school, english , teaching
|In India to teach Spoken English one needs exceptionally good hold of the regional dialect with their accent too. So whenever, I say "A" the pronunciation is "Yah", sounds stylish but not till you come to "yel", "yem", "yen" and "jed."
No, its not Chinese or Japanese but Indian English and for the record that was "L, M, N and Z." No matter how hard you try, twist your mouth, open it, use your linguistic expertise nothing is going to work out, as most learners of English care hoots for pronunciation. All they want is a little bit of Grammar garnished with basic conversational skills.
This was when I decided to work as an English teacher in a proper International School that would fetch me a fat cheque and rid my accent which I was losing out on trying to polish great learners, making me the butt of jokes among my "posh" friends. After a series of interviews, which I actually felt odd the reason being, I was being given a test on Science, Social Studies and Math (yikes!!!) instead of English, I barely made it.
My first day was quite the one everyone would love to have. I woke up two hours early, walked 5miles, had breakfast, packed, prayed and reached my bus stop an hour early. The school bus overlooked and left. I was stranded for an hour or so and reached the school by 10 am instead of 8. I didn't let the rush, broken slipper, fight with the masses in the local bus or my grumbling stomach take toll on me, instead head on I rushed to meet the Principal and staff, who unfortunately were "busy in a meeting" -chatting away about last night's cricket match, movies and make up tips. Again, I was stranded and left hanging there for two hours.
Finally, the Principal greeted me asked me to learn the diktats of teaching from the senior most English faculty by observing her classes as a result she was flaring up on having a pretty, young thing stealing the limelight away from her. She was being extra sweet to the students and I could sense it, her overrated PDA put me to sleep. I went red after realizing my folly and as I entered the staff room, all the teachers were having a good laugh at my expense. Believing in positive thinking and an ardent follower of Swami Vivekananda, I decided to let them take potshots at me for two reasons, one, they were my seniors and two, I fell asleep in principal’s pet’s class. As we laughed away our unsolicited guest, principal’s pet took us by surprise, her bloodshot eyes and flaring nostrils cut our peals of laughter and we all apologized instantly for disturbing the serene environment. She was actually raging with anger because I had taken a siesta in her class. “Alls well that ends well,” wasn’t my case because she marched me to the Principal’s cabin and he asked me to go home, think about “it” and mail him my reflections on Mrs. Keerthi, trust me I never felt that queer after coming home, sitting and penning imaginary thoughts about this woman I hardly knew. God bless Google. I mailed the old rut my reflections or rather distortions on the woman.
Next day, I was allotted the noisiest class in the whole good building and was already warned well in advance about the “three big bullies.”I could sense their bulliness from a mile itself. Though I was trembling like a leaf within, I never showed it around and introduced myself. Now the best way to handle the bullies was to play an icebreaker. Hook line and sinker, the kids were impressed, so were the other teachers and the icing on the cake was the bullies became my friend, after all they weren’t that bad. Everything was hunky dory except for “principal’s pet” whose motive was to prove me undeserving for the job true to her game plan the Principal took me to task for “playing games” with the students and sending wrong signals that School is all fun and play.(welcome to planet Earth old boy!!!)
This time I was assigned the eighth graders, I was quite excited and didn’t let “old boy’s” wrath pass me by. The classroom was pitch dark and quiet added to the misery I couldn’t find the lights. Suddenly, I could hear some voices and I was like, “wow!!!We’ve got some expats; from the accent I think they are Brits, No!!! they sound strange. Not Brits, Not Americans too, definitely not Australians! Here we go again with the “yel” “yem” and “yen.”They were faking the accent!” Immediately the lights came on and I could see dark, proud faces peering at me angrily.
I introduced myself and one of the students yelled, “hey miss, we aren’t interested to know who you are and all that jazz, just hit the lights out and leave us in peace.” “Moreover we don’t find the necessity to learn some stupid English plays written by jobless people.”
It was quite insulting to the English writer’s fraternity and I hit the roof. I told him with a smile that if he didn’t leave his attitude at home, I would take him to task. Now that’s all I could do even though my blood pressure was soaring and my hands itching to punch him up but anyways they all set straight.
I was triumphant once again for my good class control skills and especially my anger control. I went back to the staff room sharing these tales of bravery to other “victims” who were treated with verbal abuses and back answers and could do nothing but smile! As I was winding up the day, principal’s pet came in with a broad smile and told me the old rut wanted to see me after school. I knew something was definitely fishy as she was being extra sweet and praising my capabilities, looks and dressing sense.
At the principal’s office I was asked to apologize to the eighth grader for my verbal diarrhea. I explained that this young man was rude but before I could say anything further, the Principal made me seem like Satan and the young twit, Jesus Christ.
Fair enough, I apologized, walked out of the building and never returned back to scar myself respect anymore.