Today marks the midpoint of the contract I have with my level 0 student. In forty five hours he has learned to conjugate BE in the present tense, both affirmative and negative forms plus the interrogative form. It took a good 20 hours for him to catch the hang of I/you/he/she/it/we/they and longer for me/you/him/her/it/us/them but the possessives my/your/his/her/our/thier/its are proving to be quite a challenge. I know how it is to be in your mid thirties and start to learn a new language because I went through it myself. I keep reflecting on those months of agony but I can't help feel that I was a faster learner than he. However, I do recall that after three months, which would have been about 150 hours, I was thinking that it was impossible, that I'd never be able to learn French. Discouraged, I almost aborted the effort. Luckily I didn't quit and was able to push through it. Now the powers that be are trying to extend the contract to give him a better chance of having some basic skills. This is fine by me. I'm actually really into this course and I find myself trying all kinds of different things to get those AHA moments of understanding and clarity from him. I suspect he may score on the low end of verbal skills in his native language which complicates things even further. I mean, if you don't know why you're saying something in your own language, how can you understand why you do it in the target language? When he tries to pronounce English words it's almost as if he has rocks in his mouth. I find myself laughing quite a bit at his mangled pronunciations but it's a loving laugh and he gets that.
Every day, Monday through Friday, I drill him on the conjugation of BE in the present tense, and we do the days of the week (still not under his belt), the months (non plus) and the seasons (still has trouble with spring). We do the numbers from one to one hundred. We do family members. Then we read a rudimentary text and practice grammar exercises. He dutifully writes down new vocabulary (at least a hundred words a day) and promptly forgets the vocabulary. I know how that is too. Whenever I'm with the uncles who know the name of every plant and tree in the wilderness, I'm exposed to the various names of things. It's so cool to be walking along and have uncle Tom say something like, "Hey, wild onions," and then he'll kneel down a pop out some onions from the ground. You and I would have looked and thought it was just one of a bazillion weeds littering the landscape. Anyway, despite the mini lessons in nomenclature and how to identify certain plants and trees (jefferson pine vs ponderosa for example) I forget all the information within minutes, useful though I find it. The best way for me to remember something is to repeat it in my mind a bunch of times. I can usually remember a phone number that way when I'm without a pen. As soon as I get to a pen though and write it down, the phone number will magically vanish from my memory. So any good tricks to help with memorization? I'd be much obliged.