Simplify

7 Jun

I teach English.

My specialty is: anything goes.

I teach online and offline, private lessons, groups, corporate, academic, beginners, teachers, general and on-demand. Basically, I adapt to whatever you need and give it to you.

I was recently hired to teach at a nightclub.

The mission is to help the staff deal with foreign patrons in a noisy, nightclub environment. These are not ideal conditions, and the staff  (60 people – cooks, waiters, cashiers, bartenders and cleaners) have never studied English before.

Truth be told: These people have had very humble upbringings, and can’t even speak Portuguese correctly, let alone English.

Plus, the nightclub can only afford one lesson a week for its staff, and it needs results fast.

Therefore, the strategy is this:

At this point, you may be thinking WTF?!?

Let me explain.

The 3 sets of 4 phrases all mean the same thing. The first set is in Portuguese, the second in English and the third is a phoneme language I have invented, and named Villish (the name of the nightclub is Villa Mix)

See, the students need to have a cheat sheet so they know WHAT they’re saying and HOW to pronounce it correctly. If all they have is the English words, they’ll try to pronounce it using their knowledge of Portuguese, and it’ll come out wrong. So, I’ve written the 4 phrases in Portuguese sounds that they can recognize. Not a new technique, but a very good one.

As Villa Mix can only afford to pay for one lesson a week, I need to make sure they’re going to practice throughout the week (a.k.a homework), otherwise they’ll forget what they learned, and we’ll never progress, and they’ll feel discouraged, and they’ll give up. And that’s unacceptable.

Then, all I did was get them to chant these phrases with me, put them into groups, role-play, do games and competitions, etc… anything that would make them repeat these sounds over and over.

As they left the first class and headed to the train station, I could hear them shouting the phrases to each other in very reasonable accents.

The following week, at the beginning of the second lesson, at least half greeted me with a joyous “Gu-div-nim!”, including one of the older cleaning ladies, who is completely illiterate.

In simple surroundings, simplify.

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