Monday, 9 February 2009

On the road

Or rather on the tracks. I haven't spent the last few days under the cupola but, in fact, under the three cupolas of St. Michael's, one big and two smaller spires of St. Wenceslas, two fort-like towers of St. Maurice and a larger number of various towers, turrets and tallish appendages of this sort.

Work called.

I seem to be drawn into doing things in which I'm not really competent. This time, I was asked to write an ESL/EFL textbook, having no teaching degree or education of any sort neither being particularly competent in English. The thing had been discussed well before but for whatever the reason, nothing much was done. Two weeks ago, I was told that the work started and that the guys, meaning the editors, started working on it. I got a vivid description of what they did and how nice it looks... but the last thing that matters is whether the cover will be blue or yellow.(1) And my dear boss is not really fluent in English so she doesn't have much idea about the overall structure of the language.

Last week, I spent most of the time in a busy confinement. The guys (TM) made a rough sketch. What I could understand was that there had to be a cartoon in every unit and that the units be based on the cartoon, or the cartoon be based on the content of the units... or just something. They made a full Unit One which I graciously ripped apart and threw away because The Guys spat tons of impossible words on the poor innocent kids without any hint how to use the words, but for pointing at a, say, rhinoceros and saying „rhino“.

I would be an evil teacher. I've gone to language courses modelled loosely on the rule of One hour in the class = two hours' work at home. Not applicable for the basic school, though. Being subject to the torture of incompetent teachers and methods that should be banned, I had a clear idea that the final product should not be a child that can point at a rhinoceros and say „rhino“, nor a child frustrated by the need to use English. (2) It's not a big deal. I think that everything has been invented already in this field, I'm however extremely enjoying writing the teacher's book. I imagine the throngs of traditionally reactionary teachers, at least one less-than-half-competent reviewer who will point out that making the kids use some auxilliary verbs as soon as Unit 7 is too complicated. But, how do I form questions without auxilliary verbs? I do not and I will not bother the kids with telling them that the verbs are auxilliary, though.

Now, I'm on the night train back to Italy. I'll have to check whether there's a nice noun to cisalpine and transalpine. I'd like to have a nice way to say Before Alps and Beyond the Alps (3). These are two worlds. Beyond the Alps, I go to work on a rather regular basis... and I live with parents. So, I'm constantly distracted. I'm told that I should go to bed, I shouldn't eat bacon and eggs – I don't do it normally because I don't buy bacon and eggs, at parents', it's always around. And, if I make my bacon and eggs, I should eat it with bread. I need to do many things for appearances' sake – not to knit while watching movies or just sitting and talking, going to bed at something that resembles normal time.

Before the Alps, it's a concentrated intellectual solitude. I don't waste energy on arguing how come that someone who claims to be a household expert washed all coloureds together so that my aqua €70 bra turned grayish violet because that damn T-shirt, which was such a bargain, bled and stained all the rest – I do my own laundry. I do my own cooking. I can work out without anyone seeing me sweaty and I can listen to Brahms to my heart's content. Which reminds me that I left my headset behind in Beyond the Alps.


(1) No, I don't care a damn about what the marketing department thinks, they can roll it and stick it up their arses. We don't have marketing department but for some reason outside my understanding, my last, first and hitherto only book had a burnt orange cover. I hate burnt orange.
(2) I guess I have a posttraumatic stress disorder caused by German language teachers. Three were two pages ahead, the fourth was probably a former prison guard or at least had a mentality of one. I don't know German, I avoid using it, if I'm to mess with it, I prefer the sweet soft Vienna variety to the allegedly righter Saxon version that tears my ears apart. Go figure.
(3) You are at liberty to ignore that beyond is one of my fave English prepositions.

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