Mostly True Memoirs

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Philip Roth died one year ago today, May 22, 2018.

I did not know that.

Thank goodness for the internet.

I might have gone my whole life without knowing that bit of trivia.

My parents LOVED Portnoy’s Complaint.

I had never read it, but finally, after finding this book on a “must read” list, I dove in.

I hated it.

Philip Roth, through Alex Portnoy, inspired an entire generation of men to follow his overbearing, self-absorbed and whiny example.

Ick.

I will not be reading any more Roth.

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Mostly True Memoirs

Pronunciation

So many ESL teachers complain that their students continue to make the same mistakes over and over.

They mock their students in the teacher chat rooms.

Is it the student’s fault?

NO!

If errors are being made, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to teach the concept.

One very common mistake is to mix up the hard /g/ and the soft /g/ in words like colleague and college.

Teachers, don’t get annoyed.

Impatience doesn’t teach your students anything.

Explain the rule about how to pronounce /g/.

Expect mistakes.

It’s hard to learn a new language.

With practice, they’ll get it right.

If you want your students to succeed, give them the tools to succeed.

Impatience is not an effective teaching tool.

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Mostly True Memoirs

FROG?!?!

We’ve had our share of pests in the house.

Ants, of course.

Spiders, flies, moths and mosquitoes.

An occasional cricket.

Once we even had a mouse.

But this morning I had a first.

I was so shocked that I had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

It was a frog.

A FROG!!!

A frog was in my kitchen.

It was huge and brown and ugly.

Maybe it was a toad.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to scream.

Or to kiss it.

It was as big as my fist, so squishing it wasn’t even an option.

And catching it seemed a little creepy.

OK, a LOT creepy.

Luckily, it was a smart frog.

I opened the back door, and it seemed to sense its opportunity.

It headed right toward the fresh air and hopped outside.

That’s one Texas-sized crisis that was averted.

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Mostly True Memoirs

TRUCK STOP

The other day, we finally visited Buc-ee’s.

We’ve been in Texas a year, and we have yet to visit this place.

The word is it’s an amazing truck stop.

We happily discovered that it IS an amazing place.

The gifts!

The candy!

The beef jerky!

We had just eaten, and Bob was disappointed.

He would have liked to have eaten here.

I promised I would bring him back for Father’s Day.

And then I immediately regretted that offer.

My birthday falls on Father’s Day.

I don’t want to have my birthday dinner at a truck stop.

Apparently I have already made the commitment…

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Mostly True Memoirs

Stupid Humor

My student used the term “expression face” when she meant to use “facial expression.”

I immediately thought of the Boaty McBoatface PR fiasco.

I considered discussing this with her.

But I decided against it.

How do you explain that sometimes stupid is stupid.

And sometimes stupid is funny.

It’s purely subjective.

I think that the Boaty McBoatface story was hilarious.

But I’ll bet there were folks at the Natural Environment Research Council who were not so amused.

Or maybe they were.

Who knows?

There are no rules when it comes to stupid humor.

And if there are no rules, there is no logical way to explain it.

I skipped the whole Boaty McBoatface thing and just continued the lesson.

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Mostly True Memoirs

Karma

I was driving down a residential street in my neighborhood.

It was a lovely spring morning.

People were outdoors playing ball, doing yard work and washing their cars.

Families with strollers and dogs were out and about.

Bicycles and joggers were out in droves.

So, of course, I drove very slowly and carefully.

Apparently I was driving too slowly and carefully.

A young lady, driving fast, screeched behind me, yanked around my car quickly and roared past in a fury.

Everyone yelled at her.

One guy chased after her.

Several people took a picture of her license plate.

I continued on slowly past the now-outraged crowd.

When I drove out of the neighborhood and turned onto the main street, the traffic was backed up for a passing train.

I pulled up right behind my speed-demon nemesis.

I honked and waved.

She flipped me the bird.

Whatever.

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Mostly True Memoirs

A Bad Idea for a Lesson Plan

When your English Language lesson plan is prepared by a non-native speaker…

Today’s idioms were

“Don’t quit your day job”

and

“When pigs fly.”

Really?

Not only did I have to teach what these expressions mean,

I had to warn them not to say these things because they are insults.

In other words, it was a wasted class session.

These expressions are very nuanced.

Nuance is an advanced concept.

Today’s students were beginners.

I sure hope they don’t come back to class tomorrow with a black eye.

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