Sunday, February 1, 2009


along time ago, i mentioned that i have some, um, complicated students. what i tutor is varied - and how i do it is confusing. i teach kids english as a foreign language - that's what my "school" is, an afterschool language program for kids who do not speak english. it's cheap, in a classroom and done with a bunch of other kids. i teach adults english, too. in my house. and really, it depends on the person what they're getting. some speak english but need practice, others don't speak anything but have american husbands or are planning to travel. they usually pay by the hour - not a huge amount, but enough to make it well worth my while.

and then. well, then i have my bilinguals. kids that study in english speaking schools who are below the board and need help. in everything. not just language. those complicated students? well, they're the ones who are speaking one language at home, spanish in the street and english at school. and their parents? well, either they're absent or don't speak english or spanish. (and before anyone jumps down my throat again with anonymous comments, i'm WELL aware that it's possible to raise tri and quad and other multi-glottal children. try it yourself first, though, and let me know how it goes before you criticize my ideas - don't just tell me to "look on google and you'll find TONS of resources).

i have two sisters. lovely girls. really. i like them both. a lot. i mean to the point that i rearranged my schedule to give them all the time they needed. partly because their situation is so bizarre and partly because i see potential. i mean - they moved away from their parents in asia (the oldest hasn't been back for three years!), into a house with an aunt they had never met in a country where they don't speak the language to study in english. all for a chance at a better future.

too bad no one told them just how hard it was going to be. the youngest has been here six months and i think she might, maybe understand samil when he starts to spout off one and two word phrases. beyond that? she's lost. and she's in sixth grade. and the oldest has done ninth grade once, is doing it again this year - all knowing she has to repeat it next year even if she passes all of her classes. and with good reason. she's been struggling to understand even the basics of her classes and her grades reflect it. i mean, she's improved. she's gone from 20s and 30s to 40s and 50s, but...

after christmas break, though, i think she woke up. i've noticed a lot more drive - and a lot more understanding. and it's been confirmed. i've never been more proud in my life to get an email from a teacher.

her bio teacher emailed me (well, responded to my email about her progress) to tell me that she scored an 86 on her latest test!!!! an 86! i seriously cried. 9 hours a week since september. nine loooong hours, every week for 40s and 50s. but FINALLY! she's getting it.

and i've been reassured. not all progress happens at the snap of your fingers. sometimes we gotta work hard and wait. but believe me, people, it'


Erin said...

Good for you! Isn't teaching the most rewarding career ever? I love it!

Melissa said...

I have always had the hardest time in math, despite numerous tutors throughout school. I have only had one who turned out to be a great match for me, and let me tell you, the year and a half of "A"s on my report card is still one of my proudest memories of school. Good for you for persevering!