An entry about tutoring English for speakers of other languages.
Cristina and I have known each other for several months now. So our session started like it always does…with a hug. We both got settled and told each other about our week. There wasn’t a lot to tell. We’d both been New England snowbound and agreed we were both a little stir crazy.
Cristina added the positive spin like she always does. She used great phrasing too, “On the other hand, it’s nice to finally go outside and take a deep breath.”
Yes it is…and she is literally a breath of fresh air herself.
I had her take another deep breath to pronounce the words I’d written in my work notebook. They were words with long “i” vowel sounds. She read about live bees that dive down from their hives. I felt alive as she went on about chives. Five more minutes and we would have been doing the jive.
I don’t dance so we pronounced other verbs. In the past tense. If she’d physically done them all, she would’ve been exhausted. Jumped. Hopped. Shopped. To force away her tendency to add a syllable (jump-Ed, hop-Ed, shop-Ed) I wrote how the words sounded as well: jumpt, hopt, shopt.
She had it but she also said she had to go to the bathroom. She’d never needed a break from me before so I got a little paranoid. I wondered if my lesson had been too basic? Had I gone too fast? I do enjoy getting to know her and she learns so quickly, I’m certain my lessons are sometimes on overdrive.
When she came back, we talked about it. She confirmed my biggest fear and created my proudest moment:
“You are. You are crazy!” She laughed.
I didn’t know what to say. I had no English for her.
“That’s what I love about you! I learn so much.”
Wow. I’d translated.
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I asked where else she was planning to use her English?
Evidently, she’s already looked into volunteering at the local hospital. I asked why and what she planned to do? She reminded me of her Psychology degree. She wants to work in a healthcare setting while she is here too.
She asked if I knew what Reiki was?
“I’m familiar with the concept but I’ve never experienced it.”
…..I’m thinking how fabulously we’ve bridged the language barrier talking about hospitals, psychology and Reiki…..
Then Cristina starts talking about her T-shirt? I didn’t know what that had to do with anything. I asked her to repeat. I didn’t get it. Her T-shirt didn’t translate and I didn’t think it was a requirement for Reiki.
Lightning bolt! I suddenly remembered our ‘CH’ versus ‘SH’ lesson.
“Oh! You’re a teacher?”
Yes. Cristina has one of three certifications to be a Reiki instructor.
What else does this girl do?
I remem-bird (another pronunciation tactic) a follow-up question I had….
<Note: Remem-bird was somehow explained via an owl, that doesn’t say woof-woof but whooo-hoo, and somehow a wolf got involved but then she said it like ‘wolves’ so that was a different plural to discuss, etc. You get the picture. There is a lot involved each session. Sometimes I miss highlights of earlier lessons – I’ve never written about covering 9-1-1 either .>
…..”Are you still talking to your recent male friend in Spain? ” Cristina had told me they’d met through mutual friends before she left for the States.
“Yes.” Her eyebrows smiled with her mouth. “I think I am falling in love.” It was my favorite translation. She was crazy for him!
She asked if I’d listened to the Eels song yet? I did like where this was going but I literally had to leave. I wasn’t yet familiar with “their song” so I had my homework.
I also had a date with my niece. We were getting Chinese. Yes, she was nice. I spelled out nice niece. So much to learn, so little time!
We hugged, hoped we didn’t get as much snow and wondered if my fortune cookie would confirm I was crazy?
Copyright Donna Ll. Crowe, 2015