Archive for the 'English' Category

Scenes from school

Making plans, fifth-grade style:

Girl 1 to Girl 2: “Llámame. O dile a tu madre que llame a la mía.”
(Call me. Or tell your mom to call mine.)

Sad truths revealed in exams:

Write questions. Then write true answers.

3. your dad / have lunch / at home yesterday?

Did your dad have lunch at home yesterday?
I don’t know because he is in Germany.

On sincerity

In honor of Valentine’s day, yesterday I gave the students in my English for actors class some romantically themed discussion questions. One of my students asked the group this one: what’s your idea of a romantic evening?

The answer from one of the actresses without skipping a beat:

“Have a dinner and, then, fuck.”

The crisis hits closer

Today I walked into the international real estate firm where I teach four hours a week and was quickly informed that two of my students are no longer with the company. The news came as a huge shock—these were two of my favorite students, and they’d been some of the most enthusiastic learners. Just last Thursday we’d laughed and enjoyed class together. Today I heard the story of their being fired from their classmate, who is now alone in class with me. As it turns out, one was fired for non-crisis-related reasons, but the other, about to be a father for the second time and a four-year veteran of the company, was let go because, well, times are tough for the real estate business.

On language

Tonight as I was on my way to yoga, a rogue Mercedes almost plowed me down.

The car before it had pulled a similar maneuver, but since the light had just changed I had less time to react verbally. But I was in a crosswalk, and crossing with the flashing green little man.

Now, I am what could be considered an aggressive pedestrian, especially in Madrid, where drivers are terrible. But I’m aggressive because I do my best to be a responsible pedestrian (as responsible as someone who spent several of her formative years in New York City, jaywalking with the best of ’em). And tonight was no exception. I was crossing in a crosswalk with the light.

Already riled up by the first car’s stunt, I was boiling when the Mercedes swung around the corner at top speed.

What came out of my mouth?


After two years here, I am versed in the many variations on swear words in Spanish. But, what can I say? I seemingly had no control over this outburst. Some primitive part of me awoke, and that part of me speaks English.

I only wish the jerk had had his window down.

A conversation with one of my 7-year olds on the street

I was on my way to tennis class this afternoon when I caught up to Christian, one of my second grade students. He was alone, walking quite slowly, and clutching a bag of chuches (candy).

“Hi, Christian!” I said.


“Where are you going?”

“To the computer.”

“Ah,” I said, thinking a moment. There was an internet café a few meters ahead and I motioned towards it. He nodded.

“Where’s your mom?”

“At the restaurant.”

Geez. Poor kid is trying to entertain himself while Mom works. “Where’s the restaurant?”

Without missing a beat he told me the address and then the name when I asked. We had an entire conversation in English. On the street.

I smiled the rest of the way to tennis.

"English for all"

I found the above clipping in yesterday’s El País. Elections in Madrid (for mayor and president of the Comunidad) are in just over a month, on May 27. I was most interested in a promise made by Rafael Simancas, the socialist candidate for president of the Comunidad (region), that “100% of young madrileños will speak English” thanks to the implementation of the bilingual program in public and concertado (parochial schools that receive some funding from the state) schools until the year 2015. In order to achieve this promise, Simancas proposes investing 320 million euros during the next two legislatures. As an auxiliar de conversación in a public school, I’m part of that goal already (and some of that money goes to people like me!).

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