Wednesday, October 22, 2014
My primary concern, as a teacher of beginners, is the reluctance of a large number of my students to actually speak. Many of my students come from places where they sit in large classes, listen to teachers and never, ever interrupt. It's a cultural thing. It also explains why, despite sometimes having studied English for years, they cannot speak it at all. Sometimes I think that foreign English teachers instruct kids to always look at the floor and mumble when using English so that no one will ever detect those troublesome errors. Very, very bad advice, say I.
A few days back I had a real issue with a girl in one of my classes. She does well on exams, but will not utter a sound for the most part. When face to face with a question, she will answer, but with extreme reluctance. She has been a little upset with me since I made it clear that playing with her cell phone under her desk would get me to bend sideways, look under her desk, and tell her to put it away. She's tried other subterfuge, like hiding it under a book, but I keep catching her. Perhaps I should just let her use it and hope for the best. But I probably won't.
In any case, on this particular day, she kept putting her head down, hiding under various items of clothing, and acting peculiar in every way. I don't speak her first language, so I called her guidance counselor, who does. Sadly, she was unavailable. After investigating several less desirable choices, I sent her with another student to the nurse, who sent her right back to me. I never found out what happened.
The following day she returned, and was a little more cooperative. She seemed to follow a little better. I didn't even catch her using the phone. But of course, there was a crisis. Another student detected a cockroach the size of a Buick walking along a bulletin board in front of the classroom. It was pretty gross. I didn't know exactly what to do, so I tried to continue whatever it was I was doing. But miracle of miracles, my quiet girl got up unbidden, looked right at me, and asked, "Can I kill it?'
I was pondering a reply when she walked right up to it with a piece of paper, grabbed it and knocked it from its multicolored construction paper perch. I thought she had it, but apparently she did not. A very shy boy who speaks, but only when questioned, jumped up and stomped the thing to death.
I wonder whether Danielson would have awarded me points for my students' enthusiasm and initiative.