lunes, 15 de octubre de 2007


Good afternoon, my name is Ms. Tejada. I am here to cover for your ESL teacher. Here is what you need to do. As I circulated about the room, I asked each student the following question:

Me: Where are you from?
Students: Africa, The Dominican Republic, Peru, France, Mexico

Me: How nice! Here we have the United Nations
Students: hehehehehehe.

Ten minutes later, one of the students raises her hand and asks me to come to her desk:

Student: "Can you please help me? I don’t understand what I am supposed to do?"
Me: Let's see -I said.
Directions: Underline the last sentence of the paragraph.
Me: Use your pen or pencil to put a line under the last sentence of the paragraph -I pointed the exact location where she needed to underline, and indicated what to do with the pen.
Student: Ah, I understand now. Thank you!

A few minutes later:

Me: So, have you made any progress with the underlining of the text?
Student: I don't understand you.
Me: Were you able to do any of the work?
Student: I don't understand what you said.

Me: Did you finish the homework?
Student: Ah, yes. Thank you.

As I sat in that ESL classroom, I was transported back to 1992, when I, also, was an ESL student lost in humongous school in the Bronx… I thought of each, and every time, I did not understand when someone spoke to me in English, when my teacher made me read aloud or present something in front of the class –those were difficult times. Suddenly, the teacher in me gave way to the child I was back then; suddenly, I felt the agony of not understanding what the directions were for the homework, and I pitied her and me.

Memories kept rushing through my mind: some of them were blurred, but others were not. I could not avoid thinking of Alexander, the newly arrived Russian boy, who could not get over the fact that there were tons of stores in one single block. He was fascinated with colors, and choices, and being able to buy whatever he wanted. He had never experienced that. Instead of nostalgia for his homeland, he told me, he wished never to return... I also remembered, Yim, the shy Korean boy, who, out of the blue, gave me a cassette of Korean music. He never told me why he did it; neither did I need an explanation. I took it for what it was, and I did not read into it. I still keep the cassette, and I still have no idea of what it says. I also remembered Damaso, big and strong Damaso, who was killed a few years ago in one of the ghettos of New York City –or so I heard. I remembered, Juan who is now in prison...; suddenly, the bell rang, and I had to rush to teach my own students, it was time to experience the classroom from a different perspective; I walked away, leaving my memories in a safe place, in a place where they could be understood -they would be too foreign, and too unreal in any other place.

12 comentarios:

  1. Nice post. Those are the flashback that we keep for us, in special places. My experience in NYC was beautiful and I have so many memories . I love NY.

  2. I have great memories too when i was a child, I cant still remember when did i exactly learn English, but i do remember my experiences in ESL class, and my special teacher Ms. Medina

  3. Kalondi,
    I love New York, and like you I love to travel through out the USA, but I always come back home: New York.
    And yes, there are memories that are soooo mine that I won't even share with you guys, he,he,he,he.

    I had a few teachers, but the one that I remember the most was a Nazi; she was soooo tough; I was terrified of her, and she loved me, because I was a good student, but I was afraid that she was going to ask me to read in front of the whole class, or just something that I did not know -my knowledge of the language was near to zero. That teacher was the devil in the shape of a woman, jajajaa, but she was a good teacher. She had me speaking English in one year, of course she had the material to work with :-).

  4. Very nice post Ms. Tejada. Me identifico bastante con lo que dices. No sé que que resulta más frustrante si tener que aprender un nuevo idioma o el proceso de adaptación a la nueva cultura.

    Good stuff.

  5. wow, cada quien lleva el proceso de adaptación de la forma en que mejor puede, adaptarse a un nuevo idioma, una nueva forma de pensar, a veces hasta el aire se antoja diferente...

  6. It should be a whole experience, definitely.
    I had very good teachers and I always dreamed on studying english in the US (don't ask me why).

  7. esos momentos a veces son duros, un idioma nuevo y adaptarse es difícil, yo estoy en esas! sii todavía!

  8. Alex,

    No es fácil la cuestión de cierto modo nunca se logra del todo.

    Ginnette, "Follome to America", jajajaj. You surely will lear with that Method, jajaja. Nunca es tarde.

    Dr. No se desamine, es difícil pero se puede, pa 'lante.

    Besos y abrazos

  9. Cuantos recuerdos! Yo tenia 7 años cuando vivi esa aventura y aun la recuerdo. En mi caso mi tiempo de ESL eran solo unas horas a la semana, estaba en private school, asi que no me recuerdo bien de esas profesoras pero si de las titulares del curso y todas fueron de gran ayuda.

  10. Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across
    this board and I to find It really helpful & it helped
    me out much. I am hoping to give something again and help
    others such as you aided me.
    Feel free to surf my page ... arsenal transfer news arsenal transfer targets

  11. The Lotion is utilitariаn for peel that
    has a tempеraturе up to 150 degreеs.
    Be foгewarned that On that pοint iѕ an extra $195 fee Ѕalaried speаr carriеr attentіon to thinning
    агeas. In the nеw studу, Irаnian researchers fоund that tаntric masѕаge -- eitheг
    with parlοrs in the Melbournе arena that specialize in ргovіԁing tantrіc masѕage
    s to men frοm wοmen.

    Look at my wеbpage ... Tantra london

  12. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.