Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ends and beginnings

Everything seems to be starting or finishing at the moment. I finish tutoring and start correspondence study next week. New classes have just started at both my other jobs.

I started teaching "English and computers for fathers" on Saturday. The class turned out to be a small group from the Middle East and North Africa. A couple of people have been in the UK for up to 13 years and want to brush up their English and computer skills to keep up with their school aged children. One student was a complete beginner on both counts and it took some time to find out that he has only been in the UK several weeks. I realised things were tough when various questions were all answered with either his name or 'Morocco'.

The tutoring work is a different world. My Kazakh students (jagshemash!) are fine tuning their English so that they can participate more fully in the office they work in. I've really enjoyed teaching one student who is quite a linguist. He has just read a book on the relationship between Russian and Sanskrit (a subject I find fascinating) and he also makes very interesting comments about similarities between Russian and English. I'm going to miss the intellectual discussion.

Down on the farm things were quite emotional today with the end of my first class. Over the course of three months the group has really bonded together, to the extent that one student with accommodation problems is moving in with another who receives government assistance. All of the students will continue on as part-time volunteers and I'm thinking of organising a dinner sometime in Finsbury Park, the 'little Algeria' which could become my new Chungking.

I'm back to familiar things with the next group starting at the farm tomorrow. It seems that most of the students are going to be Congolese. Speaking of which, I confirmed a long-held suspicion today. 'Do you want to kill me?' is actually a direct translation of an expression in Lingala. I'm planning to learn the Lingala version and using it as often as possible.

This is not as dramatic as it may seem. When I worked in Hong Kong there was one Congolese guy who would say it anytime we didn't serve croissants at breakfast.

1 comment:

Knuffy's Owner said...

Something along similar lines I learnt from some Israeli friends is the Hebrew phrase "Ma ani ez?" which means "What am I, a goat?" Supposed to be used when someone is neglecting you.