July 12, 2012


Tomorrow is one of the three Friday the 13th days of the 2013 year.  I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow!

In past years, and decades, Friday the 13th has always been a good day for me.  As far back as I can remember, understanding in the English culture, that Friday the 13th is supposed to be a bad luck day, I decided and realized A LONG TIME AGO, that the 13th day of the month, no matter what day of the week it was, the 13th day was always a good day.  I looked forward to it, and made it a day of pleasure, rather than a day of disappointment.

In the western culture, 13 is an unlucky number.  In the eastern culture, 4 is the unlucky number.  Funny.  When you add the digits 1 and 3 from 13 together, you get the number 4.  Hmm…  That means that, no matter where I go in the world, either the number 13 or the number 4 are considered bad luck numbers!  Then again, since I was born on the 13th of a month (and HOW I wish it had been the 4th month, like my paternal grandmother’s birth date), I have to settle with 3/13.

So I’m looking forward to Friday the 13th!

This morning I had a schedule change, and went to Giraffe for a class.  Simon, Janice’s husband, was there.  He was off to see a doctor.  His lower jaw looks rather swollen.  Janice called it something like ‘pig face’, a translation from Chinese.  Funny, but I hope it’s okay.  It actually kind of looks like mumps.  One of the teachers reminded us that Simon had had some work done on his teeth recently, and this may be something resulting from his dental work.  Anyhow, off they went.

Later on though, Janice was not around.  Apparently, whatever is wrong with Simon, he has to go to the hospital.  Sounds a little more serious.  He won’t be out of hospital until Sunday!  Then on Monday, the family is off on vacation.  I hope this doesn’t impede on their vacation time.  Personally, I think he’ll be fine, and back to his chipper self.

I also decided to have a little ‘pep talk’ with a couple of students.  It’s not something I usually do, but over the time they’ve been students, I’ve noticed that their attitude toward the teaching I do, is waning.  Unfortunately, when others see this, then the others figure its okay as well.  In the next couple of years, these students will be writing GEPT (General English Proficiency Test).  Part of the GEPT testing is where the student is given a picture, or a series of pictures, and in an allotted time period, expected to write a story.

My ‘pep talk’ was to try to encourage them to do better.  My assignments for these students, allows them a week to write a story from a picture, however the story must contain between 75-100 words.  One student seems to feel that they are able to tell the whole story in about 20 words!  Once the grammar is fixed up, the spelling mistakes noted, the sad truth is, they have only written about 5 correct words.  This is not going to bode well on their GEPT.

I’m not exactly sure how long each of these students has been learning English at Giraffe.  However, take all these Giraffe classes out of the equation, they have all been learning English since Grade 2.  It is part of their elementary and junior high school curricula.  By this point, having had English classes for at least 5 years in the school system, and at the very least, 2 or 3 years of English classes at Giraffe, writing a 75-word essay should not be a problem, given a week to complete it!

If I put it into a mathematical term, all they need to do is write about 10-15 words per day, or 2 sentences.  In the space of one week, they will have written the required story.  Writing two sentences would take them (and this is REALLY stretching the imagination), no more than 5-10 minutes.

Unfortunately, students in these times, have a lot more distractions at their disposal.  Parents want their kids to have what they didn’t have – computers, Internet, big screen TVs, cell phones, MP3s…  all these devices and services are a huge distraction.  Taking 5 or 10 minutes out of their chat time or computer game playing time, can mean the difference of thousands of points on their game, or a missed message from their friends.

Eventually, at some point, either these kids will be asking their parents to hire a private tutor, or mom and dad will pull the plug on the electronics.  That’s what happened to one student I tutored a few years ago.  His grades were dropping, his English was getting worse, and I was hired!  Mom and dad took away his cell phone, his gameboy, his MP3 player, and had the cable disconnected for the three years I was teaching him.  They moved him from a school where he had lots and lots of friends, and placed him in another high school.

Yes, he was upset, but after the disruption to his life, his marks increased, and his English level was back to an acceptable level required by the school.  All too often, parents are willing to reward their kids with these new electronic devices, for getting good grades.  Only to discover, that once you give a gift to a child, it is difficult to take it back.  As well, the detrimental effect on grades is something that is difficult to reattain.

Oh well.  As I’ve said before, I can only provide the tools.  The student has to learn how to use them.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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1 Comment

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One response to “July 12, 2012

  1. joyce oconnell

    I’ve always considered 13 as lucky.

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