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Location: Osnabrueck, Lower Saxony, Germany

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


It was easy at first to talk English with context making the meaning pretty clear -

'Let's go upstairs. Here - left. Be careful, it's a bit narrow here. Would you like to take a seat here? No, here.' |

| Some general business in German followed, including the statement that I was going to speak as much English as possible, but that he should feel quite free to speak German if he wanted to or needed to. (Various friends and colleagues had made me feel a bit of a beast for not planning to build in a fair amount of translation). |

We were able to make spontaneous use of a bee (sent by the Spirit of Dogme?) that buzzed and flew from one window to another generating for us: bee, honey, inside, outside and ' I like bees if they don't sting me. They make honey."

| S had told me he'd picked up a few English words from films and video and music channels.He added yesterday that one doesn't necessarily know what they mean, one cannot necessarily translate them properly, but one has heard them. I asked him for 10. He came up with, in the order I give them: LOVE, POLICE, ( a police siren could be heard outside) MAN. There may have been two more, but that was it. He immediately apologised: "I should have prepared more carefully." I tried to convince him he couldn't have and I was only asking out of interest.|

Thinking that we'd need to be able to talk about when we were going to meet, I arranged for us to do the following:|

the numbers from 1-12 (for the time), the hours (6 o'clock etc), half past, quarter past, quarter to. (This was all oral. The only thing I wrote down in 90 minutes was: ' o'clock' and all S wrote down was his email address for me). |

I said the word(s), S repeated a few times and then - with the numbers - he said them forwards and backwards and according to what I was indicating with my fingers. For the time I provided a clock, he moved the hands to the appropriate time and I asked: "What's the time now?" |

| Towards the end I asked: '"When are we going to have our second meeting?" He said to himself, in German: "I understand that question and I know the answer, um..." And he volunteered: 'Wednesday', which was correct. |

| Finally, I spent some time explaining (German) and demonstrating (English) how to use the tapes to English 900. He was quite interested in the chance to be able to work outside the meetings and saw at once that he could listen to the tapes, for example, while driving his car.

| We'd gone on 30 minutes longer than expected, and he absolutely insisted on paying me for an extra half an hour. He also asked if "hour" for the meetings/lessons meant 60 or 55 minutes.

As he left S said: "Goodbye, Dennis." He'd picked up 'Goodbye' doing one of the English 900 drills.

||||| My comments.

1. It was most enjoyable and we achievedsomething. Could we perhaps have done more?| 2. Did I put on too much of an act? | 3 I definitely spoke too much copulating German, though not for the teaching. I can see, however, a first session is not typical and there are lots of arrangements to make. | 4.. He has said several times: 'This is very different.' Does that mean where is the textbook? He asked if he should have a vocabulary book. I said, if it helps, but only if the words end up in his head as well as in the book. | 5. I'm thinking I must provide him with a list of words - the 1000 most commonly used words in English? - so that he can tick them off when he's 'done' them. | He can also tick off English 900's 800 base sentences- and I'm beginning to think I will (we will) produce dialogues that try capture what he needs and wants to say. ||||| At a conference: May I introdude myself? S from the Department of Heavy Engineering...May I ask where you come from? I was at your presentation yesterday afternoon and found it most stimulating..... | 6. My worry is that *I* could end up having a great, humanistic, dogme time and S could feel he isn't getting much. As I write this point I'm having an awful bout of: "It's all very well for us, but what do the Ss of this world want? ........ Do you think I qualify for a free copy of "Throwaway", just in case ?

||"These things which we with ourselves too much discuss." ||




Anonymous Sandy said...

'Copulating German'?! Could we have a definition or an explanation, please?!

12:17 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...


You must know about copulative verbs.


I want to use as much English as possible and I got the feeling I'd used too much German in this first meeting. I shall try harder tomorrow

12:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I knew German had declensions and inflections - but now copulations as well?!

7:33 pm  

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