I need to start writing here consistently, and I need to finish the two book reviews that I started when I was in Florida. I need to paint the house. I need to finish the floors. I need to plan for next years’ classes. I need to work on my dissertation and meet with Debbie tomorrow. I need to spend time running. I need to write my presentation for the PCA conference in October. I need to revise a couple of essays and send them out to try to get them published. I need to give time to my friends and family. It’s slightly overwhelming, and all of this in a summer that I thought might be relaxed. I need to not be so overwhelmed by all of my activities, commitments, and self-assigned bullshit.
But, first, I need to finish these end of course assessments for the IEI at Ball State, which is where I have a summer assistantship.I am having a hard time getting motivated because it’s a bit intimidating to make assessments for courses you’ve never taught and probably never will teach, though I’d love to teach in the IEI. I think it would be very satisfying. As for my summer work, it’s different. It’s challenging. It’s fulfilling.
It’s different because I have never considered how to teach a language in a very short amount of time to someone who doesn’t speak it, much less if that person is beginning college or graduate school, which I think are very different considerations. I am not sure that it is as important to teach a graduate student how to keep a daily planner as it is to teach the same skill to a 19-year-old college freshman. All college freshman should have to take a study skills class, regardless of their ability to speak English or not.
It’s challenging because I have some very definite ideas about what students should know when they enter an English 103 or 104 classroom, and my ideas don’t necessarily jive with what the IEI instructors can accomplish in their seven or eight courses, which I believe are taught in seven weeks each. I could be wrong. Anyway, the classes go from fundamental (or survival) through communicative to academic. My task for this week is to design reading assessments for each course to test the learning outcomes for each class. This task is challenging when I have only learning outcomes, and no real grasp on or feel for the students. I said today when I was talking to the director of the IEI that this is challenging for me because I view language acquisition to be a much more organic process than academia views it to be. Think about how you learned language. Did you ever take an end of course assessment? Probably not, but then again, you weren’t trying to acquire a language in a few short months; you had years to do it.
Finally, it’s fulfilling because the end result is that people are equipped with one more skill that will make their lives in the US a little easier. I can imagine nothing more intimidating than being in a new culture without having command of the language of that culture. I by no means believe that all Americans should be required to speak English; we are far too diverse of a culture to require that. I do, however, believe that going to school at an American institution requires that you be able to speak, read, listen to, and write the predominant language of that institution and to be able to do it well. Particularly, the humanities require this. I am still trying to decide if getting a science, math, or another non-language-intensive degree should require a command of English, since we are in the US (I suppose the predominant language at some American universities is Spanish, Portuguese, or French?). I am leaning toward no, but it’s up for debate. At any rate, this summer work is fulfilling, too, because it’s forcing me to have to reconsider all those things I think about language. And, I am learning new things every day. Very good.
I am at a point where I just want to lose weight, which makes me a very bad fat studies scholar. I love food too much. I love good healthy vegan cooking way too much. I could seriously eat all day long, but then I’d have to run all day long. And my foot’s been really funky, so I haven’t run at all, only walked. And not much.
I want to write a list poem about freedom, or imprisonment as outlined in Sarah’s post. I just need time.