Wednesday, October 1, 2008

From Fajitas to Titanic

Seeing as how we’ve been here for two months now, I think that it is about time for us to tell you what we are actually doing here. I am going to describe my day in this blog and Chris will describe his later.
I knew that I would be teaching English but as an unexpected surprise, I am also teaching one section each of French and Spanish. Who knew that I would actually be able use romance languages in the Orient? Teaching Spanish pronunciation during the first week of classes brought some unexpected challenges.
“Remember, the ‘j’ in Spanish is pronounced like an ‘h’, just like in the word… (to self: wait a minute, they have probably never heard the word ‘fajita’ before in their lives, I’ll give it a shot anyway) fajita.” After silencing the rising hum of “huh?” and “what?” that overtook the classroom, I attempted to depict this Mexican cookery. Imagine trying to explain a fajita when your audience doesn’t know what a tortilla is either. The quote of the week came from a student offering his input about the foreign delicacy, “Oh yeah, I think they have those at TGI Fridays.” Ah yes, the great Mexican tradition of TGI Fridays.
The English classes that I teach have been a stretch since I have never taught English before, but they have also been a blast. Both classes are specifically English writing classes. The first writing class is what we have deemed the “IEP” section. This stands for “Intensive English Program” and is designed for students with extremely limited English or learning disabilities. I wasn’t sure exactly how limited their English was going to be before classes started. After all, they were admitted to an all-English school, right? They must be at least mildly proficient. Wrong. It was from this class that I had the famed tear-shedding incident. After the first day of school, apparently two of my six students from this class went home and cried to their English tutor who promptly called the school to see what monster would do this to his precious students. Oops. Apparently, they got over it, because they came back and very rarely give me dirty looks.
Now, I know that this is against the rules, but I have to admit that this class might be my favorite. Their English ability is so low that it is like teaching kindergartners who don’t pick their noses or pee in their pants. They get so excited when they actually understand when someone is trying to be funny, they crack up at the simplest things. When we talked about asking questions, I asked them, “Do you sing in Bible class?” and they said they did. Then, I asked them, “Do you sing in science class?” And the class erupted in laughter. Now, if you know me, you know that I love for people to think that I am funny and this class makes it really easy. Maybe that is why I like them so much. In this class, there is a sweet girl named Cindy who thinks that it is a travesty that Chris and I don’t have any kids yet. “Why no baby?” she asked me one day. “Baby so cute!” I wanted to pinch her cheek and say, “No, you so cute!” But, I refrained.
My other writing class is also full of characters. Their level is much higher than my IEP’s but they still need help to get them to a high school level. In this class is a friendly young gentleman named Leo. Leo is a portly freshman who likes to randomly burst into song. I’m not talking about songs you would normally expect from a high school boy. I’m talking about “My Heart Will Go On”, “Shepherd of my Soul” and other songs of that nature. He often compares himself to a panda in his writing which is a relatively accurate description: big, clumsy, but also sweet and charming. He is so eager and full of energy, you want to laugh at him and yell at him at the same time.
There are many more but as this is getting long and I have lesson plans to write, I will leave you. Sing a bar of “My Heart Will Go On” for old time’s sake, you know you want to.


Abbey said...

Ha! I love the Panda guy! That makes me laugh. Sounds liek you stay fairly entertained! :)
Is that Cindy the same as the boys' penpal?

Chris and Ashley said...

Yes, Cindy is their penpal and Sunny is in the same class! They are a lot of fun. I think that I am going to have them write again next week sometime.