Monday, June 22, 2009
I'm inspired by Trash Man's cryptic comment last week to elaborate. The first part of the NYS English Regents exam entailed a lecture about "therapy dogs," something I'd never heard of before. Nonetheless, I had to read the lecture three times to my young newcomers, so I'd say I now know more than most English teachers, who only had to read it twice.
Apparently the elderly, particularly those in long-term care, suffer terribly from loneliness. The lecture contended that specially trained dogs could provide great comfort to such people. Aside from the small errors I referenced yesterday, I got to read some very interesting interpretations from kids who'd been speaking English a very short time.
The most interesting interpretation was this--old dogs get very lonely and are in dire need of therapy. They rarely get visitors, so they need a lot of help. They love it when their therapists give them the attention they don't get on a regular basis. They're particularly grateful when their therapists literally lick away their tears.
Tbere were other interpretations, of course, but I'm generally overwhelmed by the blatant idiocy of requiring kids who've been here less than a year to take this test. I'll help them the best I can as long as this rule is in place, because someone has to, but I'll be damned if I could go to China for six months and pass such a test in Chinese, and anyone who thinks these kids ought to do it should be damned as well. Language acquistion takes time, varies by individual, and to really acquire a language a reasonable benchmark is at very least a couple of years.
Well, I gotta run, because for English and ESL teachers it's another day, another One Million Papers.