Sunday, March 25, 2007

Speaking Exams are Over!

After five and a half days of sitting with student after student and asking basically the same questions, I am finally done. My colleague, Hans, and I sat together to compare scores. It was the usual. I have to bring my average down a bit and he has to bring his up. The problem is that I liked most of the kids. They are likable people who are fairly interesting. But not all of them.

When we were walking out the door, both of us feeling the relief of having finished this painful project, I saw one of the kids who had missed his appointment.

"Ken. You're here," I said a bit surprised. He misunderstood that his appointment with for Thursday and not Friday. I went ahead and did his exam as I would have to do it anyway, at some point. Why not just get it overwith?

I asked him every question I could think of. I drilled him on everything. With most of the students, I asked who the author of this book was and then I move on to ask the story line of that book. With him, it was author, main character, story line, why the book was important and a few other insight-oriented questions on every book. Don't piss me off by coming in 24 hours late. He did pretty miserably with his English speaking, not just the literature. He doesn't like the English language. Another kid told me that a few days ago. Don't tell the English teacher that you don't like English! Any bit of "Well, he was nervous" or "Well, he was trying" flies right out the door.

Some of the worst students are the type that sit in the back of the class and never do anything, never look at me, never pay attention and roll their eyes if I say anything. Then, when we are sitting and looking at each other at the end of the year, the only two people in a blank little room, and they are expected to talk intelligently in English, they are all smiles and sort of kiss-ass-y. I think they think that I'm going to forget that they are horrible students who have nothing but contempt for me and that I'm going to grade them on their youthful good looks. Some seem to think that the only thought in my head is, She smiled at me! The popular girl smiled at me! Yeah right.

That tactic only worked for a few of them.

Yes, at my core there is a high school student who is swayed by that sort of thing. Sue me. I don't let that inner-teen reign over the whole project. I just let him have a few. With the rest, I am fairly level headed.

There are a few who really sucked.

Two of the guys came in and actually told me that their after-high school plans are to be professional athletes. One said that a football club (then he giggled and translated it for the stupid American who doesn't know any better), "I mean soccer club," was looking at him because he's very good at football. ("I mean soccer.")

The other, a chunky kid who looks like he spends most of his time in front of the television with a beer in one hand the remote in the other, said, "I'm being sponsored by Wilson. I'm very good at tennis. I'm using all their products and they are paying my tournament fees." Fred said that he may have been pulling my leg. He's so pastey and unhealthy looking. I can't imagine him running around a court chasing a tennis ball.

A few asked outright for an 8 (out of 10). Several were just concerned about whether or not they had passed. And one or two sort of begged for a 6. I'm going to have to be pretty harsh this afternoon when I do my final scores. I'm not doing any favors for certain people.

One girl read and I actually wrote on a pad to distract myself, "This is painful to listen to her read." Then later. "This is horrible." Her pronunciation was crap. She stopped and started. I'm going to have to fail her, or just pass her. I fear that there will be tears tomorrow.

Them, not me.

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