Turkey Neck

21:24 Thursday 5th July 2018

Why should darkness make me miserable? Why should a bright glowing computer screen cheer me right up? More to the point, why should dark <i>Turkish</i> night skies make me more homesick than I've ever felt, while bright Turkish sun makes me relaxed and carefree, whereas British light and dark has no such effect? Even <i>more</i> to the point, why should this start now? Assuming it's not all psychosomatic?

I don't know either. And maybe I'm just stuggling to find patterns in corellations. For now, I just leave the question open.

Plan for tomorrow's lesson:
* Revise the previous day's lesson - on names for major body parts.
* Optionally extend body part list with "toes", "tongue" etc, from flashcards.
* Extend earlier lesson on basic colours, introducing concepts of "light" and "dark". And possibly "medium".
* Use student's clothes as props, identifying "dark grey jacket", "light green skirt" etc. Clothing words already taught.
* Optionally, use photos of multi-coloured parrots to teach bird body parts, and get students to identify their colours.
* Treat (bribe) students with another Mr Bean video.

As for the day after...no idea. But a similar pattern.

Apparently I'm a good teacher. Which is to say, students say I'm a good teacher. Which is to say, students like me - which is not the same thing at all. So I've really got no idea whether I'm much good at all.

But seeing as I've met some seriously <i>bad</i> teachers - who are of course the one's who think they're brilliant - I reckon I'm pretty good at <i>not</i> doing what they do in the classroom. Which is mainly to assume that whatever they think they've taught, students have perfectly learned. Without checking.

I have never yet encountered an exam which measured anything more than how good a particular student is at that particular exam on that particular day. I've had students who'd been getting high marks for five years, who hadn't mastered personal pronouns. I've had students placed in my Lower Intermediate class, who actually had advanced conversational skills - they just hadn't memorised the theory. Such students are always useful, as they can explain things to the rest of the class in their own language.

Today, a girl student asked me what the English word is for "Shaanta". It's the large flexible container that contains your hold luggage on an air flight. It's the place you pack either bulky items, or things you won't need till you've landed and unpacked. It's probably got wheels and an extendable handle for dragging it along the ground. There's also a rigid plastic version that tends to be a horrible colour.

And I've no idea what it's called.

"Luggage Case"? "Hold Compartment Container"? "Non-Hand-Luggage Bag"? "The big one you don't carry with you on the plane"? I settled on "Case" for simplicity, but I would have failed that question in an exam.

The notion of "general fluency" breaks down when you look at it. I'm just fluent in most - but not all - of the kinds of english that are needed in the situations where I find myself.

Put me in charge of repairing a nuclear reactor, and I'm no longer a fluent user of English. Ask me to name every electrical item I brought with me from England, and I'm struggling. "0.25 meter black insulated thin audio cable with 2.5 millimeter male jack plug at one end and female equivalent at the other, designed for short extension but purchased for protection of frequently plugged and unplugged jack sockets"? It's just "where I plug my headphones into".


  1. I have would've said suitcase...even if there were no suits in the large luggage bag...