And so begins my last month in Germany, and it won’t even be a whole month.
Today I had the pleasure of being involved with a couple of Class 7 English lessons. Eurythmy was joyously cancelled and a free period enabled me to “hang about” and talk some English.
They told me that they found the lessons very boring. Their relationship with their teacher isn’t very good and they all feel like they’re not getting anywhere. They think their English is awful but they’re all eager to learn more. Talking to them, I could see that they understood a lot.
Together we laughed and carried on and generally ignored the official parameters of the exercise. I think they should be shown how to have more fun with English. Language can be fun – it doesn’t have to be all doom, gloom and grammar. Say, Look, you can do this, but if you shut up for a bit and let me teach you something else, you’ll be able to do so much more.
Language learning, it appears, is built around the constant reminding of the lack of ability. No one actually needs to say to someone at school in a language lesson at the age of 12 or 13 that they can’t do much with the language – they know it for themselves.
Suggest that they can do more than they think, but make it clear that there’s more to learn and that it can be done, and I think you won’t concrete in the once hungry stomach for new words and more understanding.
Another English teacher who was listening in on our outside conversation group – she was “keeping an eye on Class 10 – you never know what they get up to” – was shocked at the approach she’d overheard. She said this to me. “But it was so informal? They need to learn to talk properly first.” “Perhaps,” I said, “but don’t children learn to talk informally first – the formal stuff comes later as it’s often more complex. Why shouldn’t they learn to speak informally and have fun first and then go on to study the ins and outs of formalities and social requirements?” I could sense she wanted to argue, but the bell went – thank a deity of your choice.
On Sunday I was in Basel again (this time without a fellow Australian to create a somewhat derogatory photo essay of my efforts) for a type-in – the gathering of more than one typewriter nerd for some serious typewriter fun. Find out all of the details here, at my typewriter blog: http://dhiatensor.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/from-type-in-in-basel-world-exclusive.html.
Today was April Fool’s Day – or, as it is referred to here, “April, April”. Planning began yesterday with concepts of claiming Obama was dead and that it didn’t make the papers because of time zone differences. None of it happened at the school today, though, and it was left to the Badische Zeitung to run a little something on its 19th page.
The 19th page article, entitled “New Attraction: Galaxy swimming world [to be] built on the Ganter site in Freiburg”, suggested that a new swimming complex would be built on the site of the Ganter brewery – which looks like a fairly historic sort of a building. Perhaps not quite to the calibre of The Guardian’s 1977 supplement on the isle of Sans Seriffe: a new discovery and must see travel destination! – which looked like a semicolon.
Now, because today was April Fool’s Day it means yesterday was my birthday. As this is my own personal blog with an extremely exclusive (think: limited) readership, I can go ahead self-centred-like and mention it.
So, it was my birthday – the word got out here and I spent the day shaking hands and accepting good wishes, auf Deutsch. Everyone was very nice; a wonderful cake was consumed; and I had a nice day – placebo effect, perhaps?
Although, the soundtrack for the morning was the Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind. Monday is a bummer of a day to have your birthday on – but at least eurythmy was cancelled.
(Thank you, too, to everyone who sent me emails and Skype messages, too, saying “Happy Birthday!!!”)