Articles for Teachers

By:The Arrogant One <[email protected]>

Having been in the ESL game back here in the States for a while now, I have ventured to impress upon my students the necessity of practicing English following their 3 to 3½-hour sessions at the school. Most comprehend the importance of such a request, but complain that they have neither English-speaking friends nor relations with whom to practice on a regular basis.

I, myself, speak six languages and had the opportunity to learn each in a country where it is the primary tongue. In my case the acquisition of each was no “easy” matter, especially since, in each case, I had been professionally engaged to do a job where that language played a key rôle. I was a symphony orchestra musician, while all instructions at rehearsals, etc. were generally given in that language. Did I miss any cues? You bet I did, and in each case I was the solo-timpanist! I well recall one particular rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony during my early days in the Orquesta Sinfônica Brasileira of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fourth movement of the piece starts out with a rather thunderous BANG! of the entire percussion section – which I executed perfectly – only, it was the second movement of the work they were actually playing! Besides scaring the pants off everyone, they told me my face had turned as red as a ripe tomato! Oh, boy!

Back to learning English rapidly – especially in a country where it is the native lingua: PRACTICING OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL goes a long, long way in very often accomplishing (literally) miracles! WHERE? Simple. Listen for the magic word, as I’ll say it but once: Abracadabra … Cadabra-abra… Starbucks. Yes, my friends, your student should go to the nearest facility (preferably in a non-alien neighborhood), buy a Venti Drip coffee for $1.70, sit down at one of the many indoor/outdoor tables, espy a person in the immediate vicinity with a pleasant smile and disposition and strike up a conversation. Talk about the weather … about sports … movies … politics … music … anything, but keep talking! It’s surprising how responsive and downright friendly Americans can be with their coffee in front of them. Some might even volunteer to correct the grammar of those students who make obvious errors. In any event, any ESL student in this great land should understand that this is basically a society of foreigners, very much like themselves. In most cases, only one or two generations back, our own families sprang from other parts of the world bringing with them their native linguae, their beliefs, customs, and ceremonies. But, despite their often multitudinous differences, everyone has managed to fit into this magnificent social structure known as the USA. Practically every newcomer to this land eventually feels this inexpugnable aura.

Please suggest to your students that they try The Starbucks Experience … they just might like it.

Love to all,

The Arrogant One

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