Semakit El Kersh!

7 October, 2009

(The title is Arabic for Shark!!!)

Today I had my first teaching session with an Egyptian ESL student. As it was meant to be an assessment, as opposed to a teaching session, I created a lesson plan which included various springboards for conversation. Jesse, a girl who has already been through the certificate course warned me that I will most likely be paired with an extremely advanced English speaker who will speak better English than I do.  Become of this, I framed my session so that I could easily be able to hold a conversation about various topics while leaving some flexibility so I could switch to simple yes / no questions and some point, nod and toss some word salad time if needed.  I included a world map, a map of Egypt and a map of the United States so she could tell me where she grew up, where she traveled to and I could tell her my life story based on where I’ve lived in and out of the states.  Sure enough, I got paired with a twenty year old practicing to become a translator who has a strong interest in all things politics, economics and science related. As soon as I entered the room we started bantering about, until a few minutes later when I realized that I should probably use some of the lesson plan that I had been constructing all morning.

We talked about traveling, future plans, family members, music, hobbies and favorite books. I was pleasantly surprised by how articulate and well read she was and we even shared book recommendations to each other. I incorporated the song “Pachuca Sunrise” by Minus the Bear with my listening activity and made up a worksheet where she could fill in the blanks with lyrics. The first blank spot was “Mediterranean,” which seemed appropriate given how we were a stone’s throw away from the sea.  She enjoyed the song, which made me happy, if I had some blank cds I’d love to make her a mix.  Alas, this is just a two day teaching practice and so I won’t have any time to make her any cds.  Perhaps I’ll just make a list of recommended bands, songs and books that Egyptians probably don’t hear about.  I told her about some of my favorite modern writers (Klosterman, Sedaris and Eggers, oh my!), which she said she would look up at her local library but I felt a little bit guilty of being culturally insensitive when I realized that one of the authors was most famous for a book entitled “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.” Well, that’s the nature of American sardonica and pop culture these days right?  She told me that her favorite book of all time was Mein Kampf, which she appreciates for the historical significance and the interesting social commentary rather than how it was written by Mr. H, the nazinator. She’s also into Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe and Anne Rice. Her grammar was perfect, her pronunciation fairly good but she would talk really fast and mush together words sometimes so I told her that for our second (and final) session, I’d give her a lesson in phonology and pronunciation. She is currently in the process of applying to work at a call center for a business so I told her that increasing her articulation would help her immensely. I hope I can help her in any way possible in the 50 minutes that I will be with her tomorrow, if not I hope she at least enjoys the Michael Jackson listening activity that I’m planning for her.

So I’m not sure if Kenny mentioned this in an earlier blog, but Egyptian Thursdays are the equivalent of everywhere else Fridays and Egyptian Sundays are the equivalent of Americastani Mondays. Therefore, tomorrow is my Friday, which I will celebrate with a nice seafood dinner. Yum!

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2 Responses to “Semakit El Kersh!”

  1. laura nisbet said

    You sound like a natural teacher,Set!

  2. nogicskis said

    damn! minus the bizzear, fabulous. i love reading this. i want more! miss you!

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