the goal of berhan language institute and other international language programs is to create an environment of learning where children learning english as their second language can grasp the language in such a way that they can speak it in a spontaneous, native-like manner.
i reflected on this today and how it fits in with the context of other aspects of life here in taiwan: the blossoming relationship between my students and myself, learning to navigate feng yuan and taichung a velo, au bus and au scooter (by bike, by bus and by scooter), teaching sunday school for the first time in my life due to a new calling in the english branch, doing things as a berhan family.
spontaneous. i get to be witness to the language development of children. while it is at times a trying job, i feel rewarded when i see them smile at me, extend their little palms out for a high five, jump up and down in excitement for an activity i've planned, and get a sense of them wanting to please me. i have a student whose english name is king in one of my classes, and one day i told the class that was my family name. they weren't really sure how to handle the news except giggle and then king wrote my name on the board. and then little four-year-old jeremy grabbed his own marker and charged in.
the king himself
jeremy continues to intrigue me as a personality. he has a very bright mind and deep down, i sense there is a want to be accepted and to please, but also a big streak of independence that a classroom simply cannot contain. and is perfectionistic about his work. complex kid for four years old, and his little body cannot hold the force of his personality quite yet. there have been several times where he has caught me off guard with his humor that i have just stopped my teaching to watch him go and try to regain composure as a teacher. like on friday when he stuck three pencils in his mouth, point side out, and started to roar like a dinosaur. today he strode up to the whiteboard, grabbed a marker, and then assumed the demeanor of a teacher, complete with the know-it-all-stare and the clicking of the tongue that many teachers practice as pauses inbetween sentences, and proceeded to teach us a brief lesson on the picture of the girl that he spontaneously drew. at intervals during his lecture he would turn his face to me, in teacher character with eyebrow arched and marker poised over the whiteboard, and then turned back to his work. it's incredible to me that a four-year-old would have that kind of observation skills to mimic adults with such precise manner and make it funny. i wish i had gotten it on camera.
native-like my mode of transportation is a bicycle. i ride the streets to the grocery store, to the park, to restaurants, to night markets, to the movies. there are more 7-11s in taiwan than there are starbucks in seattle. but the amount of groceries i am able to take home at one time is whatever i've been able to fit in the bicycle basket and also hang on the handlebars. today i was proud of myself for bringing home a dozen of eggs via bike without hurting a single one. i am mastering the bicycle.
spontaneous and native-like tonight i successfully baked something for family home evening, substituting some kind of yogurt drink for buttermilk, and using a metric system oven and no timer. on sunday i was graciously given a lift home on the back of a scooter by another member of the branch. in one hand, i clutched my skirt, trying not let garments flash about and the other hand clutched for dear life on the back of the thing. riding a scooter in taiwan truely feels like being in a video game: like mario cart, really. with the wind at our faces, and traffic and a language barrier to navigate, we still talked a conversation about the heat of taiwan, the rain, places we want to travel to, and dating.
i have a friend who has done a lot of traveling and he said that when he's abroad, everything seems to have meaning. he was so spot on. even little things like the morose bulldog that lives next door, hankerings for american food, and having to give the grocery cart a 10NT coin before having access to it, all seem to have deep significance.
still so much more to talk about like the food, the chinglish, the recycling, our adoration of a japanese flick called "death note"....