Monday, July 4, 2011


ST1B is a coda. Eight six-year-olds, it's the last class, of thirteen, of the week. Although this is their first English class, according to their parents, they seem comfortable in the language and use more words and sentence patterns than they've learned here—in other words, it's an easy class to teach.

Yesterday Adam leaned back to find something taped to the back of his chair, leaned too far and followed his weight down, smacking his head against the table as he fell to the floor. Before he stood, there was already a dark bruise in the corner of his right eye. He didn't cry. Instead, he said, "Eat the cake," one of the commands he was being asked to respond to. The other students said nothing, waiting to see what was going to happen. Nothing, except the next command, "Give a present," and here were the students finding the next slip of paper representing an idea and the language to go along with it, gesturing outward as though giving an invisible person a gift. A birthday party was the class's theme, and the class sang the birthday song, though sang, "Happy birthday to you," for all parts, even the part where you're supposed to sing, for example, "Happy birthday, dear Chip." Yes, yes, we understand the context, the students seemed to be saying, which was a comfort. I must admit I expected them to burst into a new song next, spontaneously. By that time, in this class, the finality before my being allowed to let go of the job for a couple days, all the English seemed a weird machine, a machine that had to be accompanied by my face and hands and all parts of the day in which I could remain awake. "他没哭," I told Adam's mother. He didn't cry.

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