New Home, New Friends, and A Lot Of Work
02/07/2010 - 02/13/2010 90 °F
I called my home stay family Saturday night to arrange a time for me to come over. I asked for Yorleny but there was a Spanish/English communication break down. I decided I had the wrong number and tried again. Same house. They eventually figured out that I must be the American and we somehow agreed to meet at their house at 11:00 AM the next morning. I didn’t know where the house was and given the difficulty of setting up the meeting time I wasn’t sure how I was going to figure that out. It turned out that one of the guys at the Wide Mouth Frog who was going to take a Spanish emersion class was going to be staying in the same house with me. He knew a good amount of Spanish so he called up and got directions for us. We headed over to the house and met the family.
I have been subjecting this poor family to crappy Spanish (Spanglish?) and dumb looks for almost a week now. I’m getting really good at charades and have picked up a little Spanish. The other guy staying here (another Daniel from California (Southern)) translates for us when we get stuck. The family is really nice. Husband, wife, two kids (high school boy, junior high girl), two cats, and three dogs. We’ve had some serious belly laughs together, mostly because of my crappy Spanish and goofy charades. The food here is crazy good.
The first few days in my new home were pretty stressful but the stress subsided as the week progressed. I got a lot more comfortable with my host family and re-learned how to get my homework done. Speaking of homework ... I have completed 25% of my TEFL certification class. It’s a tough class. Part of what makes the class tough is that I have to pay attention to something for six to seven hours a day. Just when I think I can zone out for a few minutes the instructors lay a participatory or team exercise on us. So much for taking a little mental nap. The toughest thing for me though is having to prepare a lesson with another person in a short amount of time and then present it to the rest of the class. I did this three times last week with mixed results. In one case I had a full brain melt down ... like a hard drive crash. If someone would have asked me my name at that moment I would have passed out. The combination of working with new material with a team mate under pressure is brutal. Just when I think I’ve figured something out, the team mate says something that I have to think about ... now I’ve lost my fragile train of thought, the deadline is looming. I have to write every thought down or I’m screwed. Maybe I’m retarded.
We’ve been spending a lot of time on grammar. Do you know what the past perfect progressive tense is? I sure as hell didn’t. I’m good with grammar for the most part. I can identify a bad sentence. I just don’t know what all the names for stuff are. Heidi, our grammar teacher loves the stuff. She gets “you better snap that Prozac in half next time” excited when it’s time for grammar lessons. She’s a great teacher though. I learned more grammar in a week than I did in high school or junior high or whenever I learned grammar. The teaching methodology that we are learning calls for five or so minutes of teaching a grammar point in a fifty minute lesson. The emphasis of the communicative methodology taught here is not grammar but the teachers need to know it. Makes sense. Do you know what a gerund is? A participle?
There are ten students in my class: six girls, four guys, a Canadian, an Australian, and eight Americans. Everyone is awesome. It’s a great group and we all get along really well. There are a couple of surfers (one looks like a Southern California stereotype), a couple of teachers, a couple of career transitioners, and some recent college grads. I’m going to have three more weeks with these people. The weeks are supposed to get progressively tougher. Everybody so far has been helping eachother out. If that continues then we’re all going to do well. On to week two.