Sunday, February 4, 2007

Back to School

Okay, so today I finally went to the school. The teachers seem really nice and appear to know what they're doing. They both seem friendly and helpful. Khaled teaches techniques for teaching, and also has the sorry task of dealing with all of the problems present in our apartments -- things like dangling wires, no hot water, bedroom doors that lock people inside their own rooms, missing keys, and so on. Ingie, the teacher of grammar and phonology researches linguistics at a University and speaks English with only the faintest trace of an accent. When pressed, she admitted apart from her native Arabic she also speaks German, French and is currently learning Hebrew. I strongly suspect she can probably get by in a few more languages as well.

Learning to teach English is easy!

So far, Khaled's class has been very fun, involving a lot of theater, roleplaying, and class participation. Here is a play we did, reproduced for your enjoyment, completely unabridged:

Maid enters, dusting
Mr. Brown: (enters) I feel faint. (faints)
Maid: (screams)
Mrs. Brown: (entering) What's the matter? (sees Mr. Brown) Call the doctor!
Maid: Doctor, come quick!
Doctor: (enters) I'm sorry, he's dead.

The End

We broke up into three groups and were told to present the plays in various ways: one group alternated acting it emotionlessly followed by a manic delivery. Another group alternated speaking like a robot and saying "dude" and "like" all the time. Our group had what I feel was the most inventive pairing: old time radio-style performance (with all of us sitting in seats with hands to our ears) and silent movie style, in which all the dialogue was written on pieces of paper and held up by one of the actors instead of being spoken.

Khaled explained that the limited nature of a play like this offers the advantage of controlling what he terms the "target language" for the students -- for beginning students, it's much easier if they have a very clear set of their language.

Learning to teach English is hard!

The second half of the day is grammar and phonology, and there's a lot more focus on how language works and so it requires a little bit more work. Today we learned the phonetic alphabet for English and the main word classes. Essentiall we're going to be getting a crash course in English grammar and phonology and in 2 weeks we're going to have to answer a grammar and phonology test. This is a lot less entertaining than pretending you're in a 1920s flick. But I find both classes equally interesting.

So far, I'm really glad that I'm taking the course. Speaking of which, I have to get going on my homework. Enjoy all.


العربية: صبحاً دهبت الى مدرسة. عندي إثنان مدرّسان. مساعاً درست
This morning I went school. I have two teachers. This evening I studied.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Hi Jordan,
The maid, fainting dead man and doctor sound like a complete riot. Can you say a little about your classmates? Where are they from? And, can you tell us a little bit about the trip from Cairo to Alexandria. What does it look like where you are? City? Port? what?