Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Teaching is an odd job

Well, teaching is an odd job if you teach the way I do.

Yesterday, the unit I was working on for this school had an exercise based on advertising. What advert do they give? Depilating cream. The picture was a crude sketch of a woman's legs and the text waxed lyrical about how it beats shaving and will leave your legs silky smooth. My student: "Huh?" To elaborate... my student is a Brazilian male, an accountant. Now, in Brazil, no one uses creams to depilate. They wax. Brazil is about wax. Then there's the fact that he's a single guy. What do single guys know about women's hair removal processes? I spent, I think, half the lesson getting him to understand what the lesson was about before we could get into the English part of the lesson.

A couple of weeks ago, my delinquent teens (ages 14 - 18), as I fondly refer to them, had to do a lesson on marriage and whether or not your love will last longer if you are friends first. The only girl clammed up and the guys muttered and looked awkward.

This morning, I had to do an exercise on stereotypes. The country of choice? America. The students had to justify the 'common' stereotypes related to America and a list was given.
1.   boastful and arrogant
2.   disrespectful of authority
3.   drunkard
4.   extravagant
5.   laid back
6.   ignorant of other countries and cultures
7.   informal
8.   insensitive
9.   lazy
10. loud and obnoxious
11. promiscuous
12. racist
13. wealthy
14. rude and immature
15. snobbish
16. stingy
17. think they know everything
18. uninformed about politics
19. always in a hurry
20. think every country should imitate the US
I found myself getting angrier and angrier as the list went on. No wonder they have such a low opinion of Americans if this kind of thing is reinforced in schools! The fact that the list came from an American university that interviewed foreigners doesn't help, in my opinion. I had one student who emphatically agreed with every statement until I asked her how many Americans she personally knows, that she can judge these things for herself. I then spoke about prejudice. Ugh... I'm meant to be teaching English!

I spent a longer than usual lesson this afternoon talking about dialects within the city, class distinction, ethnos-mixes, and the Brazilian constitution.

Yesterday I found my first student here in Brazil, or rather, Facebook found her for me. I started teaching two weeks after landing in Brazil. Patricia was a star student with excellent English she wanted to perfect, so that she could immigrate. She was a veritable sponge and would greedily lap up any and all information and correction I gave. She achieved her dream of immigration in 2004. Sadly, she's back in Brazil with major health problems. The curveballs life throws are sometimes really harsh.


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