I teach English as a foreign language and each year I have taken a short intensive course of lessons for some students in the last year of their middle school (Scuola Media), they are all thirteen and fourteen years old. I enjoy it, for the most part, but as in all teaching some students are trying, exhausting, frustrating and generally difficult. Others are enthusiastic, interested, interesting and hardworking. I do reading, singing, game playing with them, anything as long as its in English, albeit not very fluent English! The reason I get to do the work is because I am Madre Lingua, Mother Tongue and the idea is that the pronunciation of the students improves. It’s all about speaking, hardly any written work! For the last lesson of the course I invite the students to bring in an item of their choice that has some meaning for them, some small thing that they can speak about and answer questions on from the other students. It’s meant to bring them all together and try and get some proper conversation going….. not as easy at it sounds! I had two lessons back to back today and some interesting items were brought in during both classes: A Bob Marley CD, Guns and Roses CD, a Ski Pass for the Gran Sasso, an earring, a guide book for Pompeii, a football shirt, a teddy bear…I’m beginning to sound like that TV programme with Bruce Forsyth what was it called?
Anyway, in the second and very last class, all the students brought in with them their items, photos etc, except for two girls who said that their item was too large and could they bring it in at the end. I loved this class, they were a teacher’s dream and so rewarding. So, we did the chat about the football shirt, the cd’s the teddy bear, oh and a splendid piece of Dr Who merchandise, a screwdriver with a laser beam and a secret pen that wrote in invisible ink! Amazing to find this in the middle of Le Marche in Italy! Wow! It had be bought from the UK on Ebay! Eventually I had to ask the last two students to bring in their item. Remember, this had to be something important that meant something to them. There was a great deal of whispering and excitement and I waited to see what they brought in. They entered, looking very pleased with themselves and carrying a chocolate cake decorated with the words, “Thank You” …
One other girl carried a large card which said “to Miss Ninette, thank you for teaching us so many new things” ….all the students’ names were on the back of this card and I was quite overcome! Not enough to stop the lesson though, so the two students still had to speak about their “item” then at the end of the lesson we were all able to sample it! They had brought plates, a knife, spoons, plastic cups and coca cola…what a treat. I can’t remember the last time I drank coke!
I may not see these students ever again. Next year they’ll be in High School and if I do see them I expect I will find it hard to remember their names. I have met so many students during the last four years. Perhaps a few of them will remember me which is gratifying. I hope that I have brought something into their lives and that they will occasionally think about the English teacher they had in the late Spring of 2012. I will certainly not forget the cake!