I had literacy training for ESOL, English for Speakers of Other Languages, in the fall last year. By Thanksgiving, I was anxiously awaiting my first assignment. I didn’t know if it would be a teenager at Walmart, a Buddhist nun from Vietnam or Snoop Dogg.
As a Mom of two college-age girls, I was excited to finally learn my first student would be a 26-year-old college graduate from Spain. So thrilled that I forgot all my training as soon as she walked in the door. I spoke so quickly my husband wouldn’t have understood, “Ohmygosh!Hi!Howareyou.Imsogladwefinallygettomeet.igotyouremail.howaboutifwetalkaboutthatfirstandthenjustgettoknoweachother?!”
Response, “Hello.” (you crazy American. Is this what it’s going to be like?)
Not so quickly realizing the fault in my ways I step back, moving very slowly and let her read my lips.
Now Christina is probably wondering if I’m teaching English or mime.
So, I finally say, “Let’s sit down.” As I point to the chairs.
We begin to converse and cover the basics:
– where we live
– the members of our families
– if we have pets
– what Christina’s learning goals are
I made it back.
I proudly start to conclude the hour and tell her, “We’re going to get along famously and we will learn a lot from each other.”
She responds with her hour-long smile, “What made you famous?” And “So sorry, I have no lesson for you. What you need me to teach?.”
Needless to say, it took me a little longer to wrap up than I expected.
We did agree to email during the week and meet at the library again the following Thursday.
Christina was SO grateful.
I was grateful I’d come to my senses twice in the evening and had hours of relevant training to understand what I was doing right and wrong. I promised myself to contain my enthusiasm, talk a little slower than Flash Gordon and not let her wonder if I was a famous white rapper.