Friday, October 22, 2010

Mes Étudiants

For the last couple of times tutoring Leo and Julie, the two kids I tutor, I left there feeling like I didn't really do anything.  English is an incredibly complex languages with few uniform rules (at least few that I can find).  I always kept saying to myself, "okay, next week I am going to bring some grammar exercises and they will work on them."  And every week, I let the stress of school paralyze me from getting that done.

Not this week!  I woke up today around 11:45, showered and sat down at my computer.  I created a Halloween themed lesson.  It was really simple, but basically I had a word bank of Halloween words.  Then below, I had blanks next to definitions.  They had to fill the word in next to the correct definition.  The next part was a story I wrote.  It was another fill in the blank exercise.  They did surprisingly well on it!

I had them, last week, watch an episode my new favorite show, Psych.  It takes place in Santa Barbara so it was pretty fun showing them where I go to school (yeah, I know Psych is filmed in Vancouver, but the arial shots between scenes are actually of SB).  So after they watched the episode, their homework was to write down a summary of what they saw.  They handed them to me today, so I could grade them.

I have a newfound respect for all language teachers.  It is so interesting to me that these kids don't understand English.  I know that is an incredibly selfish statement, but English is just.... well English.  It makes sense to me.  I know who to speak it.  I know how to use it.  And there may be times when I don't know how to spell... like most of the time... but it's just easy.

Tutoring these kids has been the best thing for my world view.  These kids speak perfect french, far better than I ever will, but their english is about as elementary as a five or six year old.  They don't know where to place adjectives, how to spell common words, or even really how to speak in the past tense.  Yet, they are learning.

I've come to this conclusion.  I wish I knew what I know now about people learning english as a second language when I was much younger.  I can appreciate far more now what immigrants to the United States have to go through when they are forced to learn our language.  And they are REALLY forced too.  People here speak a lot more English than Americans do any other language.  I think that all elementary school students should spend a month or two in another country, where they barely speak the language.  That will definitely make Americans a lot more aware of what is going on around them.

Not to completely change the subject, but remeber how I said I couldn't wait until the day that I didn't look forward to checking the X off on my calendar?  We'll I forgot to do it for the last two days.  I'm shocked that changing GSDE (my law class) to Pass/No Pass had SUCH a dramatic impact on my personal well being.

It was definitely the best decision I've made in a long long time.

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