Tuesday, January 02, 2007


My Uncle Ed is to be buried today (Tuesday) somewhere in Texas, and I start classes in a few hours. It's been something of a non-vacation for me this time around, what with working on the book, tons of lesson planning for the new content-based approach, and various family issues. Things will stabilize eventually. For the moment, I'm thinking it's good to be getting back to work. Vacation, combined with a normally solitary existence, gives a dude too much time to think. I'd rather have some noise around me right now.

Keep those fingers and tentacles crossed for a better crop of freshmen this time around. The incoming group is huge: 180 people, from what I heard. That's almost twice as many students as the normal complement. We'll also be teaching them for seven weeks instead of the usual four or five. Unfortunately, this seems indicative of a trend: as our main, hagwon-style English conversation program continues to dwindle, the frosh numbers keep going up, and those kids are a captive audience. Our bosses aren't stupid: they know there's more money to be had in focusing on the freshmen, who have to pay to take our course.

My schedule, Monday through Thursday:

9:40-10:50 Freshman English
11:00-12:10 Freshman English

1:30-2:55 Intensive 4 Reading
3:05-4:30 Intensive 3 Reading
(THURSDAYS) 1:30-4:30 Intro to Greco-Roman Mythology

I've completely revamped the way I'm doing Freshman English. Having gently insisted on not using the standard textbook this time around, I'm throwing caution to the wind and leading the students through seven weeks of task-oriented, student-centered work. First, the freshmen will all be working on A Freshman's Guide to Smoo, which will require them to do profiles of professors, find out what and where each campus building is, discover the culinary delights of the Smoo neighborhood, and other things besides. This won't be so different from running a school paper, except that the end product will be a spiral-bound guide, which we might even be able to sell for a tiny profit.

The Guide is the first 3.5 weeks. The final 3.5 weeks will be devoted to theater: the development of scripts; the procurement or fashioning of costumes; intense discussions about plot, character, and setting; read-throughs, blocking, rehearsals, a dress rehearsal... and then a performance before an audience. (By the way, if you're in the area, you're invited.) This, I think, will be much more interesting for the freshmen, who will have a chance to do some team-building as well as learn about the school they'll be attending for the next four years. Let's pray this works.

Tuesday isn't actually a class day: we have nothing but hours and hours of placement interviews ahead of us. Joy. With 180 freshmen and 30-some students in the intensive courses, this promises to be a long, long day.

Right-- bed.


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