. I couldn’t join as I had too much on my plate to cancel. Yesterday morning, Jasper tested positive for Covid. He took two self-tests, and then went to a Ministry of Heath testing site to get an official result. I tested negative but decided to self-quarantine until this Saturday. I cleared my schedule of all in-person activities for this week, and hope that I don’t test positive on Saturday.

I met my Palestinian clients on Wednesday for the first time. Krys did not exaggerate about the girls learning conditions or their levels. Wesam, the older one, did a decent job with the present tense and was able to talk a little bit about her routine but she does lack the vocabulary to be able to express herself. It didn’t help that she kept getting interrupted for the first 20 minutes by a little brother who sounded quite angry. Leen is at a slightly higher level than her sister. She has a little bit more vocabulary and is able to express herself with a little bit more fluency. After the lesson, I spend about ten minutes filling out a progress report which I sent to their father. I assigned them each five sentences using the present tense. I think because they’re at such a low level I am going to just teach them the present and past simple and progressive for grammar over the next couple of lessons and then try to figure out where to go from there. I had forgotten how difficult it is trying to keep teenagers motivated. I don’t actually have a parent sitting next to my kid while I’m teaching them. Dare I say that I miss teaching VIPKid? Actually, I wouldn’t go that far. Apologies in advance for those teachers who read my blog and still think that VIPKid is the bee’s knees. But I foresee quite a few problems with keeping the girls interested. They like things that are quite difficult to find ESL lessons about. After all, many of the lessons about shopping are about sustainability and these girls are not there yet in English.

With Covid on the horizon, I moved everything online. I had already moved ShinWei to Wednesday evening because we were going to be in Amersfoort for the day. It’s a shame because we were going to schedule lunch at a Chinese restaurant so that I could try some dishes that I have never tried before. I was quite looking forward to it, and as long as the dish doesn’t contain anything too interesting, I am game for most things. With Harumi off my schedule and all my in-person things off my schedule, the week is looming with lots of space. I think I’ll plan a diplomacy workshop that I thought to pitch to TEC, and work on the workshop on writing that I have agreed to give next month under the auspices of Girl Gone International. I feel a bit of a fraud as I am not published, and don’t count the poem that I have in the Scottish anthology, A Spoonful of stories.

I’m also coming up on the end of Zander’s current package. We had our penultimate lesson yesterday. I was gratified to hear that he wants to make the time to continue. And I’m finding the online is working well for both of us even if he’s just up the road. I mean that literally. He’s a 15-minute walk. While I do not mind coming to him, with Adriana on my schedule that’s a little bit difficult at the moment. Adriana is the sister of my former student Claudia from the English Centre. I am teaching her three days a week or would be if she actually came to class three days a week. It seems, dear reader, that she is always suffering some sort of technical issue. A couple of weeks ago she had gone on a trip to her parents and was afraid to drive home in the middle of the night so she spent the night. And they have no internet. I can certainly understand this, what with the roads being not the safest in the evenings in Colombia, because of, shall we say, some political unrest. Read: the drug cartels roam the streets at night. So every time she misses a lesson I add it to the end of the package. We were supposed to end at the beginning of April, we are now ending in the middle of April. I am not sure if I can even enforce my own policy of 24-hours notice or you lose the class because I couldn’t with her sister and that was mandated by the English Center. Since I didn’t tell her the policy, more fool me, it will be impossible to enforce at this point. George and Jerry have started a new book with me from National Geographic called Great Writing. We are using it primarily as an access to vocabulary but at this point it feels very easy for them. I am hoping that it will get a bit more challenging for them. I have tried to make it challenging by expanding and getting them to talk about the words in the context of their own lives as well as evaluating the writing in a more coherent manner. But it’s been a bit of a struggle. The top struggle for me right now is Greek. While Odhran’s parents are happy with me, I find that I am not happy with the books that I have bought because I feel like they don’t have a structure. Odhran is reading and can get most of the words in Greek but still struggles with word stress. To be fair, he struggles with that in English as well. Despina at Lexis Amsterdam is usually pretty good for resources and help but she is away at the moment so he is going to have to wait until she’s back and I start taking my own Greek lessons. In exchange for English language social Media help, Despina has agreed to give me Greek lessons. Because I am according to her, a native speaker of Greek there is no group lesson that I can take with her and she has to design it for me. I’m looking forward to it because I will be able to ameliorate my Greek and maybe it will help Odhran as well.

I’m sure you’ll remember, dear reader, my panic over losing a good chunk of writing from my novel in my previous post. It took me all week to figure out whether I had the piece of writing somewhere else (I did) and whether I could integrate it into what I had started writing when I thought I had completely lost the passage (I could). I will say that I found it quite tiring trying to merge new writing with old writing. By the end of Thursday I was not able to write anything else. It was fortunate that we have found a very cozy pub about a 6-minute walk from the library to go for drinks. It’s much nicer than the previous week’s location. Sunday riding this week was also online. It was that session that I was able to to continue from where I had left off a couple weeks previously. I have to s I’m quite pleased with my progress even if I had a major freak out when I thought that my writing was lost.

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

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