11 November 2009

From Student to Teacher

Early at the start of the fall term, a fellow student, who has been here with her husband and kids since January, approached me and asked if I'd be interested in helping a little boy with his English.  She was under the impression that he may have some learning disabilities, so she thought since I'm an OT it would be a good fit . . . and it would be a great opportunity to build a relationship with a French family. 

After thinking about it a bit, I agreed to give it a try.  Due to all kinds of scheduling conflicts, we hadn't been able to get together until today.  So this morning, my classmate and I went over to their apartment.  T is a VERY energetic little boy and he has two younger sisters who are very friendly and sociable. 

After some coffee my friend and T's mom made their way to the kitchen.  We started with colors.  He was wearing a spiderman costume, so that made it easy: red and blue.  Their was something green on the table, I was wearing purple, his sister was in pink.  A nearby book was orange and something else yellow.  We moved on to numbers.  I said the number, he woud repeat it.  We did that for a little while.  Next, I gave him a number, and he wrote it out.  Then he wrote down his telephone number and read it in English.

Letters were a little bit more tricky, as the French pronounce all the letters differently.  But I think I've found something that will help him remember . . . for all the letters that have the same sound as a word in English, I drew him a picture and explained it:  for example, the B had a little bumble-bee next to it.  The I, an eye.  And the P, a little pea pod.  And for the G and J, which the French pronounce opposite to what we do (G in French is pronounced J and vise-a-versa), I explained that we pronounce them differently.  These explainations helped him a little bit.

The W was fun to explain too: in French it is pronounced Double-V (dou-bluh-vay), but we pronounce it Double-U.  So I showed him how, while we write two V's, we say two U's . . . and I drew UU to help him remember: En français, c'est double-V and I drew VV, mais, en anglais c'est DOUBLE-U and I drew UU. 

Anyway, I finally have an in with a French family!  And when they asked what kind of work I do I told them Je suis une érgothérepute (I am an Occupational Therapist).  OOOH!  They said.  But people are the same everywhere . . . the OOOH was followed with, uh, what does that mean exactly??  Explaining what an OT does is hard enough in English, let alone very broken French.  But I had to try.  So I told them (completely in French) that we are similar to kiné (PT) but different . . . that when someone has an illness or injury (often relating to the brain) and can't do the things of everyday life, we help them learn how to do those things again.  OOOH! they said.  Vous comprenez??  Oui!  They understood what I said!!!!  I turned to my friend and said C'est un miracle!!  (It's a miracle!)

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