Apr 26, 2008

My Class

Monday is the last class of the month, and then we have a week's time to recuperate. I have been thinking about my students in my 6:30 Survival English class.

Just as the class has evolved, so have the students. Having had 2 months to observe them, I find myself amazed by their personalities and humor. Five students have emerged from the group as motivated, outgoing, determined, and hilarious. All are officers in the Peruvian military. All have endeared themselves to me. I only have one more month with them before I send them off to parts unknown to serve with the United Nations.

Renzo, also known as The Commander, is the only one in the clas that has the distinction of being a Marine...similar to the Special Forces. He is very tall (about 6'3" and way too big for the desks in the classroom), with a deep voice. He tries hard to maintain a stern face and a serious attitude, but just cannot. Underneath the seriousness is a total joker. Renzo is my best student. He reads well and speaks well, but with a thick, thick accent that frustrates him.

Marcos came to the class not speaking more English than "my name is Marcos." He is in the class because it's free and he was offered the opportunity to attend. He is not going to deploy anywhere. Marcos is one of my two most motivated students. He has been studying his 6-year-old daughter's first grade English reader and attends class each day without fail. Marcos now speaks quite well and can have a conversation will difficulty, but only because his vocabulary is smaller than mine.

Mauricio, aka The Doctor, is a frightfully intelligent nerd. One of those people whose mind goes too fast for his mouth, his speaks in a nasal voice and constantly says "uh, uh" while his mouth catches up to his thoughts. His vocabulary is much more expansive than most of the other students', but he is a disaster when speaking. In spite of that, he absolutely LOVES to talk and once he starts, it's almost impossible to shut him up. The Doctor is an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

Eduardo is a helicopter pilot who also spoke almost no English when he started with us last month. He speaks well now, but with an accent so think you can almost cut it with a knife and cannot talk without a smile and the use of his hands. When he is answering questions in class, his looks like he is ready to take off from his seat with arms flapping like a bird.

Magaly is a quiet but determined woman, destined for the Congo. She speaks with a elegantly latin accent, but very clearly and carefully. She is the only one who is able to maintain her composure in class, but laughs out loud during our 15 minute break.

If you were to look in the clasroom at any given time, you would be able to observe Renzo hunched serously at a desk much to small for him, with his knees practically around his ears; Marcos, bent intently over his lesson, wrists braced on the sides of his head with his hands moving above the head like a horse's ears that swivel back and forth with understanding or confusion; The Doctor spouting off nasally, um um um...; Eduardo speaking through a smile, with emphasis on words in odd places in a sentence ("Every DAY she would WALK inTO the officcccce, with A big SMILE on her FACE.") and flapping like an albatross at his desk; Magaly sitting primly, secretly grinning like a hyena behind her hands, pronouncing each word carefully.

I'm glad I have one more month with them.

7 comments:

Preseli Mags said...

What fascinating characters!

Frances said...

Your classroom sounds a warm and encouraging place. I have a friend who has just begun taking Italian lessons. She is always terrified that she will make a mistake. I sense that her teacher is not forging the atmosphere that you've described creating in your class. Well done!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh Kat what a lovely description of your students - you sound very fond of them and will miss them when they go - but as you say you still have a whole month with them. Will you have a party at the end of term?

lampworkbeader said...

They sound a really interesting bunch of people to teach.

Cowgirl said...

Oh Kat, what a wonderful picture you have drawn for us all!

They must be a delight! I loved the bit about his hands like horses ears... what a giggle!

You will miss them!

Oksana said...

I love your observations. The funny thing is, they've probably become accustomed to your mannerisms the same way you have to theirs. As their teacher, though, you'll probably remember theirs much longer.

True, we don't hear much about Jane Fonda anymore. Although I did hear that Dr. Phil tried hitting on her on the set of some TV talk show.

Kathleen said...

Oh absolutely! They mimic me during class all the time. I usually add a tag question at the end of a grammar point or an explanation or definition...something like "Right?" just to verify that they understand, and they always repeat it as soon as I say it. I try to get them laughing because I think people learn more easily if they are enjoying their lessons, and they mimic me in that, too.

Dr. Phil...hmmm...he's not even a real doctor, is he?