Today is literacy tutoring day.
In an effort to find some meaningful work to counterbalance the endless hours spent with my backside glued to the driving seat, I signed up to be a literacy tutor. I have a background in teaching, English is my first language, so it seemed like something I might be halfway decent at. So, on January 1st, fresh with New Year zeal (and a not insignificant number of martinis), I signed up with Project Second Chance.
Now, here’s where I maybe didn’t think things through. I can’t fault the seriously good training, and the exceedingly patient staff, but I did become sneakily aware of my lack of school grammar lessons. And the fact that I spelt a significant number of words differently to my American counterparts. And when trying to enunciate the vowel sounds, mine sounded very different.. In literacy tutor terms, I was most definitely the runt of the litter.
A large part of the program’s success can be put down to the skill of the staff in matching student and tutor, so I eagerly anticipated meeting the luckless individual who got assigned me as their tutor. Quite how they decided to pair a grammatically inept, mono-lingual, non-US citizen with a highly educated, multi-lingual US citizenship applicant is beyond me, but I have to assume alcohol was involved. Or a bet.
But here we are, five months later, still having a blast. Between the two of us, we have muddled through the entire US history (citizenship edition), mispronounced most of names of the Native American tribes, learned the lyrics for “The Star Spangled Banner”, and celebrated the successful outcome of the first of our citizenship tests. Hers, not mine.
But today we tackle the Everest of literacy accomplishment – grammar. It’s about to go horribly wrong, because all I can come up with is this.
A school boy answers a knock at the front door to find his teacher standing on the step.
Teacher: “I need to speak to your parents about your attendance. Is your mother in?”
Boy: “No, she ain’t, she’s gone to the shops”
Teacher: ” Well what about your father?”
Boy: No, he ain’t here neither, he’s at the pub.”
Teacher (in an exasperated voice): “‘Isn’t here either’, George, not ‘ain’t here neither’. Where’s your grammar?”
Boy: “Oh, she’s here, she’s in the front room watching telly!”
And there we have it. My sole contribution to the betterment of literacy tutoring.
Wish me luck. And in case you were wondering, here’s Grandma. She has a thing for Omar Sharif..