Saturday, August 18, 2007

My First Day As A Tutor

As the whole teacher thing doesn't seem to be working out, I am back to trying my hand as a tutor. I think/pray/hope this will actually work out for the better, but we shall see.

Brian has been tutoring a middle-aged woman for awhile now, and today was the day to see if she would take to me as to give Brian more time off. The woman and her husband are fairly wealthy and she has more or less taken the last year off to learn English. Her plan is to learn as much as she can now, move to Singapore in January, learn even more there and then travel the world.

Thus she wants lots of tutoring. Lots and lots of tutoring. So much tutoring she has already invited me to live with her so that I can tutor at every moment.

She lives in one of the high rise apartments about a 15 minute taxi ride from SMIC. She is on the fifteenth floor and has a lovely view of the big park in PuDong and the excellent Shanghai skyline. she is also a bit of old China which unfortunately means she isn't too fond of air conditioners. It was a good 85 degrees inside and we all sweated together.

Truth be known, I am not really a teacher or a tutor. Though at one time in my life I thought I wanted to be in that line of work - the thought of sculpting young minds and all that - but in the last few years I much prefer the company of a good book, an excellent film, an artful album and my computer. My social skills have dropped quite considerably in the 2000s and the reality of it all is that though I do enjoy the company of a few good friends, mostly I don't really like talking to people.

Call me a hermit. Call me Howard Hughes. Just don't really call me because I'm busy watching the Sopranos.

All of this is to say that the two and a half hours of tutoring was exhausting. Brian did most of the work and still I had had enough in about half an hour. She speaks decent English in that I can understand what she is saying, but that I have to really concentrate on her words and gather lots of context.

She wants very much to learn and in that way she is a good student, but she is older and slower and she will take great effort to get her to where she wants to be.

She has a book that her and Brian have been studying and at first I will take over that, but I'd like to come up with some other things as well. For instance I think I will record some shows off of NPR and the BBC and have her listen, and then answer questions. I think we will allow time for conversation as well.

I've painted kind of a negative picture, and that isn't exactly all correct. This is something I can do, and I know there will be rewards from it, but it is all overwhelming at the moment. It isn't really something that brightens my eyes when I think about it, as it is no longer something of a career goal. But I do think it will be nice to see her progress and find ways to help her move in the right direction.

Brian and I are supposed to come up with a plan this weekend on how I am going to take over and how I am going to get her prepared for her worldly travels.

Wish me luck.

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