Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Stories

I still don't have access to Blogspot in my room, so I'm having to do only text updates infrequently until they get that worked out. Hopefully that will be next week. Realistically, it might happen before January. That is, unless I invite the network administrator out for a drink before asking him. Or discover that we're related somehow. Or I marry his daughter. Or my supervisor happens to be his sister. Or he knows and likes another American. Or... well, you get the idea.

One day I'm hoping to upload pictures of the campus. Not sure how I'm going to do this since flashdrives are interdits (forbidden) on the school's computers. We'll see what I can figure out.

Classes have now been going for two weeks. My students range from being being stupid in any language to being straight up anglophones (native English speakers). Seriously. Here are two of my fun stories from the last two weeks:
  • Making my first student cry. Okay, it wasn't really fun, but it was interesting. She wouldn't say anything to me. I asked her some simple question (I think it was, "what are you studying", but I can't remember for sure), and she just gapped at me. I said, "try". She stared at me. I said, "it's okay if it isn't right, just try". She stared at me. I said, "essayes" (try). She stared at me. I said, "parles quelque chose" (say something). She stared at me. I pulled up a chair and sat down in front of her, determined to get something out of her. I did. She covered her face and sobbed. I moved on to the next student. I won't be having her in class again. That's good for both of us.
  • Being taught English by one of my students. I was supposed to oversee a sort of special study hall for three students from different classes. I had done this earlier and found that I like the arrangement since the students don't typically know each other. My first student enters and says (in perfect British-English), "Where are you from?". "The United States" I say. "Ah! I'm so glad to have an English speaker! The teachers here... well they all speak with a bad accent..." I'm dumbfounded. This is more English than I have ever heard from a student. "Where are you from?" I ask. "Nigeria" he says. "Great", I think, "why did they send me an anglophone?" Then my next two students come in. Both girls were native French-speakers and fairly weak in English. So I had to try to teach an English class and be interesting for two people who hardly speak English and one who speaks it as his mother tongue. He was excited to speak English with someone who actually spoke English. He wouldn't slow down for the others, and he just looked at me strangely when I spoke slowly and put breaks between my words. I'm sure he thought I was a bit retarded. I ended up making the class about differences between British-English and American-English. I learned a lot. The girls, I'm afraid, didn't. They mostly just stared off into space while he asked me questions about gangs, hamburgers, and life in America.
I have more, and they'll be coming soon (I hope). Until then, Bon Courage!