Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Teaching Conversation class at Coptic Cathedral

Besides the Iftar, tonight was my first night of teaching at the Coptic Cathedral! In addition to my job at St. Andrew’s I’m teaching an Advanced Conversation course in English at the Coptic Cathedral once a week for 1 ½ hours. The class was wonderful! I have 10 students, all eager to learn more English in order to get a better job, speak to tourists, help their children’s English studies, or just to “improve their own lives.” I started the class with introductions; sharing info about family, jobs, favorite food, and last weekend’s activity. I also asked them to tell us where they would like to travel if they could go anywhere in the world. Answers included Yemen, Italy, France, and Australia. Only one man said the US—“because it’s a country of freedom and human rights”—but the most interesting answer was from a man named Hisham who said he wants to visit all of the monasteries in Egypt and spend time in reflection and prayer. By the way, all of my students are Christian, probably all Coptic Orthodox Christians.
From there we discussed their ideas of the pros and cons of Ramadan. Pros included time with God, people aren’t smoking, and the special food such as sweet fruit and nuts. The cons included more traffic jams, people are really only thinking about food and not Allah, and the lack of productivity. I asked them if they noticed people being “crabbier” than normal. No one knew the word crabby so I explained that it meant irritated, easily frustrated, acting mean, etc. This encouraged me to try out an American expression with the group, that being, “Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Expressions are a funny thing, especially trying to explain them to a group who doesn’t see any logical reason for them! I almost laughed out loud as I saw their confused and questioning faces. Other expressions I taught them today were “Okey-Dokey” and “You betcha!” I need to remember to let them know these are NOT good phrases to use in business situations with Americans. I just realized I need to be careful with that!
I wanted the class to get to know each other by getting into pairs and discussing their answers to a variety of questions or instructions I asked of them (switching partners each time). One of the first instructions was to pick an item in the room and describe it to your partner until s/he could guess what it was. The class was really excited about this ‘game’ and quickly started yelling out “Arousti!” One thing I love about teaching is it teaches you to be flexible, because we ended up spending 20 minutes or so playing this game Arousti! One person leaves the room while the class choose a person or object in the room to describe. The man returns to the classroom and either asks questions about the “thing” or we tell him details about it. If he doesn’t know, he says “Arousti!” and we give him more information or he asks another question until he knows enough to guess. They class absolutely loved this game and we had a blast doing it. One of their ‘objects’ was Pope Shenouda III, described as a “very wise and friendly man”. Cute!


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker