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Yesterday was my first meeting with my new ESL student, "Jesse". I was surprisingly anxious about our meeting, mainly because I like to be well-prepared for things like this and there was very little I could think to do in the way of preparation. Having never met one-on-one with a student before, having only received her learner profile a few days in advance, not having had a chance to review any level-appropriate teaching materials, and having no experience formulating language-oriented lesson plans really had me wondering what we were going to do for an hour. That, and I was wondering how much Spanish I would need to employ, because I sure don't know enough to make small talk for 3 hours.

So, I packed my bag full of pens and tablets and workbooks and picturebooks and a paper-filled binder and my trusty Oxford Spanish dictionary and a couple of bottles of water (so that if we wound up staring at the walls, at least we wouldn't get thirsty), and whaddyaknow? My student turned out to be fluent in English.

Well, fluent enough, anyway. We had a conversation that spanned contrasting Los Angeles with the Triad, the requirements for earning her GED and the progress she's making, her certification as a CNA in California, her apprehension about her son starting his senior year in high school and her desire to work on her resume and find a job locally.

After our chat (about 45 minutes), the program coordinator (who speaks impressive Spanish) and I went downstairs to make copies, at which point she exclaimed, "I can't believe it! In all the times I've talked with Jesse [in Spanish], she's never told me half of what she told you today! I had no idea she was a CNA or that she went to school in California or that she was almost finished with her GED. We might need to reassess her level." (That's an understatement.)

In the meantime, I am very happy to have something to work with: I've already located a bunch of materials/exercises on modals (can, could, should, may, might, etc.)--one thing she mentioned wanting to work on. That should keep us going for several weeks. Also, I'm putting together a folder of sample resumes for her; she was very intimidated by the prospect of having to attend job interviews. I think we'll go over the general format this week and get her started thinking about what she can include on her own resume.

Best of all, this gives me a great excuse to put together more binders! I love making binders. Yes, I know that makes me a freak. Thanks.


In other news, last night was our first "band rehearsal". More on that later.



The Inimitable Miss M

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October 2009


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