Thursday, January 22, 2009

School on the Run


Seemed like a simple plan when I made it. Clear the morning calendar. Make a nice space in the dining room for ESL (English as a Second Language) lessons. Every morning, get the other kids on the bus, then sit down with James and Julie and proceed to teach them English. Follow each well-taught lesson with a trip to the barn together for chores, and then a stroll down our country lane, pointing out the English words for familiar items such as fence, tree, goose. Throw a few bluebirds twittering around our heads and you get the picture.
Yeah. Well. That's happened all of like, twice. More commonly, we're picking one of the kids up from school to run them to the doctor or orthodontist, going to the grocery store for the third time in a week, schlepping out to the social security office for more paperwork, or any one of the myriad of things that keep popping up to fill these new gaps in my calendar.
So usually we have school on the run, as we listen to ESL CDs in the car or I point out things while we're driving around, like truck, bus, train, etc. Skojit "hobo". One drawback to this method is that I'm about to lose my friggin' mind. If I have to listen to this Bryan Adams wannabe and his cheesy accompanying musicians sing "What's Your Name" or "Supermarket Sally" one more time I am going to leap out the window and start playing in traffic. But the kids love it. "Mom, Mom, What's Your Name. Please? What's Your Name." OK. One more time ....
Another occupational hazard to being in the position of ESL teacher is that I've come to resemble a silent movie actor in my manner of speech. As I point out a new word to them, I am striving with every nuance of my facial expressions and body language to convey its meaning. Imagine, if you will, my melodrama as I teach by charade the words happy, or angry. While it seems helpful during the lessons, it's gotten to be a hard thing to switch on and off. I might say to someone, "I like your shirt (sweeping my arm up and down across my torso to indicate shirt). It's pretty (with a stupid happy face on). It's red (might gesture to several red things at this point)". They just look at me and I know what they're wondering. Where's her 'special helmet'?

14 comments:

  1. BAHAHAHA. I am visiting from TALU: Hilarious. I also teach english to spanish speaking children and I can totally relate. Another crazy thing I find myself doing is putting WAY WAY WAY too much intonation on questions.. "Do you LIKE IIITTTTT??!!???!!!??????"

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  2. Hahaha! I am just cracking up about the description of your facial expressions while teaching!! :-))) (TALU)

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  3. LOL!!! I started reading the first paragraph thinking, wow she is SO organized and then bust out laughing with TWICE. I imagine its hard to turn off your teaching methods huh? TALU

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  4. lol- English has to be the hardest language to teach someone who doesn't speak it. My daughter's husband is from Spain. And although he knows enough to carry on a simple conversation, the slang we use on a daily basis leaves him clueless. Things like "Dig in!" when we are ready to eat dinner, is just one example.

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  5. Love reading your post and starting out my day with a smile! Sounds like you are ding a great job! TALU!

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  6. Thanks, guys, love having you laugh at my ineptitude! Sadly, though James and Julie have been home for four years now, my Mom still does this with them. They'll probably be American citizens for 20 years and my Mom will still be playing charades with them when she talks to them.

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  7. You just gave me a terrible flashback to my school days. I used to do a lot of plays, so that would translate to English class. On those occasions when selected to read a part from a novel we were studying, I would automatically "do the voice" and add the required inflection, sending my classmates into fits of laughter. I couldn't help it, it was automatic. To this day, I have to explain myself while watching movies with someone - I'll be weeping or laughing or something that will catch whoever I'm with by surprise because the particular response to the scene doesn't necessarily match my personality - it's not ME, it's that I'm automatically acting the scene in my head. HELP MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

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  8. That's kind of how I envisioned things when I brought my daughter home last year. We'd sit peacefully and learn English while her older brothers focused quietly on their school work. Yes, funny. We ended up completely revamping our curriculum to accommodate my daughter's interruptions and my sons' incessant fighting. Still no peace except during nap time.

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  9. Life is so much better than we can plan...but I still try to plan. So glad you know how to enjoy what comes your way, Anne. Your humor is truly inspirational. Talu-ho!

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  10. I had to teach my son English but he was still young - 3 1/2. So it went pretty smoothly. But they learn pretty quickly don't they? I guess when you have no choice, that'll happen. TALU

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  11. Upon reading your post, I am reminded of his hilarious recurring character on Just Shoot Me. Ever seen it? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMfbDPL1ths

    Funny stuff, Anne. :)

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  12. I was SO JEALOUS reading your first paragraph, thinking "wow, I'm a terrible mother" and then, thank you, felt so much better reading that it's only happened twice. I laughed out loud (for real, we're not just talking about some lame LOL stuff - we're talking snotted on the keyboard laughing) at the "I like your shirt" while sweeping your arm up and down their shirt. Awesome stuff. Still chuckling.
    TALU

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  13. So funny. I cannot imagine teaching someone English as a second language...our language is crazy. There is an exception to every rule and 6 different words for the same thing! LOL. Kudos to you for going the extra mile and throwing your whole body into it! I imagine they've come a long way since you wrote this! (TALU)

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  14. Thanks guys. You're all right on so many points: English is impossible to teach. They wouldn't have learned if it wasn't for immersion. A good teacher I am not. ODNT, I'll have to check out that link.

    Thanks everyone!

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