Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Job

Ok, I know I should probably say something about the elections right? I did get up at 3:30am to watch CNN and see how things turned out. Not so much because I am so political as that I was coughing and felt bad about waking Cyr up. I actually love election coverage the day of. Watching the states come in, seeing the excitement from both parties.

Is it strange that all of a sudden I feel like I can be "proud" to be an American again? I am so tired of feeling like I have to apologize for Bush every time someone finds out I am from Texas. This is not a political blog and I do not want it to be, but the people have chosen and it's time to once again be proud of our country and our leader. Unfortunately I went last night with a group of people (me being the only American) to see the Oliver Stone film "W". How I wish I could get those two hours of my life back. From now on every time I hear "The Yellow Rose of Texas" I am going to think of W. trying to bong Jack Daniels or stuff a burger in his face. I am not making a statement other than to say; "Not all Texans are like W. He isn't even FROM Texas and he didn't go to Texas colleges."

Well that was longer than anticipated....

So my first day at work...was completely not what I expected. I was told that they all had a firm grasp on English and that I was to teach high level Business English to them. The first two students walk in, I say "Hello, welcome! I know we are part way through the semester, is this your first English class of the year?"

Response: ::Eyes dart from side to side. A slight smile and cock of the head reminds me of when I used to make funny noises to my dog to see him looked confused. It's the same look. It's because they don't understand a friggin word I have said. Ahh...nothing like exaggeration while selling a job eh?

So as my 35 young 18 year old students file in for my 2.5 hour class I begin to see that most are not very good with English. About 5 of them can hold a conversation. I try to start off by telling about myself and the course objective. I move on to a simple lesson and ask why there is so much talking.

Response: ::"I have to translate for my friend" respond a few people.

Ahh...I see.

So needless to say it was a fairly long class. At one point I asked the kids to use paper to put their names on so I could see who they were. One kid told me "That is a waste of paper." I told him he should go hang out in the office and see how much paper this school wastes making copies if this bothered him. Maybe next week I will suggest he start a coalition to use less paper.

Funny thing is that it really wasn't that bad. We had some good conversations, I got a few groups to get up and argue (or try) points of business and one person even told me he learned a few new words. 10 years ago I would have been upset because my plan crashed, but I recovered. It was like a sales meeting where you find out the person you are selling to doesn't need the product you thought they did but instead needs something about 90 degrees different. I can identify with and see how frustrated they are and am planning to break them up into groups next week. 35 kids is a big crew to teach English to, especially with such a broad array of levels in the room. Should be a nice challenge I guess.

Today I am picking up a class from the Canadian teacher who has a conflict with the class time. I teach the same material but only for 2 hours so it should be better than yesterday. At least I know what to expect today! I have asked to sit in on a colleague's class, but I doubt he will let me. This would be someone who was not willing to share lesson plans after all...


Isabelle said...

What are you supposed to teach exactly? Because a class of 35 students is awfully big for a language class! Plus these 18 years old don't seem very motivated, so why are they following this class?

Leesa said...

Hey there Susan!!!! A big YAY for feeling "PROUD" to be an American once again! I have to second thqt feeling, 'cuz it's exactly how I felt when I learned that Obama won!!!!

I am glad to hear about your first day of class; I know that it will keep getting better and better each class! Can't wait to hear more. Hugs, Leese

Marie said...

I totally understand your frustration Susan. I do hope today's class will be a little bit better. Don't hesitate to debrief it quiclky with your supervisor, it might help.
Talk to you soon
PS You should create some humidity in your bedroom at night. Especially if you have "moquette" (jeez, I forget English words so fast !)

Justin said...

Wow Susan! Congrats on the job and good luck with all of them... you must have the patience of a saint!

Andromeda said...

Woah, 35 is so many! My biggest class is 25 and I feel like I'm drowning. Getting everyone to talk is a challenge, so I have lots of articles to read out loud, or when we have grammar exercises, everyone has their turn answering one. Not ideal, but better than nothing! Good luck!!

Hurray for being a proud American again!

Susan in Lille said...

Isabelle - I thought it was huge too! It's 1st year college level Business English. I think splitting them up in small groups is going to work best. I think it's a mandatory class, so they have to be there. And they take attendance!? It's college for goodness sake...if you don't pass you don't pass. Who cares if you come to class!?

Leesa - You are so right (about both things)! I had a second class last night and it went MUCH better (different group though).

Marie - yes, much better the next day! I also asked if I could sit in another class to observe.

Justin - Thanks for the congrats! Saint? Naw...I just know that as soon as I let them out I can go have a fantastic Belgian beer. ;-)

Andromeda - Great ideas all of them! I am really searching for ways to make it interactive and split the groups up. Also like the answering one at a time thing...

Thanks for all of your posts!!

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