Monday, February 22, 2010

Miracle Worker I Am Not

In addition to teaching adult and baby classes at a language school, I also do private, in-house tutoring for individuals. I teach a pair of super-smart brothers, and an Italian woman who’s English is probably better than mine. And then there's Aleix. Sweet, awkward, slow Aleix.

Aleix is 14 years old and has been studying English since he was about six but it seems the language has just never clicked for him. His pronunciation is almost as good as most of my four year olds.

So I was really excited last week when his parents told me that he'd gotten back the first English exam he's taken since I started working with him and his grade was a big improvement over past tests. I was excited until this week, when his mother showed me the exam and I saw that his grade was a 10.5 out of 30. "What-uh, what were your grades before, Aleix?" I asked. "Umm, ford o fibe," he answered.

A big part of the problem is that the tests are all translation, and his spelling is horrible. The teacher gives them a sentence in Catalan and they write it in English- not really the best way to learn. One of the sentences he showed me that he'd translated read as follows (this is not exaggerated):

What hai cat mi her the peoples make funni at mi.

I can't speak or really read Catalan to see what the original phrase was, so it took us about seven minutes to realize that the sentence was:

When I cut my hair people made fun of me.

In another section he had to translate individual words. There was one we had trouble figuring out, he's spelled it:


Major points for anyone who figures it out before I tell you....

...still not sure?...


Clearly my work here is not done.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

40 Days and 40 Nights

So, I realized that today was Fat Tuesday and that if I was going to give something up for Lent, I had better decide pretty quickly what that would be.

For the past five years or so I've consistantly given up chocolate, which is difficult, but I get through. I decided this year that I'm going to give up chocolate and bread. This may prove to be pretty difficult seeing as:
1) Eating is one of my favorite things to do and these are two of my favorite things to eat

2) I live in a place where there is a bakery on every corner selling fresh baked bread and delicious chocolate filled pastries
3) My roommate works in one of said bakeries and has access to a constant (free) supply of said bread and chocolate filled pastries

However, seeing as the most difficult part of my life these days is making sure I wake up early enough to get a walk in before going to work at 4pm, I figured I could use a challenge.

Also I've caught a few glimpses of myself lately that make me wanna vom.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday Night Line Up

Some random interactions with people from yesterday:

I was sitting down on the metro ride home from work. To my right sat a disheveled, sickly looking girl determinedly munching her way through an entire sleeve of Chips Ahoy.

To my left was a couple standing up and leaning against the side of my seat. There were three things that bothered me about them:
- The guy was carrying the girl's purse, not just holding it for her while she did something, he
was straight up carrying it all around
- The girl was wearing a Canadian tuxedo and the jacket had an elastic band around the
- While simultaneously trying to 1) keep his balance 2) hold the purse and 3) make out with
his girlfriend, the guy almost elbowed me in the eye socket about seven times

This experience was later negated when I met some German guys at a bar. One of them continually pointed out that Germans are not always serious and that they "love to have fun and make party all the times." This was emphasized by a little dance move reminiscent of John Candy's "Polka Twist" in Home Alone.

I told him I could not stay out very late because I had to work in the morning. He asked "which o'clock" I had to wake up at. I told him 8 and he said that meant I could make party until 5.

I made party until 3:30 but then I had to pack it in.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Week in Teaching

It was an interesting week teaching English to the people of Spain. This week:

- A four year old slyly looked down my shirt while I was kneeling in front of the group and then turned to one of the other boys and told him loudly that he could see "las tetas"

- I had a spit ball land on my pant leg during my already tense theater class. If those kids didn't know the phrase "Are you kidding me!?" before, they do now

- During a music-based lesson, one student performed all the choreography to "Thriller" which segued into me explaining what the song "Billie Jean" was about through a series of stick figure drawings on the black board

- An adult student asked me what the expression was for when a man was trying to have sex with a woman. I mentally filed through about fifteen different possibilities and how to explain them before I realized the one he was looking for was "to hit on"and breathed a sigh of relief

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bum Bum Bum Ba Da Bum Bum

I have both "Under Pressure" by Queen and "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice in my iTunes. It's always a weird moment when I have iTunes on shuffle and I'm in another part of the apartment so for the first couple notes of the bass riff I can't tell which song it is.

I always stop whatever I'm doing, and swivel my head in the direction of the computer, like a hunting dog picking up a scent, with the urge to run over and assess the situation.

I usually stay still, though and wait it out for the two to three seconds it takes to realize which song is playing. You know, the tell tale "tsch" after the "bum bum bum ba da bum bum" that so sets Ice Ice Baby apart.
If it turns out to be Under Pressure I go about my business, if it is Ice Ice Baby, I'll most likely go change the song. For some reason, though, I don't remove it from my library. I think I like that it keeps me on my toes. Although I'm not entirely sure how it got there in the first place. I can't imagine any time in my life when I'd spend $.99 to purchase it...