Monday, May 05, 2008

The Best

I really hope some teachers disagree with me, but I think the best thing to teach is ESL.

The kids really, really need to learn what you offer immediately (if not sooner), and in most cases you see very rapid progress. Some of my colleagues hate to teach beginners, but I love it. There's nothing quite like watching kids go from mute to conversational in a matter of months. There's nothing like watching them open up.

I have one girl who's been here a very short time, and who sadly got dumped into my regents prep class. She's very small, and she sits next to a guy who looks like a professional boxer. Oddly, she hits him all the time. I tell her to stop, but she says, "No, in China, hit means love." I don't know about that, but the guy who sits next to her clearly enjoys her attention.

The other day, he didn't show up. I said, "Sandra, did you finally kill Raymond?"

"No," she answered, "Not yet."

It's a little morbid, I guess, but it's a remarkable response from someone so new.

Last week I was out one day. My beginners questioned me closely to find out if I was cutting. They didn't believe me when I told them I saw a doctor. As it happened, I had a medical note, which I pulled out of my pocket and showed them. For a moment there was silence.

Then a girl who rarely speaks raised her hand and asked, "Do you want us to sign it?"

I couldn't stop laughing. It's remarkable to hear wit bordering on sarcasm from a kid who barely spoke a few months ago.

Do you love your subject as much as I love mine? I hope you do.

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