School on the Run - Revisited

Anne Kimball

Bringing Borya Home

I wrote this post just about three years ago, when James and Julie were fresh off the boat... er...plane:

Seemed like a simple plan when I made it. Clear the morning calendar. Make a nice space in the dining room for ESL (English as a Second Language) lessons. Every morning, get the other kids on the bus, then sit down with James and Julie and proceed to teach them English. Follow each well-taught lesson with a trip to the barn together for chores, and then a stroll down our country lane, pointing out the English words for familiar items such as fence, tree, goose. Throw a few bluebirds twittering around our heads and you get the picture.

Yeah. Well. That's happened all of like, twice. More commonly, we're picking one of the kids up from school to run them to the doctor or orthodontist, going to the grocery store for the third time in a week, schlepping out to the social security office for more paperwork, or any one of the myriad of things that keep popping up to fill these new gaps in my calendar.

So usually we have school on the run, as we listen to ESL CDs in the car or I point out things while we're driving around, like truck, bus, train, etc. Skojit "hobo". One drawback to this method is that I'm about to lose my friggin' mind. If I have to listen to this Bryan Adams wannabe and his cheesy accompanying musicians sing "What's Your Name" or "Supermarket Sally" one more time I am going to leap out the window and start playing in traffic. But the kids love it. "Mom, Mom, What's Your Name. Please? What's Your Name." OK. One more time ....

Another occupational hazard to being in the position of ESL teacher is that I've come to resemble a silent movie actor in my manner of speech. As I point out a new word to them, I am striving with every nuance of my facial expressions and body language to convey its meaning. Imagine, if you will, my melodrama as I teach by charade the words happy, or angry. While it seems helpful during the lessons, it's gotten to be a hard thing to switch on and off. I might say to someone, "I like your shirt (sweeping my arm up and down across my torso to indicate shirt). It's pretty (with a stupid happy face on). It's red (might gesture to several red things at this point)". They just look at me and I know what they're wondering. Where's her 'special helmet'?




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