Monday, March 19, 2012

The Agony and the Ecstasy...and the Agony

A colleague was taking his spring break a little early so he invited me round last night for some tea and it turned into a bit of a late night. Didn't make it to bed until about 1AM and I knew that 5.30 wake up call was going to be a major burden. Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and slowly prepared myself for the day ahead. I trudged downstairs to join my fellow proles on our journey to work when lo a beautiful message was given to us, first in whispers, then with greater confidence as the information was confirmed: No Work! A sandstorm had caused all schools, colleges, and universities to be closed. My burden lifted I returned to my room with a song in my heart and rediscovered the sweet embrace of my bed.
The perfect antidote to a hectic week; an unexpected day off to recuperate. Alas, it was not to be an hour later the shrieking wail of the telephone ripped me from my dreams and I entered the living nightmare of being called back to work.
All the teachers were asked to get on the bus and come to work. Our lovely students had received an SMS last night informing them not to attend classes as a result, perhaps they received a second telling them to come but as you can imagine they decided to listen to the former and ignore the latter. So, us teachers are in the unenviable position of coming to an empty school and braving the elements for no discernible reason. There's a lesson in there somewhere but I am not sure what it is.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

She's nice but...

Today was exam day which is one of my favourite days of all! Two hours of review in the morning which means I get to sit at my desk and catch up on emails and do a little reading while panicked students attempt to cram mountains of vocabulary into somewhat underdeveloped brains.
Exam day also brings a great deal of mirth in terms of student mistakes in their 'creative' answers. For example a student was asked to complete the sentence I live they wrote I live water we also got I don't like to father in the car  as well as Jeddah butter good Riyadh. However, these students do create magic sometimes and one of them wrote something that really made me think, this Socratic fellow came up with this when completing the sentence She's nice but:
She's nice but, she isn't
This young man whose experience with the opposite sex is quite limited by the culture in which he lives still managed to get at the essence of the fairer sex She's nice but she isn't.
I think most of us would have answered the question differently and approached the whole task with a different frame of mind perhaps She's nice but she smells funny, She's nice but a bit overweight, perhaps a comparison She's nice but her friend is nicer, She's nice but I like her sister more. An almost infinite list of possibilities emerges and therein lies the problem with teaching a language. All the best laid plans of us teachers to force students to say what we want them to say are thrown off by the immensity of options open to speakers of the language. How were we teachers and exam crafters to know that this young man would have, in his short time on this planet, been hoodwinked by a cunning vixen who convinced this unsuspecting lad that she was nice when she wasn't.
She's nice but she isn't
A difficult lesson to be learned by one so young I hope the check mark I placed on his exam is some small consolation for the hurt that woman in fact is not nice inflicted upon him.