Friday, March 26, 2010

Crash Course

I just finished my first course and so far I've learned a lot about teaching, and perhaps specifically about teaching middle-aged Germans. I've compiled a list of likes and dislikes of my students thus far:

talking about their families
speaking German
jokes about dating Brad Pitt
singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes"
complaining about English

singing "The ABC Song"
speaking English
jokes about Daniela Katzenberger

So, if I can just utilize more "likes" and avoid all "dislikes"....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who's the boss?

I've survived a grand total of three days of teaching so far, and I have to say I'm pretty amazed. Part of me was pretty sure that when my class came into the room, they would take one look at me and say "Why should we listen to you?" It is strange to be the youngest person in the room and be in charge.

I have a "crash course" for the next two weeks. 5 absolute beginners for 6 hours a day. Despite my fears, they are all delightful. I've made a few mistakes so far (mostly of the "duh" variety such as writing "Who What Whe Why?") But instead of demanding my resignation, we mostly laugh about such things.

There is usually at least one headache a day. Today it was the present progressive tense. ("I am going" instead of "I go.") But its really exciting when they understand what I'm saying, and I'm very pleased that the shy students seem to be gaining confidence. There are also students who have gone down a peg confidence-wise, but that was perhaps necessary. Not even the teacher knows everything.

Their vocabulary is still pretty small, so they don't make really funny mistakes,but they do manage to surprise me. Today they had an assignment to talk about clothes that they never wear. I taught them it's too big/small/short/long/old. And a very quiet woman told me "I never wear my black dress because my children tell me it's too sexy and tight."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

10 on 10

I still haven't taught my first class yet. They're starting a new session on Monday, so I'm jumping in head first with 32 hours next week! But in the meantime, here's "10 on 10", an idea I borrowed from my friend Bonnie. The idea is on the 10th of the month to take 1 photo an hour for 10 hours. So instead of my usual verbose self, I'll let some pictures do the talking.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Training Daze

Today was the last day of my training for my new job. Starting tomorrow I'm available to teach, and will find out soon what my first class is. All pretty nerve wracking! Last week was spent doing practice lessons, which I felt very comfortable with. But today I was given orientation in our Frankfurt school and sat in on a difficult grammar lesson...and now I'm feeling pretty nervous! The teacher was explaining "reported speech" i.e. "He said he was going to the doctor tomorrow." or "the secretary informed me that he was out of the office." I've never thought about all the verb tenses in a sentence like that, but soon I could be teaching that very lesson!

To my American friends, cross your fingers. To my German friends, hold your thumbs. Maybe between all that we can drum up enough good luck for some smooth sailing through the first few classes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Opa Patrol

Today was my first day of work, well training really, and it went well. Its a bit dry at the moment, mostly going over the "principles" of the school, which are not to be confused with the "language learning conditions" or the "learning cycle." We did get an example lesson in Russian, which was kind of fun. I can now say the colors in Russian, but can't spell them, so you'll just have to trust me on that one.

BUT what was really odd today was the Opa (grandpa) patrol. I must explain. When my parents lived in Germany 20-something years ago, my mother was continually harassed as she pushed my brother and I in the pram by German Omas (grandmothers). We were not dressed warmly enough, or not wrapped properly, or simply too skinny!

Perhaps because I don't have children, I haven't encountered the Oma patrol. Though if I'm ever in the grocery store, I find asking old ladies about the various foods to be quite helpful. Do you want to know the difference between the red and white sauerkraut? Ask an old lady. (But be prepared for a 20 minute answer.)

What I do find is that old men like to give me unsolicited advice. Usually its about general safety or cost effectiveness. The other week an old gent told me I shouldn't buy the crate of beer, but rather take all the beer bottles out of the crate and carry them individually, as there is a deposit on the crate. Right. Normally I just smile and say "Thank you, I will think about that in the future." But today an Opa really got on my nerves.

I was weaving through the crowded supermarket after work, just stopping in for a bottle of wine, when I felt a jab in my back. An old man was poking me quite hard and saying, "HALLO! You must hold your bag closed! A thief will steal your wallet!" I was pretty annoyed, jerked my bag away from him, and walked off. He called after me "THANK YOU!" in that voice that meant I should be the one saying it.

I simply rolled my eyes and kept walking. But I'm starting to think I should really say something to all this undesired advice. I don't want to be rude, but I would like to let them know that their advice is un-asked for and undesired. So here's what I've come up with:

1. Thank you, but I'm 25 years old, not 15, and I can look after myself just fine.
2. I'm sorry, do we know each other? Then why are you telling me this?
3. Dad? Is that you? You look so different!

No offense to my dad, of course. But he's the only man that can give me such advice without receiving a quite exaggerated eye roll. Leave a comment and let me know what you would say to such advice.