Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two citizens down and 1,209,480,000 to go

We have no more openings at my school. Sorry, I know so many of you were eager to work there - but the positions have all been filled. We now have M, a BYU grad who majored in Spanish and has a TESOL cert from the U; I like her, though I wish she'd stop snickering when she hears me attempt Spanish. I know it's probably hard NOT to laugh, but some appreciation of how difficult it is would be appreciated. We also have A, who used to be a tutor for our school way back in the day, and liked it so much she lived in three different countries as an ESL teacher before coming back to the U.S. for her master's. She's partway through a Ph.D program. A little intimidating, all that education, but she's very nice and not at all more-educated-than-thou. I like her.

Rounding out the staff is our lone representative of the male gender, R. R is Iranian by birth and speaks Farsi, Arabic and a little Turkish. He has a master's degree and oodles of experience. He also has a smile reminiscent of Vizzini in "The Princess Bride," the one he's wearing right before he keels over dead. He squints his eyes and smiles, quite literally, ear to ear and reveals both top and bottom teeth. Fortunately he has fine teeth, if Phineas went around smiling like that I might be ill. Phineas is not overly cheery, though, so no worries. (Speaking of Phineas, he's not really my tutor anymore, as B "borrowed" him for one of her students. I think she thinks she is going to give him back - she hasn't put him on her matching sheet and keeps asking me if it's ok for her to use him. As far as I'm concerned, he's not mine anymore - I don't have students for him. He really belongs to her. But I don't think she wants permanent custody. Hmmm.) Back to R - he's really very nice, I think he just tries too hard. You tell him, "This is the copy machine" and he responds "That's great! Fantastic!" So he's a little over-the-top but infinitely preferable to the candidate who flamed out after only one night, totally unable to do the job, and besides that her personality had us all wondering if perhaps she had taken some Valium by mistake.

Also, FANTASTIC news, another one of my students passed her citizenship test yesterday. This is proof that miracles really do happen. I really wonder if it was just pity on the part of the examining officer - her spoken English is marginal, her written English is worse, and she has a horrible time remembering facts. She claims to have dementia but we don't have it documented. She's been with the school five years though, and never made a level gain, so certainly SOMETHING is going on. At any rate she's got her citizenship now, and I am crazy happy for her. I didn't really want to go to work yesterday - I've got a cold, Adia's got a cold, I was tired and congested and achy - but that made my day.

Also, my Somalian student passed HIS citizenship test! I didn't even know he was studying for it. He was super excited yesterday, telling me about his swearing in date, and how he thought coming to class was helping him because he was able to read the test manual on his own. He said he studied all weekend for it. I also asked him if his wife was interested in coming to school. He said yes, but they have two young children and didn't know what to do with them if they both studied. I told him there were a couple of options, and we should at least get her application in and on the wait list for babysitting. He seemed surprised that we provided babysitting, and also really excited. It sounds like she would like to come. I know firsthand how lonely it can be in a foreign country, and I wasn't even home with kids all day. I think there's a community here of Somalians but if we could offer her a little change of pace, and a chance to improve her English, that would be awesome.

The depressing thing is, our waiting list is so freaking long right now. It was 165 students last I checked, and I think we did 5 or 6 intakes last night alone. It's discouraging to feel like we double our capacity and still not serve everyone. I hate telling applicants about the waiting list - they always look sad and discouraged. Blah.

Funny thing that happened last night. . . A is learning to do intakes, and I was observing. M wandered over to chat. It wasn't a good time, really, because we were about to start the intake, but she stayed to watch. Only she must not have realized that we were doing an intake, or what that is, because as soon as A asked a question the applicant couldn't answer, M translated! It wasn't that big of deal - the student was very basic and we knew that - but we had to explain to M that she couldn't translate what is essentially a placement test. It was funny.

More about the girls tomorrow.

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