Thursday, April 16, 2009

All over the map.

Can I just say that I am FREAKING FREEZING, and I have been for hours???

It is supposed to be warm here thankyouverymuch.

My back and neck and jaw and shoulders start to ache when I have been cold too long. Am I alone in this?

Got an hour of painting in today which was SWEET SWEET SWEET! But I was so busy painting I didn't get any photos, and anything I took now in the dim light of 11:19 pm, would look like CRAPOLA.

I've been thinking about food (when I am not thinking about painting, and well, teaching and language and and and and)...Youngest and I tried to make yoghurt last night (you know, there are more ways to spell that word than are reasonable). It didn't turn out perfectly, shall we say. Kinda curd-y and bitter so it is hanging over the sink on the conveniently located handles for the cupboard above, hopefully becoming fresh cheese. Not good enough to go the Greek yogurt route, so we will see what it is like tomorrow....

I have also been trying to make a perfect truita de patates. This is a TOTALLY Catalan thing, though who knows, maybe they make it all over Spain and I just have no idea. There are as many variations on the recipe as there are people who make it, and as the population of Catalonia is about seven and a half million and at least half of them can make this, we are talking a lot of variations.

My first try was edible, but not a roaring success, my second, last night...sorry no photo, they all turned out terribly fuzzy. I was very hungry, it must affect the steadiness, or unsteadiness of my hands....

anywhoo, the second one was better. Still not good by local standards, but closer. I have more advice now (contradicting some of the earlier advice - no surprise) I am going to try again on the weekend. Let's hope the man is taking his cholesterol pills.

The man by the way, is suffering from what we think is plantar fasciitis. Yuck. Means he can't run. Any Spanish readers out there who know where we could get an ergometer cheap.....

I taught a new student today, she is the younger sister of one of the teachers at Youngest's school, can you tell this is a village? Oh, and my dentist and her mother came into work today looking for English lessons. My dentist and her mother are respectively the niece and the sister of the man I mentioned before who is dating one of the teachers where I work, once dated a different teacher and wanted to date another. (Maybe he has a bit of a thing for teachers, no?) Village!

The new student I taught today is an interesting case study in language acquisition. She has taken some lessons, but is living in the States and is to some extent an autodidact. There are interesting gaps in her language knowledge. If you speak to her, she speaks quite well, she makes few grammatical errors on a moment to moment basis and sounds quite fluid; but once we got started I discovered that she doesn't know the present perfect, which is...have gone, as in "I have gone to bed". Nor had she ever used the 'be going to' form of the future, as in, "I am going to Canada this summer." Rather glaring absences. She also asked me, "What is it with 'do'? What is that for anyway?" This is something we teach in one of the very first classes. You need it to make a question or a negative statement. She can use it correctly, but has no idea why it is there and how it functions. The other teachers rolled their eyes when I mentioned this, but honestly, how many of you could give me the reasons we use do in English. I can, I teach it, but anyone else who is NOT an English teacher???? I bet almost no one. We don't need to know why, we just use it.

Fascinating how the mind works. There were things she understood and had used, but couldn't do.

Seems contradictory, but it is probably a really good lesson on the obstacles we face with the quirkiness of the human brain.

Try that Artificial Intelligence!!!

Night night..



She said...

Teaching English as a second (or third) language is a tough job. I see those kinds of gaps in my ELL students all the time. It's hard to grapple with. I agree that we don't need to know the why, we just need to know how to use it correctly and effectively. :-)

Your cooking experiments sound yummy. I wish I had the inclination to experiment with making food (or cooking at all!)

Restful sleep to you!

J.G. said...

As a native speaker, I'm there: I can DO all the grammar stuff, but I have trouble articulating why, beyond "It just sounds right" and "It just looks right."

Sounds like you had a good day of cooking and painting. Hope you are warmer by now.

TeacherMommy said...

See, now I KNEW I liked you. You have any idea how much it tickled my English teacher soul (as a first language, supposedly, though you wouldn't know it with some of my kiddos--teens these days, I tell ya) to see you talking verb conjugation and using the word "autodidact?"

I love you. It's official.

But I am SO jealous that you can paint. The artist genes on both sides of my family decided to show up just enough in me to make me want to be good, without being strong enough to actually BE good.

Grr. Maybe this can be a nice love-hate relationship.

Diane Mandy said...

I am beginning to wonder whether I brought the rainy cold weather with me when I moved here. I mean, really, where's the beautiful Spanish spring I was promised?

I back in town and hope we can meet up again soon!

elpadawan said...

most slavic languages, like Czech, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian, and maybe some others, have only three tenses: Present, Past, Future. The very idea of present perfect, continuity of an action, are alien to them. Either something is done, or not. It's not "in the process of having been done, somewhere in the past, over some indefinite length of time". Yet, they can understand when people use it. Its use wouldn't come to them naturally, however...

oreneta said...

She, in a way I am finding it more fun teaching her, it is a kind of investigative work rather than the predictable build that we normally do. It is also fun because she is SO keen to learn.

JG, at the moment I am warmer, thank you. Teaching English as a non-grammarian is interesting. I can teach at the very highest levels, though I need a grammar reference for some of it, there is a level where they are studying for a very particular exam that I have trouble with. They ask me brutal questions like why the second conditional in the passive voice acts a certain way and I look at them BLANKLY. I don't even know if you can use second conditional in passive voice. They need to be able to trot out the rules and I can't. I can mark everything without a problem though.

Teachermommy, honestly, I am not particularily brilliant either, though I would like to get good enough to sell a bit. The reality is that, like anything, the vast majority of artists aren't Picassos or Mirós and that's OK. I really enjoy it, a like the act of painting, and with practice, like anything, I am improving. The reality is that to be great, there has to be skill, but also a bloody-minded ruthless determination to do nothing else. I am not prepared to do that. I am happily married and intend to stay that way. I have two kids, and would never consider not parenting them as best I can. I want to have a life that is balanced.

I suppose what I am really saying is go ahead and paint. Go for it. So what if it isn't brilliant. If you enjoy it, set too. You will improve and you will have disasters. Lots of painters regularly had bonfires of their work they didn't like. Heck, DaVinci repainted and repainted ENDLESSLY. Go for it.

Diane, they keep telling me that it is Spain, and it is normal. Tiresome, but normal. I would ADORE getting together with you again! That would be fabulous!

ElP, I have that problem with subjunctives. I can understand when people are saying them, I just can't seem to remember to use them and I remain unsure when I should use them. Tough all around. I was told by a speaker of one of the Chinese languages that they don't conjugate verbs at all, rather put a time reference into the sentence. I am not sure of that as a fact, but it was an interesting thought and could certainly make things easier.

My goodness, what long replies I am writing.