Somehow, despite having fallen asleep at around 4:45 (or later?) I managed to rise at 8. Perhaps my mood on the second day was bolstered by the punkish pride I felt at being able to function with so little sleep – a throwback to my college days before I took to sleeping as a way of life.
Day two – a world of difference. Perhaps the instructor’s ice breaker theory was aces after all – everyone seemed far more relaxed and began to chatter as buddies in the classroom and outside during coffee/cigarette breaks.
The instructor entered and began to speak to us in Polish. He greeted us one by one, shaking our hands so we understood that he was giving us a greeting. he pointed to himself and said a string of words including “Bill,” so we understood that he was telling us his name. He pointed to us and encouraged us to repeat what he was saying, so we understood that he was teaching us how to say what our names were in Polish. He asked us one by one so that the words became lodged in our brains (at least for that moment). He then went to the board and wrote a series of words on the board, adding the number they corresponded to. He asked us to repeat after him. jeden (1), dwa (2) … piec (5) … (the only ones I can remember how to spell, as Polish is quite tricky for non-speakers to spell). He erased the numbers and asked us to pull numbers out of a plastic bag and say the Polish name for it. then, he drew on the board in different colored markers and taught us the names for colors. niebieski (blue), carny (black), etc, exulting “dobje! (great!)” each time we answered correctly. and now, we – a small group of people who don’t speak Polish – know (as evidenced by the following days where he quizzed our memories and we responded correctly) numbers in Polish through ten and the names of the basic colors. All this, without speaking to us in english. The lesson was clear – if done correctly, it is possible to teach people who don’t understand you. He placed an emphasis on repetition, on getting students involved in different ways – hence his writing things on the board, giving us colors and numbers to pull out of a plastic bag, having us write on the board. He says that lesson material should be enforced at least three times and that, above all, it is important for your students to like you. He encouraged us to think about our final presentations.
There were more ice breakers, namely, to repeat what we had learned the previous day about the people in the class from the first ice breaker. When called upon, i remembered that Jay wanted to go to brazil, thought Tom Waitts was god and that he claimed his “perpetual age” was 27. I remembered that Patrick hadn’t been back to Korea since 1988. Mindy remembered that I hate TV but I work in it.
We were relaxed and calm and bolstered in the fact that the students we teach will be able to learn something from us after all. It was a good day.