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Topic: Teachers (07/12/04)
TITLE: F O R E V E R A T E A C H E R
By Phyllis Inniss
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I thought my retirement would give me enough time to start writing, time I never had while in full-time employment. However, preparation of work for these evening classes, together with going to choir practice on other evenings, domestic chores and looking after my granddaughter, took up my time.
Six years after helping out these students, I decided to quit and begin my writing. What a surprise was in store for me. On recommendation from someone, I was asked by the Principal of a nearby private school if I would be prepared to teach English to.students from Venezuela I decided to do it..
During the first week I had to teach these four students at my home, because the school was being used for exam purposes. My Spanish was very limited. What I had learnt in school was almost forgotten. I welcomed them into my home. Three were young industrial engineers, just out of University. The other a secretary, also young, worked for the big Schlumberger Oil Company in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where the three engineers wanted to work.
Teaching at home provided a wonderful opportunity to familiarize the students – Juan, Maria, Anita and Petra (not their real names) with the names of household articles. I used the function words to accompany the names of the objects, e.g. the word ‘tap’ would be followed by the act of ‘turning on’, accompanied by the word ‘water’ and then ‘turning off’ when the water ceases to flow as the tap is turned off. I brought a lot of my drama skills into play as I mimed, gesticulated and acted parts to illustrate things I wanted to convey, much to the amusement of these South Americans. I made my students repeat a lot to improve their skills in the language and to attune their ears to the nuances of the different sounds.
We moved over to the school the following week. I detected a little jealousy on the part of Anita towards Petra, the secretary, who was very pretty and dressed en vogue. Anita was originally from Chile. It was the first time I had met someone from Chile. She was tall, slim, with narrow features. She seemed more determined in her manner than the others and was not happy with Petra’s presence in the group. She resented Juan giving any assistance to her. Petra , incidentally, did not live with them. She left after two months when her holiday visa expired.
I faced the challenge of teaching this group with great fervour. When I returned at the end of July after spending a month in Canada, I found that the students had stopped going to classes in my absence. The Principal said he couldn’t wait for me to get back.. He added that the three engineers didn’t feel the substitute was doing a good job They complained to me about her and she complained to me about them. I was disappointed as I felt that their English might have suffered as a consequence. They, however, had done a computer course in the meantime They were more than happy I was back, especially when they saw that I was seeking their interests while away. I had brought back some more tapes and a modern course in English for Spanish-speaking students
At the end of September it was time for them to leave. It was an enjoyable six months for me and for them The testimonials I wrote for each one really pleased them. They wanted to know if I would teach any friends they recommended. I agreed to do so. Maria stayed on for a couple more months. She brought her two cousins for me to teach. But I was only able to spare three hours per week.
I thanked God for giving me such a beautiful opportunity. I keep getting other students, but now I think I shall seriously consider giving my time to writing, perhaps teach through my writing, and praise God in the process.
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13