The Great Language Barrier has never felt so strong as it has during the last couple of weeks tutoring. The class seems to be getting leaner, and I have been working with a woman who speaks very limited English.
So, on my part, there are a lot of gestures and comparisons. The week before Thanksgiving, she was given a list of words that she would see in "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving."
Traditions. Wishy-washy. Peculiar.
Traditions seemed to be no problem. Wishy-washy, not so much.
"It's when you can't make up your mind," I said. "When you keep going back-and-forth trying to make a decision.
"Like, 'I think I want turkey for dinner. No, I want meatloaf. Nope, better make it turkey.' Does that make sense?"
"Like, gas in your car?"
Dictionaries are no help at all. Half of the words in the definition need to be defined.
I could literally hear the minutes ticking away on the clock hanging from the wall. It was a bit stressful for both of us.
This week, luckily, things were a bit smoother.
I have to give this student credit. She spends a lot of time in the library. Instead of working on a list of words this week, we worked on job applications.
"Tell me what you are good at."
"I cook. I clean. I do everything but prostitution," she said, laughing.
After getting her to explain what her duties were, we had a pretty good start. Now, I'm going to turn that into a resume for her.
I can't imagine how hard it would be to find a job in this economy, and not even be able to speak English well. But I'm going to remain optimistic.