Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Martian Postcards

Tonight local poet and reader in residence Jen Hadfield visited my intermediate class. We looked at riddle like poems, such as A Martian Sends a Postcard Home by Craig Raine.
It was fascinating to watch the reactions of the learners in reading these poems and grapple with vocabulary several notches above what they would come across in their course book. It was also refreshing to watch them work with someone whose personality is so different from my own: a person less afraid of silences than I am.  At times, Jen would ask a question, and, just as I was beginning to find the wait excruciating a learner would pipe up with a considered response.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to ask the learners to work on their own riddle poems: this can wait till next week! And I am still keen to run a poetry translation workshop. As they say: watch this space…

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Today saw another one of my forays into investigative journalism/trying to make some cash in the two hours when my youngest is at nursery.

I had decided to interview the Hungarian proprietors of the newly opened langos takeaway  with the hope of generating a little publicity for their business. I was all prepared with Dictaphone on the table in between myself and my interviewee, Robert. Sadly, however, the door of the shop opened and a very noisy langos customer talked loudly in Hungarian for the duration of the interview.

When I got home Robert's softly spoken musings were drowned out by the sound of frying langos, the rattling of plates and the bellowing of the langos customer.  Ah, well.

In tonight's lesson we looked at the difference between will and going to . Despite having taught an assessed lesson on this very subject on my DELTA course a mere year ago, I feel I have failed to crack this very subtle difference in the minds of my learners.  Especially when the class consists of two Thai learners (the Thai language has no equivalent to the way English expresses the future) and two Polish learners (who have a future auxiliary verb, but struggle to distinguish between will and going to.)  The course book only muddy matters further by providing decontextualised snippets of dialogue. I will have to mull this over before next week...

In the meantime...preparations are underway for International Night at the library on Friday, and we are gearing up for our poetry translation workshop, led by Jen Hadfield, tomorrow. It's set to be a fun week...