Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I am wondering about teaching English using Skype today. I have talked with my students about it, and it is something they are interested in. Has anyone out there ever tried it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm back - with a focus!

I now have the most interesting and challenging class of my teaching career. At night I am teaching 5 Somalian students who cannot read or write. I am not versed in literacy education but I am learning fast. The hardest thing to do when teaching ESL to students who can't speak a lick is to go so s-l-o-w t-h-a-t y-o-u f-o-r-g-e-t h-o-w t-o s-p-e-a-k English yourself. If they can't understand you then you are all alone in the classroom. Comprehensible input is the key. In fact, I go so slow with these students that I have a hard time speaking with native speakers after I am finished; my friends asking me why I am flailing my arms and slobbering when I meet them after night classes for a drink. (After I teach advanced classes I cannot think of the actual word for anything, only the definitions for the words I would like to say.)

The 5 Somalian students are older learners, 50/60 years old I assume, and they aren't as fortunate and Arabic speakers, whose accent translates well into English, Spanish speaking students, whose alphabet and expose to English makes it easier on them, or even my Asian students, who have a knack for learning and who study more than I ever have. I guess I understand the culture, as much as this gringo can without ever going to Somalia, and I at least know about the pirates (who has pirates?) and that besides Eritrea it is the only country without a functioning government.

My students remind me of the beginning of humanity. They're from the cradle of civilization, and I can imagine that life has changed quite a bit since the beginning, but I also imagine that it has changed less for them than it has for anyone who is able to read this post.

They strictly follow Islam, they take an unsanctioned break at sundown to pray and they ask for help with the soda and snack machines. (The next lesson is on the value of money.) Islam is something I had to learn to understand because I was somewhat naive and uneducated about it before working here. There is a big difference between Saudi Arabia and Somalia when it comes to religion. In fact, the dumbed down version of course, is that there is a big difference between Saudi Arabia and every other Muslim nation.

Blah! I do not want this to turn into anything political or religilous! But the different headscarves and women's dress is IMPOSSIBLE not to mention. And the prayer breaks...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An English Language Adventure

I'm thinking about starting an English Language Adventure course for the summer months! I want to travel with about seven students throughout the United States and teach English along the way. There's so much to see and do and I've got experience doing it. I'd like to share that experience with other (both teaching English and traveling the United States. I figure we can make it from KC to Southern California and back in about four weeks. So if you know anyone who might be interested please let me know.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Rock

Here's a rock shot for everyone. I don't start teaching until Monday. Argh, what am I going to do without my son tonight? I am going out on the town to reach out, over the counter and grab a few beers. Our album should be out soon.