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Thursday, April 16, 2015

There are many experiences which we English as a Foreign Language teachers have, even outside of the classroom. (What, teachers have their own private lives??!!)

One of my colleagues, Naomi, tells about an funny and gratifying experience she had in a waiting room .

Read more articles by Naomi in her  blog Visualizing Ideas:



When an EFL Teacher Sits in a Waiting Room…

Filed under On Education
T'm paying attention! (Naomi's photos)
I’m paying attention!
(Naomi’s photos)
Setting: A standard looking waiting room – a couple of chairs, some magazines and a water cooler.
Participants: One tired EFL teacher, a woman whom I know slightly from the neighborhood and her 20-year-old daughter.
The Dialogue
Me: Hello! How are you?
Woman: Fine! Have you met my daughter?
(Woman turns to daughter and nods in my direction):  She’s an English teacher. (I’m not insulted that the woman doesn’t remember my name, I don’t remember hers either…).
Daughter: Really? Do you teach high-school?
Me: Yes.
Daughter: Do you teach the LITERATURE? All that “bridgingshmiding stuff? (she is referring to the “bridging tasks” we have in the Literature Program. Shmiding is her own invented word).
Me: Yes, I teach all levels.
Daughter: You know, that material was really hard. My favorite story was “The Split Cherry Tree” . (turns to her mother) You know, we learned a play and  stories and even poems in English written for native speakers. Really hard words! (turns back to me) But I got a 97!
Mother: (in a complaining voice) “Tell me, how could she get a grade of 97 when she won’t speak in English?”
Me: Your daughter is very talented. (Sigh. Did I mention that I was tired?)
Daughter: Our teacher made us work really hard. We went over everything over and over again. (YAY! She appreciated a teacher!).
Mother: That’s the way it should be (in a satisfied tone).
Daughter: What was the name of the play we learned? I can’t remember. I liked “The Split Cherry Tree“.
Me“All My Sons”?
Daughter: Yes! That’s it! Isn’t it about a doctor who saves someone fighting against their country?
Me: Perhaps  you mean the story “The Enemy“?
Daughter: Oh yes, we learned that one too. What were the poems we learned? I liked “The Split Cherry Tree”.
Mother: They are calling our name. Bye!
Me: (to myself) Phew, now I won’t have to play “guess the poem” with her… There might have been cherry trees in them. Back to my own book!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Education from Two Very Separate Angles

Education: I began teaching academic English in a   college about half an hour away from my home in March, 2013 --the program in which I teach is actually a feeder program to a larger university a bit further away.
My classes include  Jewish, Bedouin and other Arab Israelis from all over middle and southern Israel. 

What a difference from K-12 English teaching!  My college classes have highly motivated students who really truly want to pass and are willing to work. When they miss classes, it is generally not for frivolous reasons but real-life ones: a child is hospitalized, their own wedding and similar.

  For some, this is the preliminary stage before university  and they will go on to successful careers in many areas--education, life sciences, engineering, economics and many other fields.

For others, their studying in higher education represents a first for their particular families. And there are still others for whom higher education is a ticket to freedom--both personal and professional.

On one hand, I can see whose previous educational background in English was weak, middling or strong according to their results on exams and projects. On the other hand, I have a chance to 'equalize' the playing field , to a certain extent, in my classes.

Doctorate: I am now (summer 2014) taking the 12th course, my last, in my curriculum. Next are Comprehensive exams and thesis writing on the subject of  Staff Cohesion when working with Special Needs Populations. I had expected to take this required course and just finish, however the course is much more demanding than I had anticipated as my field is not History!I am learning a lot about a subject and time period that I had only cursorily known before.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Well, here I am, back home after 2 1/2 weeks in the United States--seeing old collge friends, taking a class in Philadelphia and spending almost a week with my parents.

I have entered a blogging contest about personal branding and would like to pass on the link to my entry.
Basically, this blog post says what it has taken me several blog posts to write in THIS blog!

Personal Branding Renegade: Why I Resist Labels

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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Matric Results and Satisfaction

Well, I am feeling good right now (uh-oh, stative verb?!)

One of my most learning disabled and challenged students just called me to tell me his grades on Parts 2 and 3 of his Three Point English Matriculation (he had done Part 1 in January 2013 and had done well). But,  Part 2 included a writing assignment and Part 3 was considerably harder than the first two with only ten questions, meaning that each one was worth a whopping ten points. (Each mistake was a deduction of ten points.....) He was nervous, as was I, on May 13, the day of the English Matric test. He had done   very well on his Oral Matric in late March 2013, though, which is not surprising because his main mode of learning is auditory.

This is a young man who I began tutoring three years ago, when he was 14, the summer before his ninth grade year. At the time, he knew very little English, basically letters and sound words. He was so learning disabled that his parents had  pushed the native language subjects first and foremost--and in Summer 2010 it was time to start  working on  English (EFL) . He said at the time that for him, it was really starting from the very beginning of English learning, as he hadn't understood English classes previously. (I might add that he has a sister, three years older than he, who was a top student in high school,  who graduated at the top of her class. Frustrating for him.)

 I accompanied him through his ninth, tenth and eleventh grade years, working on school work as well as on the basics of the English language (tenses/parts of speech etc.), all in coordination with his teachers during the appropriate school year. (It was also helpful that I had taught at that particular six-year school in the past, both in the junior high and in the high school. I knew the school's requirements and I had good communication with his teachers already.) He was allowed the use of an electronic dictionary and received 25% extra time per test, listened to texts on a Discman and answered by himself.

This young man just told me that he felt it 'all come together' this past school year. Suddenly, English sentences made sense to him and weren't word jumbles that he couldn't understand. He was very  lucky to have been taught at school by some of the best English teachers in the area , with lots of experience teaching his kind of L.D. and his English level.

Besides being very glad for the family and for him, I  am very gratified that the hours of hard work paid off handsomely in the end!

Oh, did I forget to most important thing?!

He passed Part 2 with  a good grade, and Part 3 with an even better one!
That , combined with his excellent grades on the Oral Matric and on Part 1, have enabled him to pass
Three Point English Matric with flying colors!

Now that's satisfaction........

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Just saw this on Facebook, posted by one of my EFL (English as a Foreign Language) colleagues
(thank you, Sara). Had to share this.

It says what I spend hours and hours trying explain to  my students , (mostly L.D.) high school kids
but not only.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sounds, Colors, Mixed Senses and the Background of this Blog

Every glasses-wearer knows that one hears better WITH than without the glasses. Funny, no? Glasses are worn for better vision, and ears transmit sound, right? Well, not exactly.   (I have worn glasses since about age 7, which is about the age that I started studying piano, then violin.) 

Actually, much of hearing is lip-reading. And when the source of the sound can't be seen by the listener, one needs to figure out another way of decoding. An example of  using multiple senses......

I have what is called synesthesia, from the ancient Greek σύν (syn), "together," and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), "sensation," is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. (Wikipedia)

Another combination that I have always had (or think so at least) is color synesthesia, or chromesthesia. For as long as I can remember, the tones of the C major scale have been primary colors to me (C is royal blue)  while the flats are represented by mixed colors (E-flat will forever be chartreuse for me.) Sharps are represented by strong combined colors, such as magenta, purple etc.

Is is hereditary? Hard to tell. My parents sang the Ode to Joy of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony  in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus when my mom was pregnant with me;  I LOVE and play classical music. But I  had epileptic-like seizures when I was 11 years old, and these are known to play havoc with neural activity too.

Synesthesia is not listed as a medical condition by DSM classification because it doesn't interfere with daily functioning. In my case, it enhances it. In fact, the reason I chose this background for the the blog is that it really combines the name of the blog (Margie's Melodies) with changing colors.

Here is a piece of music  presented visually (this is what I mean). This is how I have always thought about music. (I think Beethoven was a synesthete too.)


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Satisfaction: Musings of a Veteran Education Professional

Interestingly,  having stayed in the education field when all sorts of (more lucrative) professions presented themselves at different junctures has its own rewards. (After I was in a serious car accident in 1993, following the  long recovery period, I had planned to do a career turnaround--not exactly a change because I would have been still working with the English language--and become a technical writer for large companies. Well, I am still teaching with a heavy emphasis on guidance counseling......my original field.)

I have taught at several schools in my area, some belonging to the Ministry of Education and some belonging to other (private) organizations. In any case, they are all in the same main geographical area, even though their foci are different: some of the junior high and high schools are for achievement oriented academic types who will do many matriculation exams and most will succeed on  them , some are for high-intelligence low achievers with tough home lives whose very presence in school is  an achievement, some are rural schools with large catchment population areas who need to accept every student in their municipal region, special needs or not. And at elementary school level, I teach English to English Speakers in a non-English speaking country--kids who speak English at home with their parents and/or have returned from several years in an English-speaking country, often for one of their parents' jobs.

And very so often, I meet a former student and /or one of my kids' friends--there is overlap there--and I must say that I am flattered when they remember my name and tell me something I said  that still resonates with them, even four or five years after I said it when they were teenagers. For instance, from the borderline matriculation class at the high-intelligence, low achievers' high school: some of these kids are baggers and cashiers at the local supermarket to earn some pin money,  meaning that I see them often.  They are continuing their education and doing things with their lives when they didn't think they would graduate high school. I must admit that I pushed them to stick with school and not give up when they were in tenth grade, and I love it when they tell me what they are doing now.