Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tutoring Follies

For the last few years, I've been tutoring at the elementary school, helping kids who just need that little extra *something* to not fall behind.

I've not always had the best gigs. I remember one kid that I just wanted to poke in the eyeball most days. But on the whole, it's been rewarding, if only in the 'I did something today to hopefully help a kid stay afloat' sort of way.

This year, I've been tutoring a boy who doesn't really seem to need tutoring. What he needs is someone standing over him with a stick saying "Stop wasting your time" *smack!* (as the stick comes down on the table beside him). OK. I exaggerate. But this kid is plenty smart. He's got the concepts, it's just that he may need an aide of sorts to help him stay focused on task. And that's not really what tutors are for. I've told the new teacher (he got a new teacher partway through the year) that I thought he needed an aide more than a tutor, and she agreed, and then asked if I'd still be available (with enough notice) to act as that 'informal aide' during tests (and perhaps during the standardized tests) in the future. I agreed. I'll also be stepping in as her 'clerk' as there are no parent volunteers in this class who have taken on that role, and I don't think teachers should have to spend their 'prep' time doing menial stuff like photocopying and collating.

So I have my two tutoring sessions open again. And it wasn't more than about 13 seconds before the Tutoring Coordinator was knocking at my door.

Today, I'll start tutoring a new student. He's just moved here from Ukraine. (And can I say how VERY difficult it is to say "from Ukraine" and not "from THE Ukraine"? What's up with that? I am an old dog. I do not learn new tricks. And "from Ukraine" just sounds WRONG. It's like saying "From Old Country" or "From House Where I Grew Up" . In my brain, Ukraine needs the definite article.) He, obviously, needs a little help getting up to speed in English.

So I thought I'd be all smart, and brush up on my Ukranian, so we could chat in his mother tongue. I can say a few basic things, but things like "What would you like to read about?" are kind of above my pay grade. But that's what Google Translate is for!

I went over to the site, and I punched in a simple little conversation starter: Good morning. What would you like to learn today?

Seems simple enough. I already had the 'Dobre Utro" business down pat. Just needed that second sentence...

And here's what Google Translate spit back at me:

Доброе утро. Що Ви хотіли б дізнатися, на сьогоднішній день?

I'm STILL laughing. That'll teach me for trying to look uber-smart.

Anyone read cyrillic?





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