La Mala Educación

I walked into my second to last TOEFL class yesterday trying to figure out how I would divide up the three hours with my student. She’d mentioned she wanted to do some SAT practice, but I figured I could convince her that watching “Clueless” online was close enough.

Then I found that I had a new student. “Is he here to watch the class? For an hour? To see if he’d like to take TOEFL classes here later?” I asked expectantly. No, said the foreign affairs girl, he was joining the class.

But there are only two more classes. This class is ending.

Yes, I know, she said.

I asked the the student, “do you know this class is basically over?” We’ve been meeting for many months now, there’s only one other student, and the class is over. They have other classes you know.

He explained that he knew. I asked him if his mother was aware. He said his mother had a “simply idea” of what the class was. I said, “no kidding.”

The other student joined us a few minutes later. We talked for the first hour and then watched documentaries about China for the last two hours. I don’t know if the kid got his money’s worth – he said he’d been taking a TOEFL class at another school where the students didn’t get to practice speaking because the teachers were all Chinese – but I’ve honestly stopped caring about the idea of “money’s worth” in China, for reasons to which I’ll have to devote a separate post.

I don’t really know what’s worse, that my school would take advantage of a student who is ignorant enough to sign up for the last two classes of a course that’s been running for three months already, or that there is a student ignorant enough to sign up for the last two classes of a course that’s been running for three months already. Maybe I shouldn’t say ignorance – naiveté would be the appropriate word here.

Also, when I asked him what his name was, he said “Jobbert.” “Jobbert?” I asked, surprised that he could mispronounce “Robert” to such an extent. “How do you spell that?”



“You mean, G-I-L-B-E-R-T?” I replied. “Your name is Gilbert, not Jobbert.” He nodded. Oh, lord. Just be Bob.


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