Pronunciation Problems, CYA comeback, Private Pullbacks, and A Failed Feast

I no longer have a weekend, dear reader. At least not for the moment. I started with three new students this week. Although to be accurate, I started with two new students and Marco. You’ll remember that Marco was the student who I thought I was starting with last week, but due to an email miscommunication with the dates, we had to postpone to this week. I’m not sure that Marco can be considered a new student entirely, as we had one class, but he isn’t exactly old either. I guess he’s somewhere in the middle. We reconnected and had a really nice conversation. I was able to get the details about why he was ill and thankfully his illness is manageable. But it’s interesting because it was initially a misdiagnosis. He was told he had stomach cancer, but instead has sarcoidosis which apparently, though serious, can be quite manageable if treated in the right way. At least that’s what I hear from Jasper’s dad, who also had the illness for a while.  I was very touched that Marco opened up about it. In terms of his learning, we’re going to have to start from the very beginning and what I did for the class was actually quite okay. We did a second intake class and I reacquainted myself with what he finds difficult, and I think I have a plan. He did promise to watch a series and talk to his girlfriend for 15 minutes a day in English. We’ll see if he does it. Apparently, she is quite keen to practice English with him. The second new client that I have is in software sales and advocacy. This means that he tries to both sell his product but also troubleshoot it.  Hence the videos he does.   I approached his lesson from the wrong angle. What I did was. I approached it from an acting angle and what I should’ve done was just approach it from an accent reduction angle without thinking that he was going to try and use different accents.  I also tried to use movie clips and while that was marginally more successful, I’ve learned from Jasper, that Dutch people simply cannot make the TH sound, not the hard-voiced one or the soft voice t It doesn’t exist in Dutch, so it’s really hard for them to make it. I asked a writer friend of mine how come she didn’t sound Dutch when she spoke English and her explanation was that she cared. Jasper‘s ability with a TH is different because he lived in the US, but he remembers being made fun of when he was in grade school about the way that he said, father and mother. My third new client wants help with presentations and describing trends. We meet on Saturdays, with an exceptional Sunday thrown in so that I can do a scavenger hunt on 12 November. 

Slava and I are two classes away from finishing our 20 hours. Kerry talked to his boss and enquired about whether he would continue and the tone of his boss’s email was that we should ensure that in 20 hours he reaches level B1. That’s all well and good except that it takes 160 to 190 hours to go from A2 to B1. So I had to get proactive and cover my own butt, by talking to Kerry to tell her that I was trying my best, but Slava was not able to use the language outside of our classes. She told me that she was going to have Brenda contact Slava and encourage him to use the other methods that we have in our arsenal, including English Central. I felt that that would not sufficiently cover us and I was very clear that Slava does the working class. It’s the fact that his colleagues speak to him in Dutch at work and speak Dutch around him rather than speak English. That is the main issue.I felt that that would not sufficiently cover us and I was very clear that Slava does the work in class. It’s the fact that his colleagues speak to him in Dutch at work and speak Dutch around him rather than speak English that’s the main issue. I did agree, however, that it would be better if Slava were to do some of the English Central work as that might help him with his pronunciation. I also spoke to Kerry yesterday and told her that it would be more effective if his lessons with me would be more effective at once a week rather than twice, and in person rather than online. But for those of you who have been with me for a while, you know that CYA was the way that VIPKID did things. We were always taking screenshots and covering ourselves so that we wouldn’t get penalized. it gave me PTSD flashbacks.

I’m also dealing with a couple of looming losses this week. Unexpectedly, my Greek student had some money issues that she needed to sort out and so she is away temporarily. At least that’s what she indicated. But I find that that is not usually the case. Especially if it’s a money issue. We came to an agreement wherein I am happy to give her What’spp help when she’s doing some writing and that I will not charge for it. But if she needs greater editing, help with a resume, or something like that, then I will charge her, so we decided to go on a case-by-case basis. And we will reconnect when she is here in the Netherlands in November. But it’s still not very easy because it was a good source of income. But more important than income is access to a client. Because according to the business rules in the Netherlands, I have to have at least three clients at a time. and while I still have that without her, I am also going to lose another client, my beloved Sander. A few months ago when we split for the summer he said that he would probably want to continue but yesterday was our last lesson and he needs to also take a lengthy break. He did say that he would come back though. It might be a while. 

Over in my writing world, it looks like Thursday writing is going to be the norm for the next couple of weeks. At least for me. With my weekend taken up by clients, there won’t be much time for writing. Last post I wrote about one o my writers who wanted to invite people to lunch or dinner at his place in Delft. This past Thursday. he asked if I would choose a few people to invite. I told him that most people would not be able to attend with such short notice, but he was insistent so I had him put it in the group. To my surprise, a few people responded that they would go. Thinking that all was well, I let the issue go. I shouldn’t have. One of the people canceled on Sunday morning and the other was a no-show and then acknowledged his no-show Sunday evening. I felt very bad for the host as he sent a picture of the food that he had cooked. We then decided that it would be better to make a potluck event and I also offered to host, but I think that for me, at least, that will have to be next year. Still, I felt that I had dropped the ball spectacularly.

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

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