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ESL with a bunch of monkeys

I finally got out to the orphanage again. The kids had been out on one excursion or another the past several times.

I was a little early and made myself take a stroll through a small park in appreciation of spring. Yesterday it was sunny all day and in the 70's. The park was very clean and peaceful, what a gift!

We had to get the kids inside somehow for English. I know, it isn't nice to deprive them of sunlight, but we were just going to have a quick lesson. Besides, it would be a good lesson in patience and rewards.

Katya roller-skated back and forth between me and the counselor. "Don't you want to go to the park?" Did I want to go to the park? If the counselor was offering, I didn't have any objections.

"Sure." She skated back to the counselor.

"She said yes! See?" Oh. I had been tricked into disagreeing with the counselor, who had suggested going inside. Eventually we got the tearful tykes inside, promising that they could go out again later.

The kids were suddenly attentive as their recess time ticked away, and we started out strong, getting acquainted with the new material. Then came the crucial moment...I had to leave them for two seconds to look for writing implements. The transition did not go well. During those few seconds, a fistfight broke out, and Katya immediately threw herself into hysterics. (I used to worry when this happened, thinking she was injured. But one time she was having a "fit" and the other kids left the room to complain. The minute they left, she stopped flailing, looked up at me, and winked. So I do not fall for her little routine anymore, but it is quite disruptive.)

We got calmed down a bit and moved on to practicing the new vocabulary with a worksheet. As they finished, I planned to work with each one a little individually to solidify the new words. But that backfired, and I ended up with a war over stickers.

Then it was time to go back outside. The counselor asked how the class went. "Frankly, they got a bit distracted," I said. The counselor told me that the young schoolteacher who had been teaching in the fall had only lasted 2 months. HA! I mean...poor thing. But clearly I am not the only one who has a rough time. I could do SO much more if we only had a little discipline...

I played with the kids outside for a few minutes more before heading on my way.

"Children, say goodbye to Liz," the counselor instructed.



  1. Oh - pay good attention, Liz! That little incident sounds SO like the way kids try and work their parents every day!

  2. Not quite sure. It might sound LIKE something kids might do to their parents, but it's certainly not something I would have done in childhood, and it is much worse in the orphanage, or in a family where children are deprived of attention. There is much more "testing" and manipulation that goes on.


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