IELTS Idiocy, Palestine Powerplay, and China Connections

It has been a very interesting week here at Inkreadable, dear reader. My private client world continues to be a bit quiet with people still on vacation for the rest of the month. Shinwei has decided to take a week’s vacation and so I will see him next week. That leaves Galini, George and Jerry, and Odhran. Those lessons are not terribly difficult and so I’m able to maintain setting up the week’s lessons the week before. It allows me to have some semblance of a weekend even if I do have to teach on Sundays. Yesterday almost did not happen as there was a power outage in Beijing. But all’s well that ends well, as the power came back on and we were even able to have the class a half hour early. We even got a chance to have the lesson early. I wonder if the teachers who still teach for VIPKid were affected by the power outages in Beijing. And whether VIPKid will compensate the teachers for the problem. I suspect they won’t.

Things were also pretty interesting at the English Center this week. I reconnected with Isabelle, and her goals are still the same. She wants to improve her fluency and general spoken English. The problem is that she doesn’t have much opportunity to practice, so the first thing I did was gave her some tips as to where she might be able to find people to talk to. The English Center also gave me a licensed account for Zoom and I was able to stop using my private account for those lessons. Yesterday I started with a new student who booked 4 and 1/2 hours of in-person lessons to practice for the IELTS. I’m not sure why he thinks that four-and-a-half hours is enough time. Especially if he wants to take the academic IELTS which is actually extremely difficult. I have taken it and I was only able to get a 9 and a half out of 10 across the board. And I’m a native speaker. I will do my best in the 4 and 1/2 hours but the English Center also wants me to try to convince him to take more lessons. I’m not sure why the English Center wasn’t able to sell him a bigger package. And it wasn’t really clear from yesterday’s lesson. What is clear from yesterday’s lesson is that this student maybe more of a problem than I suspect. On Sunday evening he sent me an email changing our time from 9 in the morning where we have a room rented to 11 in the morning. We did not have access to a room, so we met in a cafe instead at the location. In the first lesson, I did tell him that 4 1/2 hours was not enough. Not, at least, if you wanted to make some real headway with the exam. We’re going to do the package as is and then see where it goes. The Palestinian Girls were due to start in the middle of August but as of this writing, I have no idea what is happening with them. I did contact them and their father to find out. Their father says that they are in charge of the lessons and schedule. I hope that once they get back to me, I have the time to teach them because their schedule might not mesh with mine, particularly if they want a Thursday lesson. Thursdays as you know are sacred. I do not teach on Thursday evenings. But all of these schedule shenanigans have taught me that teaching time is only valuable to the teacher.

George and Jerry’s aunt in the US contacted me, saying that someone in China wanted to take lessons in English. I contacted the person interested in lessons fairly quickly. Only to be told that it has not been decided when the child will take lessons or even if they will take lessons. This kind of run-around is extremely frustrating. You either want to listen or you don’t but don’t ask as a maybe because it gets the teacher’s hopes up. I think it’s that way for any teacher. I told them no problem and I said that they should contact me once they’re ready. But I’m certainly not going to wait around and not fill my schedule up. It’s definitely a case of you snooze, you lose.

It was a quiet week in terms of the writing group. I continued to summarise my novel and I’m quite happy to see where it’s going. I’m also intrigued by the glimmers of a series that I’m starting to see through this exercise. While I am not quite in the planning stages of subsequent books in the series, I’m slowly discovering the merits of planning, at least on some level.

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

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