What is it like?


InterestEng. screenshot: students in Nepal


OCCASIONALLY we get letters from readers asking what it’s like to teach English when you don’t speak a student’s language.  Answer: You laugh a lot. Then you try again. You hold things up to the computer camera, point to them, and give them names. You point to yourself and then to the object and give the object an owner. You use the object and discover a verb together. It is, in fact, amazing how quickly you can communicate when there’s an eagerness to do so. In any case, occasionally we will share stories from our tutors on their experiences. Here are two stories about a wonderful word game we found in the Russian novel, A Gentleman in Moscow.  [See: 195 books.]  We call the game, “Enough!” 

THE game goes like this:  a creative theme is decided upon and teacher and student take turns thinking of things regarding the theme until someone can’t think of anything. This is a great game and can be very funny. For example, the theme of a recent game with a boy in Afghanistan was “things that are heavy”.  The answers included: the earth, mountains, trucks, airplanes, fat sheep. . . .     
     So come join us for two games.  Game one is with Polina from Russia and game two is with Asia from Afghanistan.  Polina is already an expert and so the tutor thought she could stump her by choosing the theme, “things of five”.  Let’s see what happened:




InterestEng. screen shot

Tutor:  Five fingers.
Polina:  Five toes.
Tutor:  Five points on a star.
Polina:  Five black keys in an octave.
Tutor:  Five stars make up Cassiopeia.
Polina:  Five vowels—a, e, i, o, u.
Tutor:  Five week days.
Polina:  Five letters in the word SKYPE.
Tutor:  Five letters in the word EIGHT.
Polina:  Five senses.
Pause . . . .
Tutor:  I can’t think of anymore!
Polina: Five petals on a flower, 5 drawers in a dresser, 5 . . .
Tutor:  Enough!  You win!  

     Now come along to the game with Asia. It had been a tough day for her.  When the tutor heard that, she scrapped the lesson she had planned and turned to Asia’s favorite game. The theme was, “things that are beautiful”.  (By the end of the lesson both Asia and her tutor were feeling great.)  What would you add to this list? 


Colorful Afghan dresses


Asia’s Skype photo

Tutor:  The stars at night are beautiful.
Asia:  The moon is beautiful.
Tutor:  Big, white clouds are beautiful.
Asia:  Afghan girls in colorful dresses are beautiful.
Tutor:  A rainbow is very beautiful.
Asia:  Yes!  I love rainbows.  Snow is beautiful.
Tutor:  One small flower can be very beautiful.
Asia:  A smile is very beautiful, especially children’s smiles.
Tutor:  A lullaby is beautiful. Did your mother sing to you when you were little?

Asia:  Yes, and she told us beautiful stories.
Tutor:  Mothers are beautiful.
Asia:  Honesty makes us beautiful.
Tutor:  WOW! What an answer!  Kindness is beautiful.
Asia:  Love to God is beautiful.
Tutor:  Oh, Asia!  That is the most beautiful answer of all.
Asia:  My red dress is beautiful.
Tutor:  Did someone make it for you?
Asia:  My older sister gave it to me. It is very special.
Tutor:  Giving is beautiful.
Asia:  Getting is more beautiful.  I love to get something.
Tutor:  What is the most special gift you have ever been given?
Asia:  All my sisters bought me a necklace.
Tutor:  Can you take a photo sometime and send it to me so I can see it?
Asia:  Of course I will!
Tutor:  Thank you so much.
Asia:  “Thank you” is beautiful.
Tutor:  Language is beautiful.

Asia:  Hearing is beautiful.
Tutor:  A bird’s song is beautiful.

Asia:  Skype is beautiful.  It connects us.
Tutor:  Understanding each other is beautiful.
Asia:  Being together with my family is very beautiful.
Tutor:  I’m so happy for you that you have a beautiful family.

Asia:  Helping each other is beautiful.
Winner: everyone.

 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com