"Today we learned how to pronounce beach and b**ch", and other highlights from this fall
This has been a packed fall for me. Aside from teaching full-time, teaching graduate students and being a graduate student (in a PhD program) myself, in addition to regular life responsibilities and family, every minute of my time has been accounted for. Suddenly, tonight, I had an evening with a stretch of time, and nothing urgent to do, so I thought it was a good time to reflect on the year so far and some of the highlights. I love my classes and my students are easier in some ways this year, though I'm working more to try to teach all their levels and meet their needs. The students are funny, warm, respectful most of the time, and have claimed the ELL rooms as their school home.
The other day I had one of those moments in class that I could get in trouble for. Many people who are learning English as a second language have trouble pronouncing short vowels sounds in English. So, in my beginner English class, we have been practicing both. The other day, I gave the students little white boards so they could write down the words they heard me saying. I had said maybe 20 words when I got to "beach". Most of them pronounced the "i" as a short i sound, making it "bitch". Teachable moment! I wrote both words on my small whiteboard, making an "x" through "bitch" as I modeled how to pronounce it, and exaggerating when I opened my mouth wide to show them "Beeeeeach". The students laughed in delight. Their teacher had said a curse AND written it down! I emphasized they should NOT say that word in school. "And outside of school?" asked one student. Those middle school students have a question and an answer for everything! At least they make me laugh.
Other highlights and moments this fall: