Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Teaching English to English Teachers

The view of Kutaisi from the Bagrati Monastery
After classes today, Melissa and I went to Kutaisi to go meet up with Salome and her friends from University. All of Salome’s friends are studying to become English teachers so I assumed that all of them would speak English as well as Salome does. Nope, not even close. The girls could barely say, “Nice to meet you”.

Clearly this says something frightening about the Georgian education system. I mean, if these girls can’t speak English and they’re about to become English teachers, how can anyone expect that kids will be able to learn English from them? (Then again, that’s probably one of the reasons why Mishiko is paying me to be here).

It’s possible that all the girls (besides Salome who is an English-speaking rock star) were too shy to talk, so I think if we hang out with them more (or give them vodka) they’ll become more comfortable speaking with us. They told us they could understand everything we were saying, they just couldn’t respond.

Honestly though, it really made all the girls day to meet Melissa and I. They took so many photos with us and were so excited to simply be around Americans. I practically felt like a character at Disney World, as if the girls wanted photos with Melissa and me because we were wearing Timon and Pumba costumes.
With all our new friends! (Though I totally stick out like a sore thumb)

Plus, despite somewhat of a language barrier, all of us had a lot of fun going to the Bagrati Monastery (it’s from the eleventh century) and drinking coffee at a little cafĂ©. The girls are all very warm and love to laugh and want to us to come visit them as often as we can.

Salome told me that most of the kids in her major classes at University have had no actual way to practice speaking English and many honestly can’t. They can conjugate verbs and define words but they can’t actually phrase sentences. It’s practically a mitzvah for us Americans to hang out with them and speak English!

If I help one of my students become a better English speaker; that’s great for my student. But if I help one of the English teachers become more comfortable engaging in English conversations; that’s great for an entire school.
Melissa rocking the Georgian head-to-toe black look
Salome and I

P.S. If you were given a quarter for every time I used the word “English” how much money would you have?


  1. > They told us they could understand everything
    > we were saying, they just couldn’t respond
    Very common situation, being in this situation after arriving in States. This is a result one one does not have any experience actually speaking language - all the language comes from reading books and listening TV/radio.

    So you are giving them what they actually need - practicing spoken English.

    P.S. Please tell Salome that she has very nice smile and legs - I'm judging based on the last photo.

  2. "Then again, that’s probably one of the reasons why Mishiko is paying me to be here"

    - I don't think that he is paying you guys enough, but this is a poor country in general. but yeah... this is the reason. Besides, this "English" is still stuck in the Soviet education system. I mean in Tbilisi and Batumi this is more or less resolved, but in the regions this problem is up to the retarded level... Georgian president usually hates to wait till something gets fixed, so he usually starts things from scratch. You are here to basically build the foundation for the future of the English education in Georgia.

  3. $2.75. unles syou count the title and the question itself, then its $3.50.

    P.S. I'm Israel bound on December 28th, we'll have more time together than I originally thought (thought I was going the second week in Jan)! we'll talk more about this for sure...

  4. Almost has much money as I would have for saying Dave Matthews Band in my facebook status!