Friday, June 26, 2009


(In which I’m running out of ways to let my students know that my patience isn’t unlimited.)

When the new program was introduced to us, I told myself that this would be tough. But the trainers assured us that the parents understand what it is that they’re placing their child into. They told us that they will be given a complete set of books plus cassette tapes so they can study the lesson at home and that we are only there to teach them basic info about the lesson. The activities are done at home.

It’s like saying “Don’t worry teachers. The students in this program are carefully selected to make sure that they will be responsible and that they will develop good study habits since the parents monitor their progress with you. And since this program requires constant attention and monitoring, the students are more likely to be less of a nuisance.” Cool, isn’t it?

That’s training period. Wait till I tell you what happens on the phone.

I have these sisters who enrolled for the new program. They are beginners. The older is using storybooks and the younger, phonics books. The book was fine. Four pages for ten minutes. The problem is I believe they don’t understand how long ten minutes are when they don’t talk.

With the older sister:

Me: How many aliens did she see?
Student: Mmmm
Me: How many aliens did she see?
Student: How many?
Me: Yes. How many aliens did she see?
Student: ……………..
Me: Hello?
Student: Hello.
How… many… aliens… did… she… see?
Student: Mmmm…
Me: One? Four? Five? Seven? (Growing impatient)
Student: Four.
Me: Okay. Can you answer in complete sentences? She saw four aliens.
Student: She saw… (sigh) fo… eylns...

With the younger sister:

Me: What is that picture?
Student: ….
Me: That is a…?
Student: Hello. (Trying to be cute.)
Me: Yes. What is that picture?
Student: ….
Me: What… is… that… picture?
Student: Mmm.
Me: It’s a wheel, right?
Student: Yes.

I have nothing against them being beginners. But, damn, we’ve been together for four months and the questions are so freaking easy. How many more forms do I have to fill out to remind them of their responsibility? And they are supposed to be listening to tapes and answering workbooks with their parents, aren’t they? What’s worse, during the time that they don’t answer, you’ll hear keyboard sounds and some tones on the background. You can actually imagine them hitting the space bar continuously with their face twitching as they try their best to get pass the current level. And when they do, you’ll hear a very cute tone and a “Congratulations” message pops on the screen and their face brightens up. But since their annoying teacher is on the other line asking them questions they didn’t really listen to, they'll say “Hello?” when you say "Hello?" And when their annoying teacher sounds annoyed on the phone, they’ll sound as if they are being maltreated by the annoying teacher who is being annoyingly mean to them.