Expectation VS Reality {ESL Edition}

In the five years that I have been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to Korean and Japanese students, never a month passes when I am not spared the question:

“I have been studying English for (insert number of months), but my English is still very bad. Why don’t I speak English perfect?”

And always, always, I feel sort of annoyed at their farfetched expectation in learning a second language, at the same time I feel sorry that I have to, have to tell them the reality of it.

Allow me to share you my understanding of my students regarding this matter.

I’m not gonna preach because learning language could be different for everybody: some people have the gift of gab, picking up language a breeze; some are relatively unfortunate to need the use of the language at a later age in time, making the process of information…well, not so instant.

EXPECTATION VS REALITY

In my years teaching ESL, I have handled them all: kids with zero English, adults with zero English, students with more advanced vocabulary than I handle in daily life, and some with the practical skills but needs more for a certain goal.

The last of the bunch are the ones who usually pose the question above because as an Intermediate student, you get frustrated the most. This English level is the median between the beginner stage (wherein you can dismiss the expectation of excelling instantly and mostly rely on being spoon-fed with direct translation from native language to English), and the advance stage (wherein you already have confidence to express yourself in the language and with minimal and never-mind errors). As an Intermediate student, you have enough skills and knowledge of the language but struggle with the use of it, it’s like the puberty stage of learning. It’s in this level that most students, if they begin taking ESL classes as a beginner, start getting tired and impatient of progress. As a teacher, I can only assure them they are learning though not in the pace they expect.

Most of the time, I encounter this kind of confrontation/conversation/inquiry from students:

Student: Why is my English not good yet? I have study for 3 months. English is so difficult. I take lesson everyday, but I still do not speak good. Why is that?

You have to understand that for ESL teachers, this is not a good sign for the school/business. We have to assure students that they are in good hands, that they are getting their money’s worth. Though I’d be scolded–probably–for being too direct to my Korean/Japanese students, I tell them what’s wrong. As a “teacher” / “tutor” I feel compelled to encourage them studying the right way I know.

Me: Okay, after our (10/25 min) class, do you continue studying at home or on your free time?

Student: (laughing awkwardly) …no. Sometimes I am too tired from school/work, I have no time to study. Only this.

Me: (inwardly sighs) Well, there you go.

Puh-lease.

I’ve read an article that stated it takes about an average of 7 years for an ESL student to be fluent, this is of course in terms of conversational and academic. So wanting this be good in speaking a different language and not belonging to an intensive course for 3 months is BS. If it’s possible, then that’s a very small demographic.

Me: Do you speak in English when you get the chance in your country?

Student: No. I’m shy.

Me: Oh, but you have to try! Are there any foreigners in your office? Or other students who study English?

Student: Yes, but I am afraid. They speak very fast and I speak bad English. It’s very embarrassing.

You see?

My advice in anything (whenever somebody asks for my service) is sharing them what I have experienced. It’s no different in learning English.

I always share that aside from being naturally interested in English as a subject in school (and this is no bias because I loved Filipino too), my parents loved Hollywood films and TV series, so I grew up having no choice but to absorb the language. My mother has always listened to a certain local radio station wherein they spoke English 90% of the time, so I’d have that with breakfast as well. My loves reading magazines and books, but they were mostly English ones. I somehow found myself reading any labels in product containers, too. Of course, there’s the upper hand that I live in a country wherein English is much of a native language as Filipino, but that’s just my point you see. I’m a product of my own circumstance, however, I sure as hell I put a lot of effort to get to my level.

Choosing to learn, to be fluent in another language requires interest, devotion, love for it, be in a relationship with it. You have to be ready to face it, leave it when needed, and come back to it, again and again.

If honesty isn’t such a difficult liberty, I’m sure most of my  students would probably scoff at me and say, “Easy for you to say, you’re very good in English already.” or even “You’re lucky, you’re Filipino” (most of them hold back their honest opinions, it’s a socio-cultural thing) whenever I tell them that in learning English, or any kind of language for that, we have to ask ourselves what we want from it and accept the circumstances and consequences that comes with the learning of it.

I realized that some of my students don’t even know what they want or need from the language. I mean, some just want to travel and communicate comfortably, but they go the distance of learning business English and even take TOEFL practices/exams. I’d say, take a conversation class at least three times a week, study basic grammar an hour everyday, watch plenty of English movies (use subtitles in the beginning and practice without it once), join international chatrooms, get a penpal, etc. because these are suitable for the goal of a traveler: to communicate in comfort with foreigners.

I myself am struggling with Nihonggo (Japanese language). I am a beginner student who has completed 4 months of studying. To evaluate myself, I think I’m an Upper-Beginner now. I easily picked up the formal lessons in grammar and vocabulary due to years of exposure to Japanese media and readings. Some people ask me why I am studying Japanese if I don’t intend to work in Japan anyway, well, the answer is simple I just want to be able to watch my favorite Japanese shows without subtitle in the future. If my core skills increase and time and opportunity allows me to use this skill in more practical areas like work in translation, then that’s a lovely perk! So despite my initial reluctance to learn Business Nihonggo, I think it is useful. In a country like Japan wherein the use of language is as reflective as the way you dress, then this is for survival.

I learned that every language has its own characteristic and functions according to its society and culture. This is something which I hope my students would also try to understand regarding English, though complicated as the two languages have so much difference in both form and character.

Anyway, my journey into learning Nihonggo allowed me to have a better perspective of my students because like them, I struggle, I get frustrated then lazy when it gets difficult, and I lack the time to self-study when other life concerns get in the way.

Nonetheless, overall, our relationship with language is a lifetime because as it evolves, we have to catch-up with it, be patient with it, be positive with our devotion for it. Indeed, learning a new language can be extremely vexing, but what is one emotion compared to the whole world beyond what language can allow us to reach, right?

It’s a very enlightening experience so far, this whole deal with language and people. How fascinating.

How very very fascinating indeed.

…some of my happiest funniest times have been spent in offices. Perhaps because the work was mundane, even the tiniest of distractions become wildly hilarious and wonderful. Actually, I’d say that 90 percent of my doubled-over-gasping-with-laughther-laughing-so-much-that-you-can’t-breathe-and-you-think-you-might-die laughing has occurred during slow days in offices.

Miranda Hart, Is it Just Me? (memoir)

I agree.I miss the office life. Nothing beats a routine job better than chaos with co-workers on breaks.

The Origin

This is an entry of my dear Senior Citron Pedro Voyage, my lemony companion. He is new to the internet, well, basically to the world of humans, do give him a “hola!” when you have the time. 🙂

The Lemony Life

ImageI am Citron therefore I am Lemon!

 

Do you see what I did there? Citron is French for “lemon” because, yes, my dear reader, I am half-French. I iHola! to you because I am also half-Spanish. Good genes, yes?

However, I do not know how I come about with my ancestry, but my creator, Seniorita Michella I believe has an afiliación with them. Or I dare think she likes French and Español chicos, I don’t know. Anyhow, my full name is Citron Pedro Voyage. It is nice to meet you.

Can I get to know you? Yes? Okay.

I will do my introducción first. Okay, here we go.

I am a free soul who loves to meet new people. Seniorita Michella has introduce me to her other friends in her house and they welcome me so warmly. I am very happy. In the past, you should know, is…

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Some people

Image…can make me so cross.

Seriously, I don’t get angry easily, I don’t even get annoyed so much unless you do something which I think is very unfair and you say something very unreasonable.

So.

All circuits are busy now, please try again later.

bitch.

I’d allow you the liberty to demand if you’ve been helping out, but no, you suddenly pop-up when it’s convenient to express your unfair judgement of the situation. And really, you have absolutely no right to react and interfere in a situation you have made apparent that you don’t care by being absent most of the time to a problem which you should have been involved with months ago.

Fuck you. You call yourself family but you don’t act like it. You’re all mouth.

WHAT A DAY!

I would say that 01.09.2014 is a good day oh yes, indeed.

Late in the afternoon I met up with Pam and Jaimy (former co-teacher and former student, respectively) at MarketMarket/Bonifacio High Street. It’s been a while since I last saw these two, especially Jaimy! She’s my very very first Korean student whom I’ve handled face-to-face so she’s very dear to me. Bonuses are of course that’s she’s super nice and even if she’s innately shy, she doesn’t mind my loudness. She’s bungisngis when you get to know her better. I’m also happy to note that after one year and four months of staying in the Philippines to study English, her skills have tremendously improved, and she doesn’t even notice it! It was wise to resign then. If I never left that school, she never would have changed teachers because Koreans are loyal like that. I think the teachers handling her now are doing a great job. She’s now more talkative because she can understand us better. I’m just so happy to note this~ ❤

Meanwhile, I sort of coerced Jaimy and Pam to help me find a postcard which I’ll send to Russia for my Postcrossing contribution.

 

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They’re not very unique, but I think fitting for an entry to this new hobby. Well, if it does develop into a hobby. Soon enough I’d start snail-mailing a penpal, too. And that would be for another entry. 🙂

Anywho, while browsing through the postcard section of MarketMarket’s National Bookstore, I stumbled on this:

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In the beginning, I thought it was a misplaced postcard because it wasn’t in a plastic, kinda dirty, and just plain out of place with the whole Philippines theme of the postcard rack. Until I was in line to pay for the postcards did I realize that it’s not actually one, but simply one of those cards sometimes between the pages of a book which serves as advertisement by publishing companies. Since my postcards were so generic, I wanted this monkey-boss-designed card to be a postcard so much that I just held onto it.

(You can say that I meant to steal it.)

Upon realization, despite my original intention to steal it, the card apparently, maybe, fell off someone’s book, another person mistook it too as a postcard then put it on the rack. I saw it afterward and took it. More of a finder’s keepers case. Since the owner is anonymous, it’s not stealing, just taking something when no one’s claiming.

And so, I have not stolen anything since 1995. YEY!

On another note, my planner is busier than I actually am:

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I know it looks like the next promising face of chaos, but I am more at home with this than a pristine page with nicely structured hand-writing. I swear.

 

ON FANDOM-related newsSHELDON FINALLY INITIATED A KISS AND GAVE AMY THE ROMANCE SHE DESERVES.

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Okay, last week’s episode just made me bleh, though it was funny it just didn’t feel like the old The Big Bang Theory where the mix of humor, science geekiness, and romance were balanced. I somewhat feel that season 7 put too little attention to the science element and focuses too heavily on the personal relationships. Of course I rejoice on the Sheldon/Amy progress, but I hope there will be a progress on the science as well since the show was primarily established on that image.

So yeah, lately this feeling has left me a bit unappreciative of the humor as well, but then this episode happened.

I swear, I couldn’t stop grinning throughout!!! I started feeling soooooooooooooo sorry for Amy because Sheldon was being a jerk on their Valentines date then this scene happened.

I just melted into goo. *SIGH*

After four years of waiting, all the fanfiction written, the discussions and theories and analysis within the fandom, our collective sympathy for Amy, then this effing kiss happened.

In Tumblr, there’s a #SIK tag which I totally didn’t get for a while when I realized that the SHAMY (Sheldon/Amy) fans have been counting down the episodes when Sheldon would initiate the kiss. 

Do you get it? (Let’s assume you’re a smart one.)

Yep. Before this Amy had been alone initiating any kind of physically intimacy between the two of them. Actually, if one by-passes the glory of that scene that happened, Sheldon was pressured by the situation of Amy being annoyed at him and admitting that she did sort of schemed the whole vintage train atmosphere to get some romance. Basically, this whole thing happened still because of Amy’s doing. However, if you think more romantically on it, Sheldon would never kiss anybody if Amy never happened.  

Yeah, I definitely love this pair. They are, indeed, one of my truest OTP. 8D

(and now I sleep.

err

Yep, read

then sleep.)

Happy 50th Birthday, Tita!

Happy 50th Birthday, Tita!

As I prayed, she made it to her 50th birthday. If we’re lucky, we can still celebrate the 51st. I am hopeful, but not expecting too much as it would hurt. We have to be realistic and simply be thankful that as of now, she’s still well enough to wear gorgeous red lipstick with me and take silly selfies, overflowing my dad’s phone memory with unnecessary vanity.

Love you!