Sunday, April 18, 2010

walkabout, and planning

I am uber-phlegmy last night and today. Partly it's the bread at breakfast, but mostly it was the two seafood-and-cheese empanadas yesterday with the WorldTeach gang, plus the Coke and then later the Magnum ice cream bar. All very tasty, but my system's a bit out of whack. I declined bread for breakfast today, much to Aurora's startlement (my host grandmother): the concept of not taking every opportunity to eat bread or drink tea appears to be unknown here. For the most part, the family is very well-educated and worldly, and expects me and Steve to be kinda different, so we're not experiencing any of the more extreme Chilean family behaviors: needing to know where you are at all times, scolding you for not wearing shoes around the house--the wives' tale is that you'll catch a cold/pneumonia/tuberculosis/whatever and get sick, which Oscar seems to think is funny at the same time he passes it on--but I think I finally surprised Aurora a bit more deeply.

This week I am "assisting" Marcela in the classroom, but unfortunately she doesn't have much clarity about what that means, and I'm not sure how much lesson planning she does as such, so we can't just modify her plan to include me; she asked me to "come up with something", probably for 30-45 minutes. Also unfortunately, I've been trained to teach a class of at most 25, seated in some kind of roundtable fashion, not a class of 45 kids seated at their desks in rows. Anna backs me up that it's not just my training or lack of it: it is genuinely difficult to teach a language to a group that size. And because it's not yet my classroom with my rules, I can't guide the experience quite the way I want. The good news is that (a) the kids are generally well-behaved anyway, and (b) the times so far that I've done some speaking with them, they're pretty much all up for it.

The worksheet they're working on is...advanced. (Click for large version.)

I think I'm going to ignore it and work on some basic conversational stuff, which is pretty much what English Opens Doors is here for, anyway.

But in the meantime, I'm here at a café on Cerro Alegre in Valparaíso. I took some photos; the guidebooks don't lie, the city actually does look this colorful and shabby (though Cerros Alegre and Concepción are more colorful than my hill, Cerro Rocuant, and many others). I came across this house, with the residents outside grilling some kind of extremely tough beef, which I accepted a piece of, and tried to eat before leaving and tossing the rest to a very happy street dog. (He ate it without chewing, so it wasn't a problem for him.)

What the hell am I going to do with 45 kids who can't get up and move around?

I'll let you know.

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