The Purple Heart

STA40103-1While I was not wounded in battle, I did receive a purple heart today. It was actually a clear/white heart sticker with a plastic blue heart diamond in the middle but I cooked the books so to speak on this picture to make it fit the bill…

This vacation, extra work has found me. Today I visited a new locale, near the river. I would venture that the classroom I was in was a ‘real’ school (‘real’ school being defined as no extra perks, i.e. location far away from downtown, windows open during the freezing cold, crappy chalk/blackboard, kids running around everywhere, classic [two students per] wooden desks like you see in the movies, etc, etc.) I would also venture that the students were just beginning to learn English as we were learning pronunciation from the beginning.

I brought my passport to verify with the head teacher that I was, indeed, 美国人。While feasible that I could have hailed from 埃及 or equally could have spoken 俄语, this was not the case. Hurray for official documentation. Despite being a native speaker of this language we all have grown to love so dearly, I was caught off guard. In the book I was to teach, lo! and behold, International Phonetics Alphabet (for English).

Oh, how I detest thee! I have no idea what all these dots are, what these strange letters mean. But necessity being the mother of invention (or just plain action) I quickly learnt. The only real difficulty is knowing what vowels make what sounds and why they have all the extra dots, transformations, etc. Not a problem! Today we learnt: /iː/ and /ɪ/. If you don’t know what these are, let me help you. Examples, respectively: see and sit. Tomorrow it’s /æ/ and /e/. You’re on your own (hint: use the chart provided in the link above 😉

Aside from learning English, I’m also learning Chinese. Today I had a couple of conversations with 7 y/o about random things. Each conversation lasted about 3 sentences at most. It’s still progress. In the car ride home from teaching, I also learned a couple of bad words in Chinese and evidently if you call someone 1 o’clock (in 24h time) in Chinese you’re calling them stupid. Uh huh…

Long story short, while there was no purple heart, only a blue heart awarded to the thumbnail of the new foreign teacher teaching phonetics by a 7 y/o student learning English during recess, it still was an interesting day in my humble opinion.

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