Learners' English

Liberia Travel Blog

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I realized I haven't talked a whole lot about the main reason I'm able to be here: my job. I guess that's because I have had a lot of other exciting adventures to share, but I actually really like my job (most of the time) too. Aside from the fact that I have to put up with the disorganization of the INA, a branch of the Costa Rican government dedicated to education, I enjoy my work. I'm one of the few English teachers in the country that has a work visa, a cell phone (foreigners can't get phone chips here for some odd reason), and a set curriculum to teach from, so I consider myself pretty lucky. I also get to use my Spanish a lot for working with people from the INA, who oversee all of the English classes but don't speak a word of English, which I find rewarding. That's not to say it doesn't have its pitfalls, such as the minimal pay, extra paperwork that I don't get paid to do, and as I mentioned, dealing with the people from the INA.

But one of the things that makes my job so awesome is my students. My youngest is 17 and my oldest is 64. I have taxi drivers, lawyers, high school students, doctors, tour guides, teachers, and bartenders. Many of them live here in Liberia, but others come from all over Guanacaste, up to a three hour bus ride away. Needless to say, it's a pretty interesting mix. Some days, I fear that I learn more from them than they learn from me.

Yesterday, I taught my own two classes and was planning on subbing for Audrey, since her parents are in town and she wanted to take some time off to spend with them. The day before, however, Lindsay came down with the flu and needed me to take her classes too. That makes twelve hours of English classes in one day, starting at 7 am and ending at 10 pm. I could have told Audrey to not take a day off with parents, but I decided I could do it. I would be exhausted by the end of the day, but I like interacting with others and my bank account would especially benefit from the extra hours.

So I did it. It was a review day, since the next class is a quiz, so I got to do some fun activities such as a relative clause runner race and a talk-show skit (Oprah or Jerry Springer-style). And jeeeeeez, English-learners are funny. I already knew this from the five months experience I've had with my own students, but it was fun to realize it again, especially when some of the students are people you know outside of class. One of Audrey's classes, my fifth (out of six) class of the day, included Noemy, my rambunctious hostmom, and two of my best friends here (and one who has been one of my main suitors here... and had roses sent to the classroom during class... yeah... that's another story for another day). I love Noemy, I really do, but I wanted to kill her in class. She's a 60-year-old successful lawyer, who is the class bully. Odd, huh? But although she interrupted me multiple times in class and told me she was going to kick me out of the house when I told her an answer was wrong, she told me what a good job I did and how much she loves my classes when I got home. Needless to say, that meant a lot to me, so I forgave her for her shenanigans. Gracias, mamá.

Also, Lindsay, Audrey and I have all started speaking "Spanish-translated or Learners' English." We often catch ourselves saying "I have hungry" or "I am agree" or "I'm behind the tree" or "Say me" or other direct translations that don't make sense (or "have sense," as they would say) to native English speakers. Oh, well... It just makes conversations funnier.

After my twelve-hour day of speaking "learners' English," I was more than pooped-ísima. But happy. I also have pretty roses sitting above my bed and extra cash in my pocket, so really, a girl can't complain.
Africancrab says:
Wow! you are one lucky person indeed. Thanks for sharing.
Posted on: Mar 19, 2010
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