Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rambling again

Wow, it's been a long time since I had such a beginner. I started an intensive with a, I want to say kid but he's 22, student from out in the country who is taking a marketing program that includes language study. I asked if there had been any previous English in school and the response was (in French) "I cheated and the teacher was bad." I think that out in rural areas, English isn't seen as a necessity and so isn't given the same weight in many cases. But the last time I had someone this low, it was a kid from Saudi Arabia who knew only no, yes and thank you when I got him. His father brokered those lessons with me on the phone from the home country. What was his name, oh yes Mutlag, the "g" pronounced like when saying the "ch" in yech. I remember going to his apartment, sometimes accidentally arriving at prayer time, in which case I would wait at the little dining table. The oddest thing about him was that there was always water all over the bathroom. It was like he took a bath and splashed it out all over the floor and walls. I asked his roommate, another kid and student of mine from Saudi Arabia, why the bathroom was like that and he just shrugged. Once he took a one hour shower while I gave a lesson to his roommate, Abadi, and though I didn't say anything, I had a feeling I knew what was going on. Once when the word "Hitler" came up, they didn't understand and I did the Heil Hitler thing with the little mustache and the light bulb when off next to their heads, "Ohhhhhh Hitler, he hero, he hero!" Of course I went right onto something else, they couldn't understand anything I said anyway, and I wasn't going to change 20 years of brainwashing. I was glad when I finished with them. So this new student is a challenge for me. I hope we have enough time together for me to see a flowering of his ability. I'm much more likely to get that from the super-beginners, though Mutlag and Abadi never did. He did make a whole present tense sentence with the verb "be" on his own today. That is progress. My work is to be patient and repetetive, repetetive and patient. It's tempting for both of us to jump into French to explain or ask questions, but the best for both of us is to refrain from that. We both failed at it a few times, but today I'm going Nazi on him.

21 comments:

Nico said...

I need the bathroom mystery solved.

Petie said...

I don't get what was happening in the bathroom?

David said...

Ah, Saudi Arabia, our wonderful ally in the war on terror.

I'm guessing "masturbation."

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the Arab world has such hatred of the Jewish people. To base their whole religion on such hatred is a crime to humanity.
I hope things go better with this new guy. For a basic lesson I think flash cards with simple words in French on one side and English on the other would be a great help. ed

latt├ęgirl said...

An hour is a long time to, uh... shower.

Polt said...

My GOD but you have an interesting career, the people you deal with and all.

HUGS...

Birdie said...

I want a water heater that heats an hour's worth of water for whatever reason.

Lemuel said...

Perhaps this time around the country guy will be more motivated since it may be more apparent to him that this affects his life and career.

As a teach, one of my greatest thrills was seeing someone "get" it. When that light bulb goes on, it is worth every effort.

Greg said...

So, is the Third Reich ALWAYS part of your lessons, then?

Snooze said...

Those past students sound completely bizarre [or spoiled]. Good luck with this new student!

Patricia said...

I would so not have the patience for this and I applaud the fact that you do. And yes, things like including the word "so" and beginning sentences with "and" will pretty much (there's another) end my teaching career before it begins.

Roxrocks said...

So are you telling us, in your roundabout way, that you have gas today?

:)

Java said...

This guy seems like an interesting challenge. Hopefully in a better way than the Saudi students.

Patrick said...

Wow. I've had some jaw-dropping statements thrown my way, but 'he hero' tops all of them. Yeah, I wouldn't have tried to tackle it either, especially if the language barrier was still severe, but, again, WOW. You do have an interesting job.

word verification: amess.

CoffeeDog said...

My step mother is a "bathroom" person. She spends HOURS in there, doing who knows what. Mrs Coffeedog had a friend who was also a "bathroom" person too. Who knows what folks do in there...me, I poo and get out. Sometimes I'll read but I don't splash water around.

Laverne said...

What was the pretty good idea about what was going on? And why would it involve splashing all kinds of water around.

I couldn't teach folks who thought Hitler was a hero. Of course, as a woman with my face showing, I probably wouldn't be teaching anyone like those guys anyway.

How can killing millions ever be considered heroic? I can't see it.

Robyn said...

I remember when I first travelled to France, my hotel in Paris had a shower, but no shower curtain. I couldn't quite figure that one out, and there was no way to take a shower without making a mess of the bathroom.

BTW - your blog is possibly one of the most entertaining ones around. I used to work as a tour coordinator for a travel company that only dealt with ESL students. I can totally visualize some of those scenarios.

Mark in DE said...

Wow, you get them from all backgrounds, don't you? I believe I would get frustrated with a job like yours.

A Lewis said...

I'm sorry, did you say that you had a 22 year old? Lucky you. And jealous me.

conortje said...

I had a student once from Italy - middle-aged man who didn't even know the word 'the'. I had to give him an intensive course which included being with him for lunch and dinner too. That was one very long week :-)

afod said...

Despite what you are challenged with, I am more impressed with your drive.