A cheesy joke, why you're a better writer than you realise and 'God says hi': here are this week's Café Moments
Every day teaching English brings a new set of learning points and fun moments. Teaching English is as much as journey for me as a teacher as it is for you as a student and I'm grateful to take the journey together. Here are some recent fun and inspiring moments from the Café.
1. Jokes: I've been suffering with hayfever this summer and the skin around my eyes became really dry and sore. I was telling my student in France about how I started swimming in the sea and how it is healing my skin in ways that no creams or medicine could. He said 'Eve, you are enjoying the healing powers of the phrarma-sea'. It's a little cheesy joke but it shows creativity and playfulness with the language. We laughed loudly and together.
2. Writing: My student from Italy, who is living in Ireland is excellent at speaking English, very native and natural. But she was struggling with her writing and wanted some help to prepare for IELTS. I read her writing samples and I knew immediately that she was using dictionaries and translators and putting a lot of pressure on herself to use high level vocabulary and grammar. It was difficult to read, difficult to understand, and it didn't make sense in the same way as her beautiful speaking. I encouraged her to put the translators away, to think carefully about what she wanted to write and then to write it honestly from her own head. I told her to trust her ability. She was reluctant to put away the supports of the translators and every lesson as I read her writing, I knew she was still using them. Her writing was unnatural and I could sense the struggle when I read it. Then, after 5 lessons, she sent me a piece of writing on the topic of virtual lessons. As soon as I read the first sentence, I knew there was magic there: I was reading her work, her thoughts, her honest ability and it flowed easily. It sounded great. She said 'Eve, I just sat down, trusted myself and began to write from my head, it was easy. I didn't even use the dictionary'.
The lesson here is to believe in your ability and keep it simple. Of course it's ok to use translators when you need to look up a word but don't start depending on them. You will be able to write more complex stories as your ability grows, but build it step by step. Work hard and believe in yourself.
3. Culture and Languages: I was talking with my student from Turkey about greetings in various languages. I told her that in Irish 'hello' is 'Dia Duit', which literally translates to 'God be with you'. The response to this is 'Dia 'sMuire Duit' which means 'God and Mary be with you'. Irish is a very spiritual language. She told me that in Arabic 'hello' is 'selamunaleykum' which can be translated to 'God says hi', which I think is so beautiful. And even better, the response is 'aleykumselam', which can be interpreted as 'Say hi back to God for me'. In Hindi, hello is 'Namaste' which means 'I see the divine in you'. What a cool thing to say to everyone you meet every day. There are similarities in these languages and it's interesting to make these connections. It is a privilege to connect with students around the world everyday and share language and culture.
Thanks for reading. More Café moments next week