Friday, June 1, 2012

Lessons, Idiocy, and Cremes

This week my blog passed 1000 views! Thank you so much everyone for your support and vicarious enjoyment of my couple of months here in Brazil!

I also received an update regarding my placement in Spain. In September I'll be moving to Valladolid, a city with a municipal population of around 300,000. I'll commute to teach in a small town called Mojados. According to Google, that should take anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending where I live in the city. Exciting!

Exibir mapa ampliado
This week was also my first normal week of teaching. Last week, two of my classes were canceled, so it was hard to really find the rhythm of what my life here will be like. So, everyday at about 11, I set out on foot to work. Sometimes I stop at a papelaria (like a print and copy shop) to churn out some worksheets I made the night before. Yes, I'm using all of my own materials to teach this class! That just means I scour the internet for inspiring ideas about how to teach x subject, whether it be games, activities, or just how to explain the difference between no and not, and then I write it all down so I have something resembling a lesson plan.

For instance, this week I taught numbers, color, the simple present tense, and even got started on personal adjectives. As much fun as I have teaching light grammar lessons, learning personal descriptors has proven to be much more popular. Doesn't everyone want to know how to talk about others? Oh, and we can't forget that smash hit lesson when I sang the ABCs. That class was a riot.

Attendance was a bit lacking this week compared to last, and I initially took it personally. It's hard not to be sensitive as a teacher considering all the work and planning you put into lesson preparation everyday. I realized today though that everyone is really stressed out because they're all trying to raise enough money to go on their trip to Europe late this summer. If I had to raise R$ 3,000+ in a few months I'm not sure what I'd do. Point taken. I will now try to make classes even more fun. More games! More singing! More charades!

And, I just found out today that my Saturday classes have been canceled! I was dreading the idea of teaching English for four hours every Saturday morning. I mean who could sit through that? I'm not that interesting! Neither is our language! Despite any reservations, I was going to plan a lesson that would encompass everything I did the week before, having been told that those students who couldn't come during the week would come on Saturday. I went to inquire about exactly how large this group of students would be to Adriana (my elusive but very kind boss). She said that my classes during the week were going very well and to make things easier for me we could just cancel Saturdays.

That means I can travel on weekends now! Or sleep in on Saturdays! Not bad.

Last night I went to the weekly AIESEC intern get together (Quinta dos Trainees) to meet three new interns from NYC. Getting there proved to be a bit difficult as my ride fell through. Everyone told me to "just call a cab!"

Uh, yeah, sure, right, just call a cab. Anyone who has ever learned another language probably has experienced or can imagine the infinite difficulties in talking to someone over the phone in this new language. Challenge accepted.

Remember that part in the first Harry Potter where Ron tries to call Harry at the Dursley's house, and he doesn't know how to use a phone? I was kind of like that...

(rough English translation)

Cab company: Hello good evening, such and such Taxi Service.
Cab company: Do you live in a house or an apartment complex?
Me: UH....WHAT???????
Cab company: Your name?
Me: Lauren
Cab company: WHAT?
Cab Company: Ok, thank you.

It was a success though, and 10 minutes later I found myself chatting away with a very amiable taxi driver who pronounced at the end of our R$11 trip that he was "very happy to have found himself sitting next to an American" that night.

The other trainees seem really nice. I mostly just talked to one of the girls from New York and hung out with Anne. There were tons of people there that were part of our AIESEC "group," and I met a lot of really great people.

I also found out that I can't speak a goddamn sentence in Spanish without finishing it in Portuguese. DOH. Really funny, actually!

I also got to taste late night Portuguese fast food found at small, metal shacks around the city affectionately called "Pit Dogs" (pronounced peachy doggie...!). I think it's hot dog inspired? Anyway, behold the tray of french fries and my maracuj√° creme in all their 3AM glory!

Can't escape the bulldog influence...


  1. Sounds like things are getting into a comfortable routine. So glad you get to relax on Saturday now, and just enjoy the weekend instead of a marathon 4 hour class. I would have loved to hear your taxi order on the phone...I would not be good at that!
    Your mom is coming with me to Tokyo then on to Singapore tomorrow as I am sure she told you. It will be so nice to have her along. We will eat some Suchi in your honor! Love you, Rick

  2. Hi Lauren!
    We will eat some sushi too, in your honor, and sashimi! It has been 23
    years since I was in Japan! And when I left, I was pregnant! Anyway,
    I have list in my head of all the things
    I want to eat there! I better go upstairs and get my Japanese language guide. I don't
    even remember how to count past 4.

    Lauren, your blog is really fun to read
    as well as informative, candid and insightful. Glad you got to your
    dinner without too much of a scramble with the taxi cab. Now that the first time
    is over, I hope that mode of transportation will become a good back-up for you.
    Wish I could be there to witness your teaching, I have a feeling it is a wonderful atmosphere for your students!
    All my love,

  3. Good work getting weekends off…it makes so much sense. Now you’ll be able to have fun and be included on weekend excursions and...plan ahead! You are putting your heart into your lessons and because of that it sounds like your students are enjoying you and your class. Although, I am sure that if you could sing an entire lesson they would forget their stress and be entranced for hours. Keep up the good work. Love, Bec