I don't know about you guys, but I'm totally over work and ready for vacation. My awesome friend Jamie is coming to visit next month!! She'll be spending Christmas and New Year's with us and Alexandre's family. (HOORAY! Another girl to help combat / cancel out the gaggle of patricinhas that the SIL brings along.)
Also, Alexandre's currently in the testing phases of the residency process. He's applying to a lot of residencies across the state, so there's a good chance that we'll move out of Caipirópolis!! I'll certainly miss the nature-y stuff and all that, but I am SO SO SO omg SO ready for a change of scenery! We'll know some time around Christmas / New Year's, and of course, you'll all know when I know!!
But let's get back to the part about being sick of work. Who else reading this is teaching? Perhaps you'll feel my pain. I mean, I still enjoy teaching, for the most part. Just not at this particular time. I've had pretty much the same students since June. I use the same material with everyone (either my book or the Touchstone book series), which is helpful in terms of organizing and preparing supplemental activities, but which becomes tedious after explaining the same things and hearing the same answers for months on end. Seriously. Almost all of my students respond to questions in the exact same way. It's mind-boggling. (You may remember a very old entry about this.) My brain is bored.
Anyway. The other problem that I'm having with a surprisingly high number of students is their blatant refusal to SPEAK ENGLISH in English class!! I mean... wtf!! I give them conversation topics that I've written that correspond to the chapters in the books, and the questions are very controlled so that they don't get stuck trying to use grammar or vocab that they haven't learned. But students just respond in Portuguese! I interrupt them and say "English, English!" or I let them finish and then say "ok, now tell me in English!", and then they say "aww, teacher!!" as if I've just asked them to clean my cat's litterbox.
I really really don't understand. They have the words there in the chapter. I'm not asking basic students questions like "If you had a million dollars, what would you do?" with conditional grammar or anything like that. I think people just honestly get so excited to tell me their opinion and forget that I care less about their opinion than I do about hearing their English so that I can correct it. So to recap, I think they're excited to say what they think and... some of them are a little bit lazy (speaking a foreign language is tiring). Any other theories? I mean, I don't want to completely ban Portuguese from class, the way some schools do. I think that's kind of hostile and a little unnecessary (the school where I used to work actually put up big signs that said NO ENGLISH with a circle and a red line through it, kind of missing the mark there with the unnecessary "NO"... anyway).
I mean, I want them to be able to ask questions about words they don't know. I want to be able to explain in Portuguese if they're basic or totally lost. But I want them to actually speak English when I ask them the questions in the chapter.
So yeah. Those are my two gripes du jour. I'm just kind of getting burnt out on teaching in this way (back-to-back private classes and small groups, at my house, day in and day out). I've been thinking a lot about what I'm going to do if we end up in a bigger city next year. For example, if we're in Campinas or São Paulo (two possibilities), it's not really viable to rent a two-bedroom apt and ask people to come to me. The rent is really expensive, and the cities are more spread out. However, it's also not really profitable to travel around to people's houses, because I'd lose so much teaching time in traffic. If I do keep teaching in a big city, I'd probably modify my little book to be "English for Doctors" or something, and then just focus on teaching the doctors in the neighborhood, maybe even in small groups at the hospital. (But that would get pretty tedious, too! Only one book!)
I've thought about applying at some translation companies (I had gotten hooked up with one in São Paulo once that wanted to hire me, but all translations were in-house, so the guy told me to call him if I ever moved). However, I had a really bad experience working as a translating team at that old evil school where I used to work (because I am a linguistic snob but... more because the other people were stupid), and I've also read Nancy's annoyed stories, and they scare me off a bit. I also don't know how well I'd do going back to having a boss and an inflexible work schedule after proving to myself that I can be successful and happier and even richer without those two things.
Dear Buddy Bruna has been encouraging me to go around to universities in São Paulo and hand out flyers offering translation and correction services and try to just increase my clientele on the freelance translation side instead of the teaching side. Do any of you do that? How do you guarantee that people pay you? As of right now, I only do translations for people in the public university in town, and it's already a pain in the butt to get some of them to pay in a timely manner. (And they know that I could go to them and be difficult if I really needed to.)
I guess those are all of my ideas for now. The theme of the night is "burnt out and over it, and other metaphors". Alexandre comes home tomorrow after being gone for tests for 5 days, and I'm gonna cook him a big welcome home lunch. That should wake up my brain a bit.