Admin Angst, Class Ball Dropped, and Course Contemplation

It has been, dear reader, a difficult week at Inkreadable. It’s not so much that the work was difficult, it’s the same stuff that I’ve been doing for the last six months. But there was a day last week when I just couldn’t get anything right. Over at The English Center, I had to place three students with teachers, and to one of the students I sent three terribly written emails. In addition, it’s become very hard to find teachers who are willing to work. I’m not sure if that’s because the pay is low or because teachers are doing other things, but where we used to have 5 or 6 teachers competing for a job we now only have one person piping up that they can do it. I managed to place all three new students with teachers but I have not heard from one of the students as yet. I sent her an email and then as per the English Center’s instructions sent her a text to her phone number. I know that she saw the text but she hasn’t responded yet. At least she doesn’t have her lesson until the 17th of April. But I am very surprised that she hasn’t followed up already. But what makes me anxious is when I get corrected emails from the English Center. And then I feel like a recalcitrant child.

My own clients proceed well for the English Center and since it’s mostly pronunciation and accent reduction it’s quite easy. I quite enjoy pronunciation lessons even if the package is quite small. They tend to be 12 hours and are rarely ever renewed. I have two such clients currently. There is, of course, Heleen, the client that was gifted Marco’s (her brother-in-law) package and now there is Alessandro who is Italian and so we are working on reducing his accent. What’s interesting about him is that he has barely an accent, to begin with, which is actually more difficult than if he was just starting out and had a very thick accent. At least with thick accents that we try to reduce you can see the progress much more than if it’s a smaller jump. When I was researching how to reduce Alessandro’s accent and the mistakes that an Italian speaker might make in English, I quickly realized that he doesn’t do a lot of these things. One thing that is going to be very hard to reduce is his inability to say the unvoiced TH at the end of words and in the middle. He has the beginning down pat. The voiced TH like that in these, that, and those remain a problem no matter where in the word it appears. I think we’re going to have to keep working on that throughout the course.

In my private client world things proceed quite nicely with my Japanese student who has agreed to go online for the time that I am in Greece. She has no trouble with my lessons and I check in with her frequently to make sure that she is continually satisfied. Shinwei keeps booking my lessons and we are going online with him as well because he is going home to Taiwan for a month and coming back at the end of April. While I love our in-person meetings because they turn into dinner and we are actually friends, it’s also nice to sometimes be online and not have to go anywhere at all and teach one’s pajamas. But my private clinic world was not all that it’s cracked up to be this week. I really dropped the ball with a client. He is another pronunciation client with whom I do a maintenance program. That means that we meet once a month. I forgot that we were supposed to meet during the week of the 14th of March. The thing is we never scheduled the lesson. I spent a few days over last week worried that he wouldn’t get back to me and that I had lost a client. But it all worked out in the end and as a bonus, we also spoke about giving his partner lessons.

They’re thinking to move to New York and my client is currently in negotiation with a company to go work with them for about a year. His girlfriend is going with him and she would like to reduce her accent so that she is more understandable to listeners there. I have not yet met her as we haven’t had an intake yet but she wants more structure than her partner does and so I am currently making a syllabus, especially for her and I’m going to suggest 12 hours. I’m then going to suggest a maintenance program with her as well until they leave. We will see how it works out. The plan is to do exactly the same sort of lessons that I’ve been doing with her partner but to coalesce them into a format that she can follow. The upside of that is that if the whole course is planned out then I just have to schedule the lessons and follow the syllabus. Which means less weekly prep for me. My deadline for that is the seventh of April which is when I have my lesson with her partner.

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

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