Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bad people to have next to you on the plane.

Teaching stuff: (shocking I know, a post about lessons for once)

Teaching Jobs: Spy
This is appropriate for pre-intermediate.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Lesson time: 45 minutes-60minutes depending on your students
Materials: Jobs handout of vocab lists, note cards/slips of paper with descriptions of jobs
Get a list of jobs and professions. I use the one from ESL Images which is great, but if you already have a list, or want to add jobs this will also work. I add the profession of spy to this list. Go through the professions, have the student circle the ones that they already know. Have them look up the others in a dictionary, draw a picture and then describe it in English, if you don't have pictures to go along with the list. Let spy or secret agent be the last on the list. Then tell the students that there are a number of spys in the town. I used 001-009. I made slips of paper that had descriptions of jobs, or people, and had the students guess which job the spy was pretending to be.
example: 001- She is very smart and went to University. She knows a lot about animals. She wanted to become a doctor. (She is pretending to be a vet)

While it certainly isn't mandatory (and probably better if you don't), I mentally hum "Secret agent man" in my head throughout the lesson.

Teaching Allowed/Not allowed: Smugglers
Appropriate for pre-intermediate to beginners
Prep time: One hour
Lesson time: 15 to 30 minutes
Materials: Slips of paper/note cards with things that you are or are not allowed to bring on the plane.
Pre-teach: vocabulary words and how to ask questions, if you do this in the same lesson, it will probably take 45-65 minutes all together (depending on your students)
Have students brain storm what they are allowed to bring on the airplane; MP3, Clothes, Books etc. and what they are not allowed; Apples, knives, bombs, (some of my 7th grade got really creative). Then elect two security officers and send them out of the room. Hand each student 2 cards, mix up allowed and not allowed items. Have security officers question each student. They are allowed only 2 questions per student, and must guess if the "passenger" has something that is not allowed. The "guards" must ask specific questions, for example "Fruit is not allowed on the airplane, do you have any apples?" The "passenger" must tell the truth. If they don't have fruit, but have an MP3 player on their cards, they would respond "I don't have any apples, but MP3 players are allowed". If the "passenger" is caught with an illegal item, they must sit down.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Things I am learning, am working on or wish that I was learning.

With two and a bit weeks left of school, I am mired by confusion. I am learning a lot and yet I feel as if I am learning nothing. I remember back to my first week here, and the advice the amazing Mária gave us:
As a teacher, you should never stop learning. Always start someting new. A new language, an new sport, a new way to do something that you already do. This not only will help you improve your mind, but remind you to have sympathy for your students.

Currently I have a full plate, but am being lazy. These are the things I am working on:

Hungarian - Everyday I butcher this beautiful language. And really I haven't improved much over the past few weeks. Nothing made this more pointedly obvious as when on Friday I went to a Magna Cum Laude concert with two acquaintances. One understood more spoken English the other spoke more English. I understood little of what they said in Hungarian, but I should have been able to.

History - Yup. Have not done anything to expand my history brain lately. I think I will be in trouble come August.

Carpe Diem - living for the moment and not dwelling on the past is extremely difficult, I wonder if other history majors have this problem.

Spanish - So far I am learning bad words and how to say don't worry. I am not very good at it, because English, German and Hungarian pronunciation sounds nothing like Spanish.

Things I wish I was learning:

How to reach tired students
How to enjoy the moment without worrying about when it will end.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Cooking with the students in Szent Anna-Szent Gellert is always interesting.

It reminds me that these are good kids. They may not want to work in class, or give me sass. The may stare at me blankly, or whine about wanting to do something else, but through some sugary-warm magic, I see different people in Szent Anna.

The students will speak to me in English or German, without me feeling like I am pulling teeth.

They bring music to dance to, and tell me all of the gossip. I have some surprising interesting things about the social structure of KJRKG. One example is that 12th graders may be dating a 9th grader, a 11th grader may be dating a 10th grader. Everyone dates people from different grades without the recriminations that they would face from their friends in the USA. They even tell me about which teachers are handsome or/and I should flirt with.
I have learned about smoking/drinking/parents/other teachers all through the view point of the students that grace my 2 hour take-over of the kitchen.

They are eager to help, although this could be because it is something interesting on a Thursday evening and the fact that they wont get a suti if they don't help, but, they do the dishes even when I tell them not to.

Is it the sweet lure of baked goods, or the more relaxed atmosphere of late night cooking which gets them to confide things to me?

One of the first weeks that I baked with the students, I was informed that they didn't see me as a teacher. This is something that has haunted me. What could I do to be taken seriously? Should I be strict and mean, should I wear even more make-up to appear older? Talking with other American teachers, I discovered that few of us are really viewed like a real teacher. Whether it is telling students that our classes that they wont get a grade, or because most of us don't speak Hungarian, we are all in a fairly strange position. Teaching limbo. Neither student nor teacher, although everyone mistakes me for a student. It is strange and worrying.

Last night another of the students clarified. They do not see me as a teacher, they see me as a

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

And on the third, fourth and fifth days...

Air conditioning.
If I could create levels of heaven, like Dante's circles of Hell, Air conditioning would be right up there. It has been to hot to teach, and too hot to think lately.

Here is a pleasant bit of random: I had originally meant to have at least one blog a month that was titled "on the X day..." that would somehow relate back to Genesis. I could go on about the symbolism of how it a reflection the Genesis of being a "responsible" adult, or how because I work in a religious school, I have bible on the brain...but I wont. - Anyway, as this is the fifth month I decided to check exactly what happened on the fifth day. On the fifth day God created "great sea serpents" and "great whales." Ahh Szarvas and Ahab, the timing was perfect, my whale and snake-hunting friends.

The kids are getting squirelly and restless. It is difficult to teach them...or even to keep them in line. One of my girls put it simply "It is too hot and the end of the year, and I have no patience for the English"
My response "The English?" but what I was really thinking was - me too

This week I also made a mid-week break for freedom. I felt so deliciously naughty going to Szolnok on a Tuesday morning after my classes were done. Riding the train away from my town, my school, my apartment. Eating fornetti and contemplating adventure. This was only the second time I have visited Emily in Szolnok. The first time was my first weekend in Hungary, still dazed and dazzled by change and confusion. This time I enjoyed it more. We did crafty things, listened to music and met Ken and Jenny for a beer. I wish I had had more time, but all too soon I was on the bus, on the train and Hazaféle. However I met an acquaintance on the train, who introduced me to his friend. They walked me home. It was nice.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Igaz or is it Nem Igaz...a weekend in Szarvas

Let's play a variation on a game I play in class; which of the following are true, and which are lies? For logical answers and hints read Emily's Blog

We rowed a boat at midnight, under a purple cloudy sky.

We protected each other from things that go squish in the night. Attila was in charge of frogs, Eve was in charge of the eels, Csongor was in charge of protecting us from the water, I was in charge of snakes, and Captain Ahab (Emily) was in charge of Moby Dick. Only Ahab and myself were prepared, as we had thought to bring the fire-pit roasting forks.

We made a delicious sangria for ourselves and a toxic palingria for Csongor.

We walked barefoot through the park (and by that I mean the Szarvasi Arboretum)

We paid a lot of money to get into said Arboretum.

We found an article with the label "Sex and the Kids" which had a picture of a shirtless guy and girl doing things, while reading a pre-teen magazine.

I was not disturbed by this.

We discovered that soot was better bait for fish than bread.

We played bread-golf

We ate terrible Mexican food

Emily and I saw a giant snake writhing near the boat on Sunday, and no one else believed us.

There was a no pók zone.

I was sober and healthy all weekend.

We spelled GHP with our bodies

We walked past the wooded effigies of Hungarian History

We were not confused by the windmill-like monument at the historic geographical center of Hungary.

Ahab stabbed a Borsodi bottle, because the neighbour's motor boat did not scare the white whale close enough

We contemplated the fine art of sneaking into the Arboretum at midnight and going peacock hunting with our harpoon/roasting forks

We argued with Csongor on the the role of Fate vs CETP in our lives, would we still have been friends without this program? Would we still hang out as much if we weren't in the GHP?

We had wholesome conversations for at least 2 hours that did not involve talking about our schools, I timed this unusual phenomenon.

I sadly realized that I had to say goodbye to Eve, and that we may not meet again.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cipő, Csipő, csipós....why is my Aikido instructor discussing shoes?

Up until weekend before last, I hadn't left Gyula since Spring break. (Well except for Békéscsaba and Sarkad, but they don't count). The weekend before last I went on the HIKE, otherwise known as a field trip with the Csabas.

About a month ago, or maybe more, I was in a do everything mood and one of the Biology teachers asked if I wanted to go hiking. "Sure" I said, innocently dismissing the facts that I a) had never really been on a long hike before, and b) am incredibly lazy. So on the weekend when we also had 3 days off of school (12th grade needing 3 days of quiet for extensive exams) the csabas, 16 students and myself took the train to Balkony. In four days we hiked over 67 km, 30 of which on Monday alone. Although I spent part of it wondering why I hadn't gone to Kalocsa, Szeged, Romania or anywhere else instead, mostly I mused on the beauty of my surroundings and sandwiches.

Sandwiches, ah the sandwiches. This may seem random, but reading other CETP blogs, I realize that I am not the only one who has noticed the Hungarian love-affair. It is one of those small surprises that takes awhile to get used to. 7:20am look around the halls just before 1st period and you will see students consuming mass quantities of bread thickly layered in butter, salami and cheese. Tin-foil and napkins crinkling to unleash that almighty staple. On the hike I had a chance to view, just how many sandwiches people really eat. I had noticed that the teachers always had an unending supply, but I think I watched one of my students eat 6 sandwiches in one day, as well as breakfast, dinner and assorted snacks.

The hike also gave me time to practice my pici-magyarul. I think I was finally getting the hang of the difference between hips, shoes and spicy...but then they threw in shoe-laces and I am lost again. The difference is all in the "O" sound.

The week before last was also Ballogas. 12th grade graduation, and unlike anything I had ever seen. On Thursday I was approached by one of my 12th grade boys with a small white card. It was an invitation to the school könyvtar on Friday. So herded in like a dazed sheep I sat next to the German and Spanish teacher. Then in came the 12B class bearing flowers and wrapped gifts. Each teacher was thanked for their time and effort, and given a flower and a gift. Students were then thanked, puszi were exchanged and that was that. I should explain that one of my weird interests is the Victorian language of flowers, so it gave me a sappy feeling that they chose a pink carnation. Pink carnations mean "I will never forget you" A nice farewell to my first 12th grade class.
Saturday was more interesting as they all dressed in their formal gear (sailor suit tops for the girls over a black skirt, and a suit for the boys), bearing armfuls of flowers, they paraded through each room and then the town singing farewells. It ended up in church, as many things do, for a mass and farewell speech from the principal.


I got this idea from a website and combined it with my own activities -
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:
Draw Evil-pirate Bob on the chalk board, ask what his problem is.
After about 6 answers from the students, inform them that Bob, is not only all of the things they suggested, but also forgetful.
Ask them in small groups to discuss other problems people could have. ex: I hate pop music, but my boyfriend is a pop star. If you have other stock characters ask what their problems could be
Go over "subject + should" grammar structure
Discuss what is advice, who gives advice.
Divide into 3 groups and ask them to give you advice for your problems. Tell them that 1 group will be the good advice, 1 group will be the bad advice and the last group will be the ugly or really bad advice. Change the good, bad and ugly group for each problem, so everyone has a chance to be all 3.
From the problems that they thought of for evil pirate Bob and other problems, make up a "Dear Advice Columnist" type letter, read it aloud and have them offer their good, bad or ugly advice.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The first of the long goodbyes.

I was reading Emily's post when it dawned on me. I only have 6 more weeks of teaching, only 3 of which are whole weeks, before I switch roles and once again become a student. I wish I could stay.

Yesterday was 12th grade's last day of classes. Next week they have to take their final exams which will decide if they can attend University in the fall. It was a little sad to say goodbye to the first of my classes. Although on the positive side, my life will no longer peppered with questions of "go to th
e bed with the boyfriend?" At this point I think it is a fair trade.

Actual teaching stuff:

Recently I was surfing various ESL/EFL sites when I found it. The best lists of Vocab words. I wish that I had found it earlier.

The website:

It is always interesting to see what works with one class, and not another. Of the Australia
lesson that I taught last week, the animals station was popular in every class. The pictures
and food were also well liked (well the cookies were, but the Vegimite was met with twisted
faces of horror) however the history section took the longest.

The stations, themselves were only problematic in one class, because they did not want
to move. The others seemed to like it. 9 hetfő chose to work in pairs, where as 11 szerda
worked as a class.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Immaturity thy name is Breiggy

This is a quick post, because I have a lot to do yet, and it is only 10am.

My favorite thing that I have been discovering here, is how much of a child I still am. That's right, as I discover that innocent words in English are explicit in Hungarian, I giggle. But only half as hard as I do when the innocent Hungarian words are really explicit in English.

mmmmm....False friends, my life would be plural-trees boring without you.

PS. Nő means woman, and yes it is a pun.