Meet the Stoods: The ESL diaries

Well, I've decided to revive this old girl on account of my new class, which I think deserves at least a weekly post to remind myself (and probably no one else) what my first official semester at Trum@n is like.

The first class was this past Saturday and I had 38 students enrolled, only 29 of which showed up. Thank goodness, since there was one extra chair and I was using it. I was really nervous before class started, but once I saw one of my fellow employees, I felt better. This lady is stone cold nuts. She wears these opaque rubber boots all of the time, boots that are held together with duct tape, to "protect her from radiation." That's what one of the other teachers told me over the summer. She ambles around like she drank a lithium cocktail on the way to school. She's clearly insane, and if SHE has a job there, surely I will look good in comparison -- to the students as well as the administration. At least I hope so.

The class went well:
  1. First we took attendance.
  2. I had them fill out little questionnaires about themselves and how they use English, where they're from, etc. As everyone was filing in, this is what they were doing. I wanted them to warm up a little bit before we started talking.
  3. We went around the class and introduced ourselves, blablabla. That was fun. I have students from the following countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Russia, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Poland, Haiti, Vietnam, Ecuador, Colombia and I think that's it.
  4. Then I went over the syllabus (as much as I had) and explained to them what the portfolio is going to be like. They seemed to like it. I told them that it would probably be more work, but they would learn a lot more. I explained that my goal is to increase their vocabulary, help them with pronunciation and intelligibility and enable them to speak comfortably and confidently to native speakers. They were cool with that.
  5. Once that was done, we started talking about should/should not. They knew a lot more than I thought they did, so we did a lot of talking about health, and what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. I had them get into groups and make lists of what people should and should not do in order to stay healthy.
  6. BREAK -- 20 min.
  7. When we came back, I handed out the story about the Christian Scientists, we did the agree/disagree portion and read the intro. Thelm@ is really confident. She's also married to someone from Iowa. Muscatine, to be precise. Rum@ny (is that his name? I can't remember) seems to be really opinionated too. I hope his wife, who is also in the class, keeps him from making people mad. At least he seems really smart. He knows what he's talking about. His grammar is pretty bad though.
  8. We talked about people's rights to refuse a doctor's advice for a while and I had them write their answers to the comprehension questions on the board. They seemed to really enjoy talking about the differences between traditional Eastern medicine and modern Western medicine. There was some confusion over which one was being referred to in the question as "nonconventional" since convention differs depending on where you come from. The woman who asked about that, whose name I have completely forgotten, is really bright. We went over the answers and I was going to correct some grammar, but we ran out of time and I had to explain what to do for homework. They were to read the story and complete the opinion-based questions at the end.

Overall, the class went as well as I could have hoped. Idiotically, I left BOTH of my folders in room 2424 and right now they're just sitting on a counter (hopefully) with everyone's writing in there. I've already woken up at 6AM two days in a row worrying about it -- from now on I am going to do a mental checklist before I leave that place and make sure that I have everything. It's tough to keep track of all of the stuff I need. Also, next time I will bring a snack that I actually eat. The cereal I had at 7:45AM didn't carry my through to 2PM very well.

Next week: comps! It's the TESL section, so I'm not too worried about it. It will be a long essay, I suspect. I need to brush up on theory and stuff, but I should be fine on this one.



I'm sorry I haven't written much in here lately. I don't really have a whole lot to say. I'll let you know when I do.


I've got your special purpose right here...

This dipshit wrote to my favorite advice columnist asking him to tell her how to give "purpose" to her otherwise ridiculously perfect life.

I have a suggestion...

And I'm pretty sure this isn't supposed to be funny, but, well, it is.

Kenyon College's what?!?!



The Black Keys say this and a couple of other really nice things about their hometown. My hometown. Also, my parents told me that they sat next to Chrissie Hynde at a restaurant a while ago. There would have been a puddle underneath my chair if I had been sitting next to Chrissie Hynde. We'll leave it at that.


What will we do with the drunken sailor?

While I am aware that I might be among the four living people who is enchanted by both MIDI and sea shanties, the other three of you out there will find this site a real treasure.

I found it while I was looking for the lyrics to "Poor Murdered Woman." (Even though it's not a song of the sea, it is a traditional folk song) Not only did I find the lyrics, I pleased to also hear a strange, synthy rendition of the song playing when I opened the page.

If you want to know the words as well as the tune, this is your place, laddie. Also noteworthy is The Contemplator's Microencyclopedia of Folk Music, where you can get your belly full of ballads.


The Cutest Music On Earth

If you're a fan of MIDI, the tinkly electronic sounds that conjure up a group of kittens or baby bunnies playing instruments and you also happen to enjoy the compositions of Eric Bachmann, you will LOVE these MIDI versions of Archers of Loaf songs.

I want to pinch the cheeks of these songs and smother them with hugs.

[Note: It's a link to the Crooked Fingers message board, so I will use this opportunity to hop out on a tangent and remind anyone who cares that Ball of Wax is being released on DVD tomorrow, March 8. Wow, I'm really glad I don't have to draw a structure tree for that sentence, because it's a real mother. Also a real mother: Ball of Wax.]

Dissection: An Interactive Activity for Your Box of Affirmations

[Note: I would post the link to this if I weren't afraid of being caught, but I am, so I won't. I'm trying to focus on this mangled corpse of a paragraph as a pedagogical example rather than a dead varmint on the side of the road.]

What you are about to read is one of the most atrocious paragraphs ever published about Wilco. In the comments section, I want to find out what you would have said to the writer in order to improve her writing. Seriously. I had that chance repeatedly and I never knew what to tell her, aside from "stop drinking Malibu while you write" and "think again before you use ardor as a verb," etc. All I know is that when someone evokes "the human spirit" I feel I'm headed for serious trouble.

While Tweedy successfully uses pathos in his
music, portraying and reaching into the essence of the human spirit, he also uses his dazzling talent on guitar, backed by his bandmates’ prolific expertise,
to fill out the songs that move so dauntingly. The experimentally expressive “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” would not have peaked had it not been for guitarist Nels Cline’s outstanding noise-inducing comma. Getting lost in the momentous extractions of static and tweaks was like being trapped in a box of affirmations.

[Note: My patron saint at the Language Log has developed a grammar that falls between prescriptive and descriptive: reactive grammar. Also known informally over beer and pretzels as WTF grammar. Defined very loosely, it's the reaction you have to the paragraph above. Thank you, sir!]