Thursday, September 13, 2007

Me too

In the past two years, I’ve had the following conversation with 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders:

(the five-minute warning bell rings, the student jumps up)
Me: Sit down, there’s five minutes more.
Student: But we’re finished.
Me: No. Five more minutes.
Student: But... but... lunch! We’re hungry.
Me: Too bad. Me too.

Today I had the same conversation with a 13th grader. The only difference was that he used the word “starving” instead. It's nice that some things aren't grade-dependant.

p.s. - and after having this conversation god-knows-how-many times, typing it now was the first time I realized that I should be saying “So am I,” not “Me too.” Oops. Yay, English teaching.

The new school: Varga Katalin Gymnasium

Since Blogger won't let me make the title a link, here's the link for the official webpage of my new school, Varga. Sweet, clean, beautiful, wonderful, well-organized Varga, filled with kind helpful teachers, smiling staff, efficient administration, and okos rendes diákok.

So yes, I’m woozy in love with the new school. I’m not even minding the extra work that goes with such a nice position, i.e. making complete yearly syllabi and multiple lesson plans weekly. Oh Varga, my sweet muse, inspiring me beyond the lazy, half-assed teacher I was at Kassai. Plus, those damn clever kids would tear me apart if I didn’t march in well-prepared.

So this is what I’m teaching, broken down as simply as I can: in 9th and 10th grades, two classes of each, I’m teaching just conversation. There’s a couple things I should do from their books, but mostly I’m on my own to plan things. I haven’t met the 10th graders yet, but the 9th graders are quickly becoming some of my favorites. In 11th and 12th grade, also two classes of each, I’m teaching American Civilization concurrently with their other teacher who’s teaching them British Civilisation. That’s the hardest, because the 12th graders are taking an exam at the end of the year, so they have to know the topics well. And I feel like it’s on me if they pass or not. The 11th graders have already proven a little bratty, but the 12th seems more serious.

I also have 5 other classes, scattered in the 11th to 13th grades, where I’m teaching conversation with the aim of preparing for the érettségi (school-leaving exam). I like this classes, not only because I see them once a week and they’re easiest to plan for, but also because the students seem, well, they just seem like good kids. The 13th graders are an especially fun group, lessons I actually look forward to.

And, of course, I’m teaching my four lessons a week at Kassai, my old school; two 6th grade classes on Tuesday morning and two 5th grade classes on Thursday mornings. The classes are huge, not fewer than 20 students, and they expect me to do ONLY conversation - my ex-contact teacher Kati actually told me “don’t let them write.” Two words for that: as if. Oh well, my Varga muse, meaning my inspiration to plan things and do well by the students, is luckily strong enough to carry over to Kassai, so I guess as long as I plan super well, I might be able to teach them a thing or two.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

MSN: providing hours of lingustic amusement

I wrote an entry explaining the whole long backstory of the following conversation, but since I’m really posting it for the sake of the awesome code-switching and Hunglish grammar, here’s all you need: Andika is a former Kassai student (6th grade), Toth Kata is my wonderfully fear-inducing ex-contact teacher, and Oscar is an American guy, married to a szolnoki and living here. And I’m Emily:

Andika says: toth katalin is say we how Oscar fog tanítani
Emily says: igen?
Andika says: je
Andika says: but
Andika says: not biztos
Emily says: akkor most nincsen angol-tarsalgas ora?
Andika says: még nincs
Andika says: but lesz
Emily says: mikor?
Andika says: just no kötelezö
Emily says: ok, latom
Andika says: nemtudom
Andika says: ilyen jól tudsz magyarul
Emily says: nem
Andika says: hihi

Love it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


That’s it, a boring one-word title and one all-encompassing entry to sum up my activities of the past few months. But every day that I procrastinate blogging again, I get more and more anxious about it, so I’d rather do this half-assed catch-up now and get back on track.

In June, I worked. I mean, in addition to official work the first half of the month, I also worked a week of summer camp (see below); the remaining week was spent packing, moving, and unpacking.

In July, I lazed. The month wasn’t really good for anything else; it was just too hot. My life fell in a wonderfully predictable pattern, a typical day looked something like this: wake up already hot; drink a coffee and take a cold shower; walk around with Petra and shop; meet up with Rita, drink a beer and play cards in the hottest part of midday; go to the Holt Tisza or Tiszapuspoki beach with the girls or Gábor; watch tvlinks, chat, and drink ice water in front of my fan; finally eat something around sunset when it got a few degrees cooler. Evenings I either went out with Tomi or hung out in Petra’s garden with her and Csomanok. It was the best part of summer. I also went to Transylvania and Balaton for a few days each.

In August, I wasn’t at home. First I was in Szombathely for another week of summer camp. Then at Sziget, which was awesome until the last night when I lost my mind, temporarily, and my phone, permanently. We spent a few days recovering in Pest, sleeping in Jeremy’s hallway/loft and mooching his food. August 20th we watched the fireworks from Margit híd - this year they were both spectacular and death-free. The day after, the new generation of CETP teachers started arriving, and Caley and I spent the week orientation-ing them, not that they needed much help; this seems like a pretty levelheaded, intelligent, independent and fun group.

Anyway, after almost a month of travel, I was beyond-words glad at being home in Szolnok. But my working-lazing-traveling summer isn’t quite yet over; I’ve been working in Varga, finishing up paperwork, attending teachers’ meetings, and working on a syllabus for each class. I’ve been traveling, so to speak, back and forth between my current flat and the house across the courtyard, into which I’m in the process of moving (more on that later). And of course I’m lazing, making the most of the last few days and hours before another school year begins.