Loaded Lessons and Parthenon Paralysis

It was quite a busy week here at Inkreadable, dear reader. Following up on my cold of the previous week where I only did as much work as was emergent, I really had to buckle down and get back into the swing of things. That meant that I had to do 13 and a half hours of administrative work for The English Center. I also had to give lessons to three of my clients for The English Center as well as my kids from China and the new client from Japan for my private lessons. In terms of The English Center, I reconnected with Slava with whom I now have four more hours left in his package. I am not sure whether he will continue as his boss actually has to approve the continuation because they pay for it. On the one hand, it might be nice to have my Monday evenings back, but it’s always a toss-up between working and free time. It’s the nature of being self-employed. If I’m honest, I would prefer to have online clients in the evening and in-person clients during the day. Slava is improving but it’s slow going because he has a hard time practicing English. He finds that when he’s speaking to his work colleagues the language is specific and used repeatedly. So he’s able to understand it. Where he struggles is if people go off script. I did try to tell him that that is an issue with everyone trying to learn a language. I certainly had it with my students during VIPKid. I had my last lesson with Roy for his 12-hour pronunciation package, but I think I may see him again. He might want to do a maintenance program but he said he would contact me with some dates. In his final lesson, we went over the different pronunciation and general English mistakes that Dutch speakers make. Including confusing the present progressive and simple present. Those two tenses are not differentiated in Dutch so “I eat an apple” and “I am eating an apple” are the same for Dutch speakers. So they tend to use present simple when they mean present progressive. I had a lesson planned for Isabelle this week but she changed it up on me at the last minute. She was giving a presentation in Dutch but the slides had to be in English because they are being distributed company-wide, and English is one of two official company languages. We spent about 45 minutes of the lesson talking about her slides, which left about 15 minutes to go over the plan for the following week. We are doing a lesson on the evolution of the hoodie. One of Isabel’s loves is fashion so I try to incorporate both fashion and HR into her lessons to keep them interesting.

Getting back into the swing of things with the kids in China was easy as we have started a new book and their conversations pretty well flow. At least Jerry’s conversation does. George’s speech impediment makes it a little bit difficult to understand him, but it’s gotten to the point where I’m able to understand about 75% of what he says. The other 25% I kind of fake it till I make it. But it’s interesting because they have very different perspectives on learning. Jerry is much more engaged and is able to answer my questions. George tends to fall back on the good old “I don’t know” when he doesn’t feel like participating or doing anything. As he gets older, I find that that becomes more and more prevalent. It may be that we have reached the end of the usefulness with George and that I will lose him as a client. Of course, it may be that I will lose both him and Jerry as clients because they are shortly to start high school and probably won’t have time for extra classes. China’s children tend to take many extra classes outside of their school that have an affiliation with what they’re currently learning and so English tends to take a back seat. We will have to see what happens but maybe they will just take a break and then come back once they hit university. My new Japanese student and I had our first two lessons together this week and they went quite well. We did cooking-based lessons and learned about some of the language involved with restaurants and food preparation. Our next lessons are tomorrow and Friday. We did a bit of an intake and while I did not do verbs like I normally do, I am going to try and shore up her use of the perfect tenses as they tend to be difficult.

You may have noticed, dear reader that I have not mentioned Odhran and our Greek classes in some time. That is because we went on hiatus during the winter holidays. But this past weekend starting from Friday at 9:00 Greek time until yesterday at midnight I was in Greece with him. On Saturday, we did a cat tour of Athens where we got to see several cat colonies and learn about the efforts to rescue and stop the problem of stray cats in Athens through catch-and-release programs. It was quite an interesting tour and I was very pleased with Odhran’s use of Greek even if it was just conversational. I had him order for us the whole weekend and I heard from his mom that even when I was not with them, (for example the time they went for ice cream and I opted to stay home), he used Greek to order. After the cat tour, we went to the Acropolis and I managed to walk most of the way up but I did not feel like climbing the stairs up to the Acropolis as they were very slippery and my ears are still blocked from my cold 2 weeks ago. As a result, my balance is affected and in fact, I wasn’t watching where I was going and I managed to fall once. I’m not sure why as I have gotten older I am less able to tell the depth of stairs and walking downstairs is much more difficult than walking up. I don’t mean stairs like in an apartment building. Those are fine. I am talking about finally hewn marble steps that have been polished and are so slippery with thousands of feet that traipse across them every year that is physically impossible to actually step on them. I do have a couple of nice pictures of views from the Acropolis but the nicest one appears below:

I was watching several groups of children bounding from stone to stone at the Acropolis and don’t ever remember feeling that confident or self-assured. Maybe it’s as we get older we learn to fear. But I was quite content to just sit at the bottom and wait for Odhran and his mom to come back from the top of the Acropolis and report what they had seen. Having accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, we spent Sunday morning on Syntagma Square watching the changing o the guard then went to Aegina. Here are some pictures from the ferry and on the island:

On Monday we went to the headquarters of his other Greek school and I got to meet the head of the school. We split up after that as they went to the airport but I was not flying until the evening and so I hooked up with a friend of my mom’s and spent the day with them. The flight home was uneventful thankfully. My key takeaways from this trip: Odhran is making progress and his mom is happy with me and the greek school. I also like destination teaching and hope to do more of it.

That’s All She Wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But, stay tuned. As always, there’s more to come.

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