May 16, 2012

Less than 4 days!

I’d be lying if I said that I was calm about this competition.  Unless something interesting happens, then at the very least, I will finish in the top 10 of the contenders for English Blogger.

Yet, I have something else that I seem to want to chat about.

One of my students, is promising to be a very good writer.  One of my tasks as English teacher, is not just to talk and teach grammar to my students.  One of the more favourite tasks I do, is teaching students to write.  Learning a language is more than just talking.  Yes, we need to learn the grammar.  Yes, we need to learn how to spell.  Yes, we need to learn vocabulary.  These three items are great and necessary if one intends to travel.  Not too many people are willing to wait until you write a note, correcting your own spelling or grammar, when you’re asking directions.  Most people would probably just give up, and either ignore you or walk away.  Unfortunately, that just the way people are – generally!

However, writing is the more formal aspects of any language.  Writing challenges all that you’ve learned – vocabulary, grammar, spelling.  It also challenges your imagination.  Because writing takes a little bit longer to express (as opposed to speaking), you have the opportunity to think more about what you want to say.  Take this blog, as an example.  Some of my readers think that it only takes me a few minutes to write an entry.  What you don’t realize is that some days, it can take an hour or two.

Anyway, I teach several classes how to write.  The students use books which gives them vocabulary words, in some instances, sample sentences, example stories, and ultimately, a topic which the students need to write about.  At times, these topics have been altered to accommodate life in Taiwan.  For example, there is no sense in students writing a story about making a snowman, when it doesn’t snow in Taiwan.  So it gets changed to cycling or hiking.

One student, and I don’t want to spill the beans for now, has been a ray of sunshine in the forest of students.  Where most students write basic stories, and always close with, “It was a fun day,”, this kid usually has twist endings to his stories.  They are on topic, but very different from his classmates and others in other classes.

I spoke to his mother (who speaks English) about his writing skills.  I’ve shown her his writings, and have suggested that he continues with his writing.  I’ve also asked her to keep him motivated to write.  She has also assured me, that the writing he does, comes from himself – no help from anyone!  That blows me away even more.

After story number 4, and still enjoying reading his stories, I suggested that I would like to give him an outlet for his writing.  Speaking with his mom, I suggested that, perhaps once a month, I would place one of his stories into my blog.  I will of course, edit the story for errors (grammar, spelling), but leave the content as is.  No minimum or maximum number of words and no specific topic. Just get him to write from his gut!

I confronted him about it, and he seemed a bit hesitant.  Understandable.  However, I think it was more because he didn’t understand fully, what I was suggesting.  He talked to his mother.  While they were chatting in away in Chinese, I could see the nervous, yet excited smile, come across his face.  Obviously, mom was telling him how much I enjoyed reading his works.  She also assured him that the topic and amount of writing was fully up to him.  The only thing I wanted of him, was to get at least one writing each month.

He’s agreed!  Yeah!

Now, I want to share one story with you.  Please keep in mind, this boy is about 10 or 11 years old.  English is his second language.  Also, please don’t take offense to the topic, as this was free writing – no topic.

A girl wanted to go to the bathroom, but she didn’t know how. She took off her skirt and peed. The people living on the ground had pee on their clothes. The girl felt sad and said sorry to everyone. The people wanted her to clean their clothes. The girl didn’t want to, so the people wanted to kill the girl. Suddenly, the girl woke up.

The only ‘editing’ was correcting the grammar and spelling.  The rest is from his head.  The only thing left now, is to wait for his next chapter!

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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