On Monday evenings, I'm helping teach English! I have one student, Ana, and she's from El Salvador, lives here with her husband and kids, and works as a night janitor at Google. It's a program done by the Building Skills Partnership group, working with the janitors union and the Goog.
A bunch of the non-English-speaking janitors get a little bit of paid time to study English, one evening with a tutor (eg, me), and another one in a classroom setting. The BSP people seem really rad; I like the coordinator, she's Colombiana and bilingual and chill. They make it clear that what we're doing is very learner-driven: the point is for the students to learn the English that they want to learn, so they can feel comfortable doing it and make progress. (many of them haven't had much formal education, and are variably literate...)
So my first one-on-one meeting with Ana was earlier this evening. We talked (mostly in Spanish) about learning English and how it's hard, but we'll do it anyway. She's super motivated, but a bit afraid. We're working on writing a bit too. Interesting moments from today included her honing in on the weird Germanic features in English: think/thought, fireman/firemen, and all the bizarre sounds like "th" and "w" at the front of "want". (she tends to approximate an initial 'w' with a 'g' ...) Also, learning new phonemes seems really difficult -- hearing differences in vowels where Spanish doesn't have one of them seems hard. And makes me want to try learning a tonal language.
Any thoughts on language learning for a mature adult? I just ordered The Cat in the Hat, and suggested that she try listening to the radio in English to get a better sense of the sounds...
|comments: Leave a comment|