Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Teacher Ideas: Live And Learn

As we wrap up the year, let's take some time to reflect on the personal stories of our students. Thanks to Kevin for once again writing up his students' stories in a meaningful way.

Live and Learn, by Kevin Lathrop

Students learn from our courses, and they also learn from life. As teachers, we achieve the best results when we acknowledge and draw on the experience and insight of those we instruct. Students from Level Four on Saturday presented the following as true-life stories they have learned from.

Ratna, a great student from Bangladesh, told a story from when she was sixteen years old. She fell in love with a guy named Masud, who is her husband now. A fairly long time passed between their first communication and actually seeing each other. At the beginning, they just talked on the phone. After one year, they finally met face to face. By then, they had told each other everything about themselves.

Ratna said, "When we spoke by phone, I talked too much. That’s my habit. Fortunately, my husband likes it."

When Ratna and Masud met, Ratna was very shy, had trouble finding words. Masud was surprised and said, “I don’t like this Ratna. I like the other Ratna, who spoke to me so freely on the telephone."

He drew her out, asked if she was hungry, wanted to eat, wanted to walk somewhere. Ratna said she wasn’t hungry. Masud said, “What do you mean? When we talked on the phone, you were always eating something.”

Masud asked Ratna why she liked him. The question made Ratna reflect on her feelings. Why did she like him, she asked herself. She said, “I like you, but I can’t tell you why because I don’t know.”

Then he asked her, “How much do you like me?”

“I like you more than my life,” Ratna answered. Masud just listened. He knew that she spoke the truth.

Amber’s story is about when her husband got stuck on 911. They had been in New York just one year. It was nine in the morning. Her husband called her and said, “Turn on the TV and look at what’s happening.” Amber did and couldn’t understand what she saw. Fire was coming from the Twin Towers. Her husband said, “There is a fire in a building near me. Maybe there was an explosion.” He didn’t know that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Amber’s husband said he would call back, but he didn’t. Amber worried. Watching more news, she understood that the planes had hit and it was a terrorist attack. She waited all day long for her husband’s call. At eleven at night, he finally was able to reach her from New Jersey. He had gone there by taxi. He was stuck and didn’t know how he would get home.

“Don’t wait for me,” he said. “Maybe I will come tomorrow morning.”

He arrived home the next day in the morning and Amber felt very happy, thanked god that he was safe. She had very little kids then and was new here, really needed her husband.

After the tragic event, the company he worked for moved to another building and resumed operation. Amber and her family continued their life as before, but with new appreciation of each other and each moment together.

Stories bring into play the creative and social functions of language. As students reveal themselves and respond to one another, learning takes place naturally. As a source of materials that profit the class rather than the textbook publishers and are inexhaustible, I still recommend stories from students.

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