As you may have noticed, I did not post last week. I was traveling on the North American continent. I spent a total of 60 hours in Canada. In hindsight we wondered what that was all about, but still, I had a lot of fun visiting the husband’s family and friends.
After Canada, I went on to the US; to Houston to be exact. I had never been to Houston before and from what I have seen, there is really no reason to go back there. Houston consists mainly of highways and a lot of people trying to go somewhere. Everybody told me Houston is a car city. The distances are so large that you cannot walk them. Well they are right: crossing the Wal-Mart parking lot (situated across the street from the hotel) to buy some baked beans took about 10 minutes…
Being from Amsterdam, this is not the kind of city I would visit for fun. Apparently there are parks and some really cool places, but I just saw a lot of McDonalds, Denny’s, Subways, other fast food places I had never heard of, Wal-Marts, Targets, Best Buys and highways. What I did not see was a Starbucks, and since I was really looking forward to having one on every corner of every street, I was a little disappointed. Especially since the other coffee places seemed to think that coffee should taste like dishwater. Fortunately there was a Vietnamese restaurant at walking distance and that is where we used most of our meals.
What I did like about the Texans was their courtesy. They hold doors open for you, they let you go first in line of a cash register, they scold at their kids for trying to jump the queue, etc. It apparently is a Southern tradition that they work hard at to keep. And honestly, it feels very nice and I am sorry the tradition died in other countries.
Anyway, the Houston visit was not for fun, I went to do a course on TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) and it was taught by the master himself: Blaine Ray. The point of the course was for me to learn how to teach other people a foreign language, without having to bother too much about grammar.
For me working in Mexico is a little difficult, since I don’t speak the language good enough to understand what people might want. The only thing that I do have and what the Mexicans might want, is that I speak reasonably good English. So I figured if I could teach that, I can keep myself occupied while the hubby is working long hours in offices far away.
Back to the course: the other participants were all teachers, some with years and years of teaching experience, others with no experience at all. The workshop lasted three days and during these days we picked up some German, French, Spanish and I even taught a Dutch class. I was amazed to see how quickly you can get people to speak and write their first sentences in a foreign language, and really you wonder why not all schools teach languages that way. If I think about all the hours I wasted learning the German prepositions that are followed by a specific case, I wonder why I only remember three of them. If we had just spent that time talking, I probably would have remembered more German than I do now.
Teaching through this method is utterly cool! It is a lot of fun, since you use actors to act out the story and the whole class is involved in answering questions and helping you to make up the story. Of course for beginners the stories are extremely simple and most of them are a little weird, but that is exactly what makes it fun to learn and teach.
I am ready to practice, all I now need is students…