Just happy to be here: sometimes teaching can be a very humbling experience

Published on 22nd June, 2010 in Global Bloggers by Patrick Talty

With the World Cup party in full swing, I asked my low intermediate conversation class which group of fans they thought were the most colourful. The majority went with the South Africans who they felt celebrated regardless of the team’s result, and who just dressed happily as Bruno, my Brazilian 17-year-old, put it. This got me thinking and I decided that I would devote some of the next lesson to the concept of happiness. Global pre-intermediate has a unit on Science and Technology (Unit 6) which focuses on this very topic, so off I went to plan.

The science of happiness (p 66) is a a terrific conversation starter. My students didn’t entirely agree with the writer’s view, particularly the wonderful Isadora, another Brazilian, who felt that happiness was having enough to eat. She told us of the poorer areas of São Paulo, and the divide between rich and poor. On a lighter note, Marco, my Italian businessman, said that happiness was very simple: a good wine and comfortable shoes!

I found the exercises on p 72 to be really user-friendly. The students especially liked the quotes about computers on this page and the text about the Luddites on p 73. In the end we agreed that we are all a little Luddite in our ways. Finally, the Speaking topics and phrases on p 74 were excellent as a role-play activity, and the students had no problem developing conversations. I have to say that the book is very very practical which is unusual and refreshing.

One of the peculiarities of Canadian English is adding eh onto the end of certain statements. Canadians are very fond of this, and it’s part and parcel of their language. My students enjoy practising it, but when you hear it on the end of every statement, it tends to lose its appeal. We shall keep practising though.

I visited the CN Tower last week, and as always ran into some of my students there. The tower is approximately 553 metres tall with a 23-metre solid glass floor at the top (which students love to jump up and down on). I tried it once, and aged twenty years – not for the faint-hearted! I got speaking to an Turkish student who is studying at our school. He is a retired doctor who made the trip to Toronto for one month with his wife. When I asked if he was enjoying his time in Canada he responded that he didn’t mind what the activities were or what language he learned, he was just happy to be here. A delightful man.

It’s very humbling, and motivating, to meet people who make this journey to study English.

More next week. The G20 summit is just around the corner!

Patrick