Lesson Four – for crying, and laughing, out loud

 Note: This series relates to my literacy volunteer work (ESOL)…in lesson 3 we’d said our good byes for three weeks so Cristina could go home to Spain for the holidays.

We put our bags down and gave each other a huge hug. I was excited about her return, the new year and a fresh start.  To me, it was also a new semester. I was ready to be a tutor and create a more formal approach.

I told Cristina I thought it would be helpful for both of us if we added a structure to our meetings. I suggested they include: talking about each other’s week, Cristina reading , a grammar exercise, a role play, me reading and then planning the next week.

We understood each other.

Then I too quickly went to American slang and said, “Okay, let’s chit-chat.”

“Shit Shat?”

<Damn straight……..I thought Shit!!!!! to myself.>

Not only had I chosen a difficult phrase to translate, I’d complicated it with a very key pronunciation challenge.

I had to fix this before it got dangerous. That word was not going to be something I taught her.

I quickly wrote down some words on our paper:







She was full of good cheer as she watched me write like lightning with a thunderous smile on her face. She repeated them all with a well-formed “CH” sound.

“Yes. Good. Chit-chat. It just means ‘talk’. ”

“Oh, Okay…and don’t worry, I already know “SHHHiiiiitt”.

I laughed at her confession and she laughed at my expression!

I’d missed her.

She told me about her holiday back home. It was like my own girls talking. It sounded like she’d missed home and had looked forward to Christmas with family.  She said it was hard to leave again and had boarded her plane with a heavy heart. Her heart then sank when her layover landed.

They had touched down only moments after the terrorist attack in Paris. I don’t think she could have explained her experience in Spanish, never mind English.

Our training had just greeted history.

Her experience would prove timeless and we had less time left than I thought.

In the library, we role-played at a restaurant. She responded to  the waitress, ordered our food and while waiting for our meal told me she’d read some of my blog over break. Her company during dinner was worth a thousand words. The fact that she took time to view this amateur blog was priceless.

I explained that I wanted the stories to be happy and sad.  It seemed appropriate knowing our hour would be a future entry.

I’d decided during our meal that next week we’d focus on forming questions and prepositions.  That strategy was affirmed when I asked, “Would you like to put your coat on? ”

Say again. Is it ‘on’ or ‘in’?

“You put your arms IN but your coat ON…… ‘ON’ top of your body.”

Ahh. Okay…….. In……On.

We paid our tab, gathered our carry-outs and made a reservation for the next week.

We went OUT of the librateraunt and I was OVER the moon. I was happy with all the formalities.