Friday, July 17, 2009

grrrrrr....ammar

I have now been informed that my late afternoon students really like me...BUT...what they really want from their "conversation" class is GRAMMAR. So. I am now being tested on the online course I took this past fall. It's stressful. Grammar is ALWAYS stressful, but, luckily, it's not like reading a different language, reviewing things like the perfective and the progressive forms of verbs. I just have to take my time and make sure I explain everything slowly and clearly. It's really just a matter of building on the simple forms of the verbs. Imagine me stacking those little cardboard bricks from day school on top of each other...except there are words like "simple present of to be" and "+" and "present participle" (which can also be a gerund...please don't ask me that today). This morning at breakfast Charles Hall asked me to tell him what I taught yesterday and we both got confused trying to remember the present perfect vs. simple present. Lots of rules. Never a dull moment.

The coffee in the cafeteria is WEAK. I woke up this morning a.)very hungry and b.) tired. Yesterday, I hadn't really left myself time to eat. I had cereal when I woke up (10:00), and then I didn't eat until 6:30 (because I was cramming in some grammar) when all I had time to grab before the Czech film was a bag of chips and a Kit Kat. When the movie let out, the only thing I could get to eat at a restaurant was...another bag of chips and a beer. Of course, in the Czech Republic, beer is food...and also medicine. I went to bed hungry, annoyed, and not at all medicinally satiated.

It was hot yesterday. It was so hot in the classrooms, my knees were sweating. It's hotter today. However, tomorrow it will be a great deal cooler, and it will be raining. So sayeth the weather man. I will either visit "The Athens of the South" in the Czech Republic on Saturday or "Pilsen's sister city in Germany" on Sunday. Any thoughts? I can't manage to do both and rest up for next week...and wash my underwear.




My walk to school...sometimes I stand and watch the wind blow waves across the grass...or wheat? It's some sort of grain. I'll take a closer picture of what makes up the field, and you can tell me later.







The girl on the bottom is one of my old students from 2007. She is a physics professor at the University. Yep. I will not reveal her name.






A french guy at the party on Wednesday. Again...yep.

8 comments:

Juniperrr said...

The sky is marvelous in that picture. Kinda weird, I didn't picture you walking through a prairie to get to school...

Also I would find it annoying if I were trying to help improve conversation, and my students were hung up on memorizing the rules of present perfect tense and shit.

I get that the more advanced they become, there may be a need to explain.. say, in ADVANCED GRAMMAR CLASS... but conversation is more about improving your ability to verbally communicate your point, on your feet, in daily life. In my viewwwww :)

Apryl said...

From a different perspective, people are often judged as less intelligent in conversation when they don't follow grammar rules. While I don't think grammar should be the exclusive focus of a conversation class, I think a small dose of it in every session would be quite useful. Of course, I don't usually find grammar to be stressful. For some easily digestible chunks of grammar, check out Grammar Girl.

Regardless of the grammar issue, I think that your dedication to teaching what your students say they want to know is pretty neat-o, Caroline!

I vote for the "Athens of the South" because the city is actually farther north than Athens, Greece.

Juniperrr said...

I am sure that Caroline is teaching them to speak in a grammatically correct way, as it is. If it were me, I would not understand why I should delve deep into grammar to the point of defeating the purpose of the class.

If most native English-speakers can manage CONVERSATION without knowing the ins and outs of past perfect progressive, then ELLs can swing it, too.

Learning to take communicative risks in conversation, while uninhibited by grammatical detail, has been found to be a healthy part of language development.

The students should help decide the direction of the class TO A DEGREE... but there is also a reason why language professionals design curricula and students do not. Grammar and Conversation are separate classes for a purpose.

Nancy Caroline said...

I am currently teaching them mostly grammar, and sneaking conversation into the mix. Like yesterday I taught them present progressive to express future plans (On Saturday I am cleaning my house) as well as "time prepositions": at, on, in. Then we "mingled" and talked about our plans for the weekend.

Merriam said...

Hi, Caroline! I forgot about your teaching abroad again. The students I've been teaching have the same hangup...Juniperrr has something - is there a way to teach students to get used to taking risks? It seems like that could be the greatest objective of a conversation class. Maybe if the students are having so much fun, as is probably already the case in your class, they will forget their inhibitions. Unfortunately, grammar is seldom fun for most people. I think about the way a child learns a language and would like to better understand how we can learn from it. Of course, children take risks without even thinking about it.

Nancy Caroline said...

Merriam! We start to lose the ability to learn language easily by the age of ten. I don't know if it has anything to do with our ability to take risks or not, but it may. One of the best way to get adults to take risks is to get them to play games. It's the premise of improv theatre. It's based on games because it is only in games that we feel truly free to take risks...at play we do not live in the adult world of judgement, but, instead, we revisit the world of childhood and imagination. That's why there are so many ESL games online. ;) Maybe...

diana said...

so you're like, in the czech republic right now. jennifer had to tell me; I didn't know. how embarrassing.

Vanessa said...

I think that is how the French dress daily. Don't judge, we just don't understand their advanced ways.